According to the American Dental Association, 4 out of 5 cavities occur in the many crevices of our molars. This can be predominant in children as they are not as experienced in cleaning their teeth.
The grooved areas are what are known as “fissures”, and since most of our predominant chewing is done by our back molars, that means bacteria, food, and plaque build-up often occur in these areas. In adult teeth, the fissures are deeper than baby molars. When particles become trapped, they can accumulate bacteria and ultimately break down a child’s enamel, forming a cavity.
Because some of these cracks are so minuscule, they may be difficult to reach by way of traditional brushing due to bristles not being thin enough or strong enough.
Sealants are a protective, clear coating that protects these fissures from decay. As adult molars begin to erupt (usually at ages 6 and 12, but the time frame can vary) these sealants can be added to a child’s tooth prevent cavities from forming. They are applied by first cleaning a tooth using a rotating brush, and then rinsed with water. The tooth is then dried, so the sealant can adhere to the surface of the tooth. Once it is placed, the substance is then dried with a special curing light which causes it to set as a hard varnish. Then viola! The tooth can now be used normally for chewing. While it is not common, adults are known to have this procedure done for preventative measures as well.
Invented in the 1970s, sealants have been known to be fairly effective. The average life span for a sealant is 5-10 years and can be re-applied if necessary. As long as the covering remains intact, it stays effective for the child and into adulthood as well. If a sealant is broken or becomes loose, it should be removed immediately by a dentist so that the procedure can be redone. Quick and painless, you cannot really go wrong with sealants!
Apple cobbler, pumpkin pie, fudge brownies – oh my!
‘Tis the season for incredible sweets and frosted delights. Statistically, the average person gains anywhere from 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas – and no wonder! Sugary treats are an integral part of holiday tradition, and not just in the United States either.
Sugar and even excess carbohydrates can cause harm to little teeth! Even if you do a good job of monitoring your child’s treat intake intake this time of year, there will be so many times exceptions are to be made. Family parties, cookie decorating with friends, and the constant aroma baked goods coming from the kitchen at grandma or auntie’s house. These various occasions take place virtually only once a year and with family members rarely visited.
Whatever the traditions in your home, and the homes of your loved ones, these are often recipes that have brought family together for generations.
Instead of bagging these traditions, you can always create new ones in the midst of them. Here are some amazing, healthy, and fun foods to make – that are no less Christmasy! These can be excellent alternatives when you are unhappy with your number on the scale or concerned about your children’s constant “sugar highs” that they can be more prone to this time of year.
(***Please note that not every option is 100% free of processed sugar. All recipes have been credited to their various authors.)
- Grinch Food Kabobs (via Clean and Scensible)
Tiny marshmallows, green grapes, thin banana slices, and strawberries, arranged on a toothpick. Be sure to cut off the top and bottom in the strawberry, and use the scraps for a fruit salad to avoid waste! Makes for a great afternoon snack, and easy to eat on the go. Can be refrigerated for later.
- Pita Tree Appetizers (via Betty Crocker)
Ingredients: 4 pita folds or pita bread roughly 6” across, pretzel sticks (halved), ½ cup of fat-free sour cream, ½ cup guacamole, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, ¼ teaspoon garlic-pepper blend, ¼ cup diced red bell pepper.
First, be sure to toast each piece of pita bread, and then slice it into eighths. Insert pretzel sticks halfway through the bottom of each pita triangle. Mix sour cream, guacamole, parsley, garlic-pepper blend, and spread onto squares. Sprinkle the diced red peppers on top and refrigerate to store. Pita Tree Appetizers – perfect for any Christmas party!
3. Fruit Candy Canes (via Nourishing Minimalism)
Very simple, with so many variations! For a traditional looking candy cane, thinly slice strawberries and bananas at a slight angle. Keep rounded ends of each fruit and put them off to the side. Create a curved cane by alternating fruit and top each end off. Serve on a plate and enjoy!
4. Rudolph Pancakes (via Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons)
Totally straightforward! You will need pancake mix (whichever recipe you prefer), creamed whip in a can, strawberries, preferred bacon, and chocolate chips. Maple syrup optional. Create two round pancakes of different sizes and stack them as pictured. Then pour 2 ear-shaped tiny pancakes and set them to the sides of the bigger pancake. Take two full strips of bacon for the antlers, then cut a third bacon strip in half to “branch” off of the original antler. Add more if desired. For the face, spray 2 dollops of whipped cream and top it off with 2 chocolate chips to create the eyes. For the red nose, add a strawberry or raspberry at the center of the smaller pancake. Perfect for a Christmas breakfast!
