Category: General Health and Safety

How Excessive Screen Time is Really Affecting Your Kids
How Excessive Screen Time is Really Affecting Your Kids

A recent report said that an adult will spend an average of 7 hours a day on the internet. When we examine social media and search engine traffic, this statistic seems not so surprising. Living in these digital times, people of all ages can become mesmerized and enticed by scrolling and tapping on a personal device; killing hours of time for any number of reasons.

Millennials then are faced with a challenge, as children are even more easily hypnotized and pacified than adults. If parents need quiet or a distraction it can be easily remedied by simply handing over a device, keeping a child occupied for up to hours at a time. Momentarily this seems like a quick-fix, and each and every time it becomes harder to withhold and to say no.

Don’t panic – we’ve all done it, and we aren’t here to pass judgement. We just want to share facts about enabling excessive iPad, iPhone, and tablet use for kiddos.

A lot of times children’s games and videos on mobile devices are designed for to be educational. This is not a negative thing. The problem is not that screens themselves are dangerous, but that they are addictive to adults as well toddlers all the way up until high school age.

Remember how your mom never let you sit too close to the TV? Maybe she or your dad limited your viewing time to two or three episodes a day? Mobile device usage is a double-whammy in this respect. It is always held within a few inches to the face, blocking out everything else and completely diminishing the surrounding environment. Remember that tablet games are also interactive, meaning that it requireblonde three years old baby shirt and shorts, sitting comfortably in sofa inside home at night reading and watching digital tablet, face illuminated by the light of the screens active participation from the child and therefore seizes their attention far more than television does.

Dr. Aric Sigman from the British Psychological Society says that when small children become pacified in this way, it creates the opposite affect of what you desire to occur without the device: the skills to engage with others and be entertained without relying on a screen.

Screen time too early in life “is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary—all those abilities are harmed,” Sigman says.

The exact psychology behind this is extensive, but at least one aspect of it can be explained quite simply.

Children are far more impressionable than adults and during development their minds are hypersensitive to their environments. When the brain is overstimulated repeatedly over a series of months and years, simpler activities like coloring with crayons or playing outside do not satisfy the mind because these activities are not as complex or entertaining. Upon discovering it is not as stimulating, boredom kicks in faster and so does the eagerness to return back to the mobile device. Therefore, prolonged screen-time can desensitize the want to play outside, exercise, and use imagination; all critical aspects of both physical and mental growth.

Remember when you got a yo-yo, and it was the coolest thing in the world, but then at one point you discovered video games, and the yo-yo collected dust on the shelf for the rest of its life? It’s like that, only a continual, cycling complex.

How is this remedied? Well, the simple answer is just to limit use or to not introduce it at all until the child is older. However, if you are wanting to still actively use mobile devices in your home, here are a few ideas we’ve cooked up to use as alternatives.

1. The next time you are in the car longer than a few minutes, encourage to make pictures in the clouds outside the window.

2. Play I-spy, by describing an object along the road and having your child guess what it is.

3. If they are old enough to read, try the alphabet game. That means start with looking for objects that start with an A, then B, etc.

4. Choose one day a week where there is absolutely no screen-time. Play outside or visit family and friends. Explain that this is just one day, and be consistent with thba9390e5-6004-4678-81e6-7746107ad6e9e habit. This means no screen time for parents either, other than talking or texting when necessary, so as to set an example. If you feel this to be too daunting, instead remove screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime and ask all your children to turn in their phones and devices. This will help everyone in the family sleep better, too.

5. If a child is stubborn and resistant to these ideas, change the passcode on the device. Tell them after an hour of outside play, chores, or any other activity you chose you can give it to them when they have completed the given task.

 

We hope these ideas are helpful and assist you in cultivating healthy and attentive young minds! To read more on this topic, click here.

Baby Tooth Loss: What to Expect
Baby Tooth Loss: What to Expect
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via The American Dental Association

Children typically begin getting loose teeth in between ages 6 and 7. When the first tooth starts to wiggle, it marks your child’s first steps on a long journey. The last adult teeth (wisdom teeth) usually arrive anywhere from 17 to 21. This means for a decade and a half, growing, losing old teeth, and maintaining a clean mouth is very crucial. This will facilitate the transition from a child’s mouth to teeth they will (hopefully!) have forever.