5. Dipped Apple Slices (via PartyCity)
Cut green and red apples into thin slices. To prevent slices from browning, first add lemon juice. Take melted chocolate (or white chocolate) and dip each slice halfway, then set it on wax paper to cool. While chocolate is still liquid, add festive sprinkles to stick and harden. Arrange in a row or in a circle and serve!
For more ideas, visit Pinterest and be sure to swap recipes with other moms! They will definitely appreciate the ideas to go easier on the sugar this year!
It is not every time that we use our mouth for something that we ask, “is this actually okay for my teeth?” Whether it be eating, speaking, gum chewing, or holding something in our mouth while our hands are full, what can we absolutely afford NOT to do?
Our most prominent orifice, the mouth is not only one of our primary forms of expression (speaking), but how we receive over 90% of our nutrients (from food). If you are going to take extra care of one area of your body, make it your chomper! Did you know that almost every fatal disease has an oral symptom? Both the mucous lining and saliva glands work together to keep the mouth lubricated and the absorbing qualities of the mouth tissue alive. What is then gleaned from lamina propria (the connective tissue) is absorbed through what is called the facial vein. This means that whatever properties go into your mouth can enter into your bloodstream without even having to be swallowed.
Here are some simple things you can avoid doing to protect your pearly whites. Encouraging your children to do the same and stopping bad habits now (especially nail-biting) may save a lot of grief down the road. Although most of these do not cause immediate harm, many can affect your smile over time. We have already talked about a lot of these habits in previous articles, so feel free to click on them for further reading.
Bruxism is just the scientific word for teeth-grinding. Despite the fact that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it can obviously still wear out. This can be attributed to the fact that the human jaw is incredibly strong – up to 150 lbs of power! If you are in the habit of grinding your teeth every night, this can eventually take its toll. Those who are diagnosed do not know they even had the condition until a parent or spouse tell them. Talk to your doctor about a mouth guard that repositions the jaw so that air is still passing through. Often bruxism is caused by not being able to breath properly during sleep. The most common symptoms are molars that appear to be worn down, as well as jaw and tooth pain. If the problem persists, talk to your doctor or dentist and they will have a preferred solution that they would recommend.
This could mean acid contact firsthand; found in consumables like soda pop, citrus fruit, coffee, or even stomach acid if you suffer from heartburn or are prone to vomiting. Acid wears down the enamel, the outer protection of the teeth, which can cause cavities and decay. However, eating sugar and carbs excessively and neglect can do this as well. Why? Because when these particles come into contact with saliva they break down into glucose and fructose. This gradually turns to plaque if it is not brushed away, which can also cause decay.
Very common in infants, prolonged thumb-sucking as well as extended use of a pacifier can cause teeth to grow in crooked. Although doctors and child care professionals disagree on the best time to wean these habits, it all comes down to whether or not it is negatively affecting baby teeth in their growth. Baby teeth create a “path” for adult teeth to grow in. If they are misaligned, so the adult teeth can be.
4. Chewing on ice
It may seem harmless, right? Regardless of the fact that it is sugar and carb free, ice is still an incredibly hard substance which, when chewed can cause chipping or damage to existing dental work. Doctor Richard Price of the American Dental Association on the matter of chewing ice reminds us that “even your blender needs special blades to crush ice.
Do not pick at your teeth with any sharp, metal or otherwise hard object (toothpicks and things of that nature are fine, as long as they do not hurt your gums). It may seem like a no-brainer but only the dentist should be poking around with a periodontal probe or dental hook. These are stainless steel and can cause serious harm. Dentists have special training in this, so don’t try this at home!
6. Using them as a tool
Doctor Price also says, “Teeth are not pliers, teeth are not hooks.” Out of sheer laziness we commonly rely on our mouths to do a job that would require reaching for the scissors or into the toolbox to do. This cannot only cause chipping, but cracking as well which can be very painful. Our teeth are not designed to bit and clench down on hard plastic or metal. This also goes for nail-biting as well!