New teeth growing in and old teeth falling out means that a lot of drastic changes will be taking place inside your child’s mouth, even if it is spread out over a few years. To reduce chances of infection and decay, be sure to be adamant about them keeping up on brushings, flossing, and dental appointments.

There are 20 baby teeth that arrive in totality typically by age 3, and remain for roughly two years. Age 5-6 is the prime age a child will discover their first loose tooth. If this occurs before age 5, this is nothing to worry about, as some kids are just early bloomers. However, if teeth continue to loosen and fall out at this age, consult a dentist to ensure there is nothing wrong. Most children will have lost all by age 12, but once again, this age is not indefinite.

The last teeth to arrive are the third molars, also called wisdom teeth. While these to not arrive typically until late teens, these may have to be surgically removed depending on how they affect surrounding areas.

The prospect of losing this many teeth in a few years can seem scary to a child; especially one that is very sensitive or does not like change. The best thing to do is ensure them that it is a totally normal thing (and although they won’t remember teething, it is not really more painful than that!). The good news is that, because children all begin losing teeth at around the same age, they will be having the same tooth loss-experiences with their peers and be able to swap stories; making the experience feel that much more normal. 

Baby teeth fall out typically in the same order they grew in. This usually begins with the bottom front teeth and then move on to the top front. The general rule of thumb is that roughly every 6 months, 4 teeth erupt to the surface of the gums.

It is recommended however that you or your child does not FORCE a tooth out before it is ready. While a baby tooth being knocked out isn’t the worst thing that can happen (as an adult tooth will eventually grow in its place), it can expose sensitive tissue which can get infected. Definitely encourage wiggling and moving the tooth around, as this will slowly relax the tissue around it and enable the tooth growing behind to glide gently into its place.

So give up old tricks try tying dental floss to a tooth and a door! Be patient, wait for the tooth to loosen enough to where the adult tooth is just beginning to emerge. This will make the transition faster and smoother.

What to Do Immediately After a Dental Emergency
What to Do Immediately After a Dental Emergency
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Uh-oh!

Many parents will have to deal with some kind of oral injury with their kids at some point. Teeth can cause quite a bit of pain if they are damaged, and are sometimes knocked out by accident!

Did you know that The Kidds Place has an mobile app? On the app is a feature specifically designed for dental emergencies and will notify one of our pediatric dentists right away! Simply take a picture of the problem and upload it via the app. Take a moment to describe the issue and you won’t have to wait until the next business day to hear back.

Here are tools you can utilize once the problem is identified before you notify a dental care professional.

Toothache –

Clean the area of the affected tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth vigorously with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If face is swollen apply cold compresses. Take the child to a dentist.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip, or Cheek –

Apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take child to hospital emergency room.

Knocked Out Permanent/Adult Tooth –

Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root portion. You may rinse the tooth but DO NOT clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is solid and undamaged, try to reinsert it in the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on a gauze. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing the patient’s saliva or milk. The tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth. The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.

Sugar and ADHD
Sugar and ADHD

Does your child have ADHD? Or does he or she have hyperactive tendencies when sugar is ingested?

We’ve all heard, “Kids going crazy after eating candy is a psychological reaction. There’s no proof it actually does anything.” But if you’re a parent and you’ve seen and dealt with enough sugar meltdowns, have no fear. There is actually an explanation.

The truth is, the above statement may have some truth – there is no clinical research that suggests that sugar intake is the direct result of ADHD (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) or that it increases the symptoms of learning disorders, such as ADD or ADHD in young children.

Yet despite the lack of medical evidence, there is an overwhelming amount of claims that parents with children of ADHD and even adults with the disorder notice a change in behavior when copious amounts of sugar and carbohydrates are ingested.

However, there is a direct link between children’s abilities to focus and their protein intake. Neurotransmitters in the brain are responsible for regulating alertness, as well as allowing your body to sleep.

Protein helps regulate these chemical messengers, whereas ingesting sugars and carbohydrates (which eventually break down into simple sugars) trigger drowsiness, slowing down the process of gaining control of focus. So while sugar doesn’t make kids “hyper”, it counteracts a competent attention span. 

Whether your child really does have Attention Deficit Hyperactive disorder, or they really just have a ton of energy and are prone to misbehave, is difficult to tell without being examined by a pediatrician. While medication may be necessary for extreme cases, try changing a child’s diet first. It may not be easy, but it will help them for the rest of their life, despite you, loved ones, and teachers wanting immediate results – a quick-fix is never a lasting solution.