7. Brushing too hard
If you tend to go a little heavy-handed on the brushing, you may need to invest in a toothbrush with softer bristles. These usually cost the same as a regular toothbrush. Brushing too hard can irritate the gums and even wear down enamel, leading to more issues down the road. The bristles dragging across the gums repeatedly can cause small abrasions on the gums which can also get infected and cause sores.
While these seven appear to not be of any issue at first glance, they can definitely cause problems if made a regular occurence. Be aware of these and be on the lookout for your children potentially developing these habits. It is all to maintain a lifelong, healthy smile!
When taking care of our mouths (and our children’s!) it is important to understand how having a healthy mouth contributes to one’s overall quality of life. Good diet and exercise are vital ingredients to a strong body; in the same way brushing and flossing are a recipe to secure a lifelong smile.
Gums have absorption qualities that our skin does not. This is why when chewing tobacco is placed in the inside of the cheek or lip, the nicotine is absorbed through the gums and into the bloodstream, making it addictive. What many people do not realize is anything that remains inside the mouth has the potential to be absorbed into our blood, even if it is not swallowed. Harmful bacteria left behind from plaque and gingivitis is often culprit of infiltrating our blood and causing a lot of problems. This is why periodontitis (gum disease) and cardiovascular (heart) disease are directly correlated. Plaque between the teeth builds up to the point of being absorbed by gums causing infection and inflammation. This can cause hardening of the arteries or even infection in the lining of the heart itself, which is called endocarditis. Not good!
Because we breathe through our noses and mouths, oral health affects respiratory health too! Just imagine breathing in microscopic particles of decay-causing bacteria directly into your lungs over a long period of time! Pneumonia can be developed from continual exposure to harmful bacteria.
In some cases, gingivitis and later periodontal disease are known to cause dementia and Alzheimer’s. Harmful bacteria can be received by the nerve receptors in the head as they travel through the bloodstream. It is also for this reason that gum disease can affect your blood sugar and people with diabetes as well.
Despite the fact that these ailments are primarily found in the elderly, it goes to show that you will never stop taking care of your teeth! A tooth is the only mechanism in the body that cannot heal itself! If anything, as our bodies start to deteriorate as we age, we must be relentless in the care of our mouths – it is our source of speech and communication, receives most of our nutrients (through eating), and enables breathing far more than the nose.
As you can see, mouths are a unique part of our body because they are responsible for so much. Our main orifice and also the most exposed – the mouth requires a meticulous grooming that is entirely its own. Medicine has come so far in 2016 that practicing doctors hundreds of years ago would have never imagined. Although, even the cultures considered more primitive in ancient times had some concept of the importance of oral care.
It is therefore universal that the care of the oral cavity is caring for the entire well-being of the body. Who knew that ignoring dental problems could create such problems down the road? You may never have considered how paramount keeping regular dentist visits and developing a proper daily dental hygiene regimen could be. Save your smile – save your life!
Have you ever had a canker sore? They are not fun, and can appear at the most random and inconvenient times! What is more, it can make simple tasks like eating and brushing pretty painful. Nearly everyone has experienced at least one canker sore in their lifetime, and they are definitely a pain in the mouth! Usually identified by a small, round white bump with redness and tenderness surrounding it, they are classified as small, shallow ulcers. These sores are much different than cold sores and can last up to a week.
What Causes Them?
Canker sores are not caused by any one thing, nor do they target any specific gender or age group (although they do seem to affect those between the ages of 10-20 more). Statistics say that 20% of people report having one at least once a year. So while they do not appear to be a constant occurrence, what does cause them?
Random sores appearing can usually be traced back to a small abrasion in the gums or the mouth. This can be caused by a dental instrument, accidentally biting your tongue or cheek, or brushing too hard. Sometimes these wounds are so minuscule they go unnoticed. From there the minor cut or scrape can become infected with oral bacteria which forms a sore.
Canker sores can also appear in times of emotional stress, certain hormonal changes, and even sensitivity to foods containing acid and citric acid like oranges, lemons, tomatoes, strawberries, coffee, etc, which can erode the inside of the mouth. It can also come from vitamin deficiencies in your diet, such as vitamin B, zinc, and iron.
Wait, Aren’t Cold Sores the Same Thing?
Nope! Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus and are incredibly contagious (luckily, canker sores are not). They also occur on the outside of the mouth, whereas canker sores only appear on the inside. Cold sores are commonly referred to as “fever blisters” since they usually are accompanied by illness. Prior to the cold sore developing there is usually some redness and tenderness where the outbreak will be. Children with cold sores typically experience more severe sickness than adults. They are so named “blisters” because the cluster of painful bumps that form burst after a couple of days. They can last significantly longer than a canker sore and be of course more noticeable than one too.
Natural home remedies can include swishing with mouthwash or saltwater. Both will help to disinfect and dry up the sore, speeding up the healing process. Natural aloe vera and black tea bags can both cure canker sores when applied directly.
Despite the fact that canker sores tend to almost resemble pimples, they should not be popped or poked with a needle. This can cause them to worsen or spread. If you have an outbreak of two or more canker sores at a time and they do not go away on their own and persist after a few weeks, be sure to see a doctor for a specific remedy or even prescribed medication. If continual canker sores persist, try switching to a softer bristled brush to reduce abrasions in the mouth. If you suspect the sores could be diet related, reduce the amount of acids and citric acids you consume.
Did you know that every 3 out of 4 Americans experience a form of gum disease in their lifetime? Gingivitis, the most common, is a condition that encompasses the very early stages of a more severe gum disease or periodontitis. It is most quickly recognized by bleeding when flossing or brushing. Gingivitis is the number one cause of bloody gums, and should not be ignored as it is not a “normal” thing. Perfectly treatable early on, it can lead to a more serious condition (periodontitis) if neglected.
What Causes It?
Plaque is essentially a hardened film that develops on teeth, formed by bacteria. Plaque grows wherever bacteria is not being removed; which means if you do not floss, you are not getting rid of the bacteria in between your teeth!
Did you know that a toothbrush only reaches 2/3 of our mouths? That means, if a person never flosses, one third of their mouth never gets clean! Gross!
The plaque that grows between teeth release toxins into the gums which can cause an infection to develop. The infection spreads into the gums, making them red and tender. This means if you brush a little too hard one day, or floss for the first time in awhile, it can cause an instant abrasion in the gums, causing them to bleed.
Gingivitis is very prominent in children as they are still developing healthy oral hygiene habits. They are notorious for cutting corners in their daily brushing regimen. Typically children also have more of a taste for sweets. Sugar turns to acid, acid turns to plaque, and plaque seeps into the gums, causing the infection. Children and young teens are also at risk because rapid hormone changes are known to be linked to gum disease. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is also more common with little ones, which can worsen gingivitis and is hard on the enamel and overall teeth in general. All things to be considered; that children are constantly growing and developing and that taking care of their teeth at a young age will do them favors and save them a lot of trouble later in life.
If your kids start to see that “pink in the sink”, definitely help them out! There is a statement among experts that say children do not have the proper dexterity in their hands to brush their teeth until they can tie their shoes all by themselves. Therefore it is recommended you brush your child’s teeth for them up until the hand strength and precision is developed. Small flossers are also useful to assist you with flossing and it will also teach them to do it on their own. Flossing is probably the number one thing you can do to prevent gingivitis from happening in between the gums. Be a good role model and take care of your own mouth too. This means brushing twice daily for at least two minutes, and flossing and rinsing once daily.
If your child’s gingivitis condition is more severe, it may be a good idea to arrange for them to start going to a pediatric dentist, as they have more experience with little mouths and have 2-3 years more schooling than regular dentists. Teach them young, and take care of their teeth now so they do not have problems with their adult teeth later!
Mouth grinding is a habit that occurs during deep sleep, meaning many may be unaware that they even do it. Usually it takes a spouse or a loved one of someone that grinds their teeth to be able to notice it in the night. Also known as bruxism, this is a condition that can go unnoticed for long periods of time and is more common in children than adults.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to: tooth pain, jaw soreness or clicking, molars appearing to be worn flat, enamel wear, and headaches.
Chances are a dentist will be able to perform an examination to tell whether grinding is occurring. It is reported that over 10% of adults and 15% of children grind their teeth; yet it was not until recent years that doctors have actually discovered why.
It used to be a common misconception to link bruxism to stress or anger in the same context as we feel it during the day. Naturally, it can be a natural human response to consciously clench our teeth when we are mad or feeling intensely about something; and while this can happen while we sleep, it is found to actually be more than likely linked to what is called “obstructive sleep apnea”: a disorder that cuts off breathing for anywhere from 10-30 seconds during sleep.
How it Happens
While we sleep, we drift in and out of REM and NREM cycles. These stand for “Rapid Eye Movement” and “Non Rapid Eye Movement” which represent the depth of the levels of which the mind and body rest. As our sleep and rest deepens, all of our muscles relax completely. This includes the neck, jaw, mouth, and tongue. Now, when all of these muscles are completely slack it can actually block the opening of the trachea, closing off our airways!
To counteract this, the body is brilliantly designed to begin grinding. Why? Clenching the jaw is our body’s natural response because it tenses up muscles just enough to clear whatever is preventing air from freely passing through. When the muscles tighten, it reopens the airway!
The sudden obstruction, grinding, and then release unfortunately pulls us out of that deep sleep cycle and into the first stage of NREM (the lightest sleep), disrupting the cycle without the person perhaps even realizing it.
Despite the negativity surrounding bruxism, it is true that is could very well be preventing this form of sleep apnea and allowing air to pass through to the lungs even in the deepest sleep.
Mouth guards might seem like the best solution but in truth can actually make breathing more difficult. It would treat the symptom (teeth grinding) but it would not solve the initial problem.
Sleep apnea is often found to be more prominent in:
- People with anxiety and depression
- Children with ADHD and other learning disabilities
- Children and adults who did not breastfeed as infants for very long or at all
If your teeth grinding is becoming more of an issue, talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. When REM occurs, it is in the stages of the night where our skin and brain cells are replenished, our HGH (human growth hormone) is released, it boosts memory, and helps us burn fat. Sleep apnea disrupts this cycle which can lead to weight gain, heart disease and stroke. Children with sleep apnea were reported to struggle with hyperactivity, lack of focus, issues communicating, trouble adjusting to new environments, and in general received lower grades. Remember, just because you are getting an 8-10 hour rest does not always mean that this it is a wholesome, uninterrupted sleep. The good news is that most children outgrow their sleep apnea as well as their grinding, leaving little to no lasting damage on their teeth.
In a recent study, patients were given a CPAP machine (a treatment often used in severe cases of sleep apnea) or an oral device used to adjust placement in the mouth to make breathing easier. Not only did their sleep apnea stop, but so did the bruxism. Check for signs of your children grinding their teeth – chances are if it is a regular occurrence, they are not getting the sleep they need.
While grinding our teeth could be saving your life every night, it can have a long-term effect on one’s overall health. If you are concerned your child may have obstructive sleep apnea, or you yourself have it and you are concerned about your long-term health, talk to your doctor or pediatrician about steps you can take towards treatment. If the grinding persists and there is a legitimate concern about worn-down enamel, talk to your dentist about a safe mouth guard he or she would recommend.
Unfortunately, some people just don’t like going to the dentist! For children especially, just the idea of their first visit at first can be a very uncomfortable thought. Just imagining sitting in a big chair, in an unfamiliar room, having a bright light shone in their face with a stranger prodding areas of their mouth, can be frightening especially if it is a child’s first time or they have had a treatment in the past that was less-than-fun.
At the Kidds Place, our dentists and dental assistants are trained to make your child feel as comfortable and safe as possible during their visits with us. Pediatric dentistry is recommended for a growing child because oral health and overall health are directly linked during child development. A Pediatric dentist is required an extra 2-3 years of schooling specific to little teeth and little mouths that an adult dentist may not. Because regular cleanings can be so pertinent to a child’s quality of life, we set children overcoming their dentist fears at a high priority. Yet despite our efforts, we understand some children are more sensitive to new experiences than others.
It is recommended by the American Dental Association that a child have their first dentist appointment before they reach age 1 – after the first tooth emerges, but no later than their first birthday. This means that there is a chance that by the time a child is old enough to know what going to the dentist means, they may not be able to recall the experience of their first time.
When this is the case, remind them beforehand of their next visit with positivity. Try not to go into too much detail. If they ask a more specific question, say something like, “Doctor ____ is going to be cleaning your teeth!” If your child has reached toddlerhood and either does not remember their first visit, or it is their very first time, some experts even suggest going into the office prior to the appointment so the child will see a face they recognize at their next visit. If you call ahead, most offices will let you go in and meet the dentist that will be treating your child.
Another suggestion for parents to try at home is by doing a “pretend” examination. Place your child in a recliner, tell them to open wide, and count their teeth one at a time with the end of a toothbrush. It will acclimate them to the sensation of someone else touching their teeth.
The younger a child has regular visits to the dentist, the better. It provides a “dental home” and builds trust. It is stated that kids may go an average of ten times to the dentist before they even begin kindergarten. That’s a lot! That means they may see the dentist before age 6 more frequently than they see their distant relatives!
Comfort and Reassurance
If your child is still uneasy, bring along an item that is calming and familiar, like a stuffed animal, to your next appointment. (Although we’re certain that once they see the inside of the Kidd’s Place, they will get distracted by all the neat stuff we have!) If it’s your child’s first time and they need a little extra comfort, it is not unheard of that the practicing dentist will allow your child to lay on your lap while they are examined if a situation calls for it.
When speaking about the dentist, even your own personal experiences, avoid using trigger words like “hurt” and “pain”, even if you are saying to your child, “Don’t worry, it won’t hurt!” Their mind will focus on the word “hurt” which can lead to confusion and unnecessary fear. Being scared of something can be a learned behavior, and if you as a parent do not like the dentist, it is best to not taint the view your child may already have or one that is being developed in their mind. Most of the time, a child’s first few visits rarely include a treatment such as a filling or a cap, especially if they have a proper dental routine at home. If a child takes good care of their teeth, normally there is nothing of discomfort to fear at the dentist.
For any additional questions or concerns, contact our office. If you are still considering our practice, read our incredible reviews of our friendly and welcoming staff. We’re voted the best by many for calming fears and positive experiences for kids!
Mouthwash can be one of the most refreshing steps of a daily routine. It removes excess bacteria, strengthens enamel, whitens teeth, and provides instant fresh breath. Mouthwash is the step in a dental oral hygiene regimen that can provide extra protection beyond brushing and flossing. At the Kidd’s Place, we specialize in being able to recognize the different needs presented with kids’ teeth. Here are some things you need to know about your kids using mouthwash.
Fluoride is a mineral commonly used to strengthen teeth and to prevent cavities from forming. It is primarily found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and even most water systems in the U.S.! However, it is not recommended that a child uses fluoride toothpaste regularly until after age 2 (except for a small smear on their toothbrush), and mouthwash until after age 6. This is due to the risk of fluorosis.
Fluorosis is something that can happen in the process of children’s teeth developing. It occurs when there is an overexposure to fluoride. It can cause the outer texture of the tooth to become bumpy, or white or brown spots to appear on the teeth. While fluorosis only causes issues in appearance and can be easily prevented, it can be difficult to remove.
Knowing When the Time is Right
Despite mouthwash not being recommended until age 6, every child is different. That being said, age 6 is just about the time adult teeth are starting to come in and certain baby teeth are beginning to loosen. When introducing a child to mouthwash for the first time, it is most important that they have the self-control and awareness to not swallow it automatically as they would a beverage.
To know whether a child is ready to use mouthwash without swallowing, there is a simple test: using a cup of water by the sink, ask the child to swish it around in their mouth and to spit it out. If they are able to do this without swallowing, then they will most likely be able to do it with mouthwash. Make sure it is used after brushing and flossing. It is not recommended to allow children ages 6-12 use mouthwash unattended.
For additional practice, try supervising your child in the form of a game. Use a mouthwash recommended for children that does not have that strong or harsh taste. With a stopwatch in hand, say “Go!” and time your child for exactly a minute as they swish and rinse. Feel free to cheer them on and have fun with it. When it reaches a minute yell “Stop!” and have them spit. This is excellent practice that engages parents and kids and allows them to adjust to the sensation of swishing.
Mouthwash & Braces
For young teens, braces can be immensely time-consuming when cleaning. Mouthwash is an excellent tool because it can reach places that plaque can build up that is perhaps difficult to reach with floss or a toothbrush alone. It can also loosen very small bits of food that can get lodged in the braces. This does not mean flossing or brushing should ever be neglected; mouthwash is meant as an additional cleaning agent and should not be used exclusively on its own for cleaning, especially since braces present such an opportunity for bacteria and plaque to flourish.
The Long-Term Benefits of Mouthwash
For adults and kids alike, mouthwash is designed to boost the effects of brushing twice daily, and flossing once daily. Talk to your child’s dentist whether a fluoride mouthwash is something that should be introduced to his or her oral hygiene regimen. Most dentists will even have a specific brand or type they would recommend. Instilling these habits early on can ensure a lifelong healthy smile!
Generally speaking, little ones love their binkies. They satisfy the “suck reflex” babies often have associated with bottles and breastfeeding. This provides a calming and soothing effect, which is helpful at night and at naptimes especially if a baby is fussy or fighting sleep.
It is not a surprise therefore that parents are advocates for soothers as well. Pacifiers often provide some peace and quiet and can help a baby get to sleep while being rocked or held. What’s more, although no exact reason has been proven, there has been a direct correlation in many studies conducted between pacifier use and lower rates of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Dental Health & Pacifiers
There are pros and cons to pacifier use, and every child and parent is different. There is no set age or set time recommended by experts, as many of them differ in opinion.
As long as an infant is able to break his or her binky habit by the time multiple teeth begin to grow in, there shouldn’t be any reason the pacifier should affect their long-term dental health. This is especially true if a child is reduced to only using it at night or naptimes.
Pacifiers can help with teething and soothing the gums but they should never be dipped in juice as this can cause cavities on baby teeth. Some babies do not need a binky as much as others. If a baby is able to be soothed without one it is best to not force the habit upon a child before attempting soothing in other ways – rocking, feeding, etc.
Unfortunately, many toddlers get into such a habit of using the pacifier that not only will they not stop asking for it, but after a parent finally takes it away, they can develop the habit to suck their thumb. Prolonged habits of thumb-sucking can eventually cause misalignment as teeth are growing in. If the thumb-sucking continues, it could call for the need for braces later on.
#1 Take it Away Early
Reportedly, some parents have taken a pacifier away as young as 3 months old, suggesting that it is much easier to stop the habit of a newborn than a toddler. Other parents recommend simply limiting it at around 3-6 months old, strictly to bedtime and naptime. Of course many would make exceptions to this – long car rides or airplane trips – but it is believed by many that the younger, the better. Weaning the pacifier does not always work for older children and can cause confusion and arguing.
#2 Make It Defective
One of the ways to stop a child from wanting their pacifier is to “break” it. It is never recommended to cut the tip of a binky with a scissors, as small pieces off it can break off and pose a choking hazard. However, by simply taking a thumbtack or needle and poking a small hole at the tip, air will freely pass through. This will cause the child to think it is broken as it will no longer satisfy the sucking reflex.
#3 Use them to “Buy” Something Else
If there is something your child desperately wants, be it a new toy or a pet goldfish, explain to them that it can only be purchased by the Binky Bank. Help them gather up all the pacifiers in your home and put them in a container to be offered in exchange for the item. As they physically donate to the Binky Bank they will be reminded that there are no more pacifiers in the house and they will better understand prioritizing by giving up something they want for something they want more.
#4 Set a Time & Stick to It
Whatever you as a parent personally decide is the right time for you and your child, schedule a date that they will no longer use the pacifier. You could use a memorable day that could indicate a milestone for your child – for example, their 3rd birthday, followed by a statement such as “big girls/big boys don’t need binkies!” Up until that time remind them of the day they will no longer be able to use their pacifier. This will give them time to accept it and process through it, as giving up the habit cold turkey can be very difficult for some children. Once you have made a decision, do not change your mind! There may be a few times after this day that they will ask for their binky again, but remind them of the time they became a big kid and stand your ground.
#5 Give it Away
Similar to the Binky Bank, but instead with a giving mentality. If your child is old enough to understand the concept, explain to your child that there are children younger than them who need their pacifiers, and that they are too old to keep theirs. As you encourage them to press toward the decision of giving them away it may be helpful if there is a younger cousin or neighbor toddler to use as an example. Round up all the pacifiers in your home with your toddler and leave them for the “Binky Fairy” at night who hands them out to new babies being born. If it is around the holiday season, make the suggestion of leaving them for Santa Claus.