While there’s nothing wrong with sugar in smaller doses, excess sugar can hinder the work of the neurotransmitters and can be combatted with a protein-rich breakfast and lunch. This means skipping out on sugary cereals, donuts, and chocolate milk and replacing them with eggs, meat, and whole grains. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot, either. Balanced and portioned breakfasts can kick-start the day off right, which is a nod to the common mantra “the most important meal of the day.”

These findings support the popular belief that people with ADHD do better on a protein-rich breakfast and lunch. Yet child psychologist Vincent J. Monastra, Ph.D., head of an ADHD clinic in Endicott, New York, says that, of the 500 children a year he evaluates for ADHD, less than 5 percent are eating the government-recommended amounts of protein at breakfast and lunch. In addition to boosting alertness, says Monastra, a protein-rich breakfast seems to reduce the likelihood that ADHD medication will cause irritability or restlessness. – Attitude Magazine


Don’t forget fruit! Fruit has natural sugars and vitamins that are equally as important to a balanced diet. But be aware, anything packaged or processed – canned fruit, juiKids learning how to cook in a cooking class.ces from concentrate, fruit snacks, popsicles, etc – most definitely have high-fructose corn syrup and other preservatives found in candy; making there to be very little difference between the two. When in doubt, stick to fresh, raw, and organic! 

The hardest part about helping kids eat right is if they are already accustomed to a sugary diet. Ask your pediatrician for help transitioning into healthier foods, especially if you believe it could help your child’s focus levels.

Easing a child into healthy eating may take some time, but experts recommend more children involvement in the kitchen. While this may seem counter-productive, you’re actually teaching them life skills and healthy choices that can last a lifetime.

 

10 New Years Resolutions for Children that Will Inspire You Too
10 New Years Resolutions for Children that Will Inspire You Too

The phrase “New Year’s Resolutions” around this time of year can be downright cringe-worthy to hear for some of us.

Every January 1st comes and goes, and according to the polls the most commonly set resolutions are to eat healthier, lose weight, and spend more time with family. While innately these are great things, and should be desired anyway, there are some that just go gung-ho with their goals and are not realistic with themselves.

You can picture it now: hundreds of people signing contracts to gym memberships they will hardly ever use, nicotine patches going on sale for those who are determined to quit smoking by February, and local markets experiencing higher inventory demand due to the compulsion of individuals who have suddenly decided to “only buy organic from now on.”

It’s tradition. It’s cultural. You might be concerned about the idea of your child falling into the world’s dangerous mindset that they need to look or behave a certain way now that there is a different number on the calendar. It is for this reason we’ve compiled some noteworthy New Year’s resolutions children have set for themselves – and we hope they will encourage you to help your children set their own!

father and daughter looking fireworks in the evening sky

Do not confuse a resolution with a rule, like “go to bed on time” or “finish your homework every night” –  this is a given. A resolution is something out of the ordinary, going beyond every day expectation, yet still leading to stretching and self-improvement.  However, ensure that these are attainable, or at least reasonable goals. If there are too many, or something that the child is not interested in at all, certainly encourage it, but do not press it. Make sure these are things you BOTH want! The best part about this will be engaging your child to discuss where they are at, what they want to accomplish, and to not just help them be what they want to be “when they grow up”, but to stand by and help them grow here and now. 

No more than 2 or 3 resolutions are really necessary. They could be centered around your child’s health, character, or physical challenges.

Once they have been made, print them in bold letters on a sheet of paper and tape it to your child’s wall. This will be a constant reminder for them to continue and pursue their goals.

Here are some ideas:

    1. Pledge to set aside at least 15 minutes every day to read (either alone or with a parent) outside of school. Before bed is usually a good time.
    2. Set a goal to make a new friend (or two!) at school or a regular activity.
    3. Pick one day out of the week (Saturday is probably best) and let that be your “candy day”. From now on, you cannot have candy any other day of the week!
    4. Practice complimenting at least one person per day.
    5. Try a new sport, after school activity, or hobby and practice it consistently for at least 3 months.
    6. (For girls) Grow out hair long enough to donate to Locks of Love.
    7. Practice limiting video games to only 30 minutes on weekdays and NO phones whatsoever at the dinner table.
    8. Learn how to do a new chore (mowing the lawn, sorting laundry) and alternate doing them alongside siblings or parents.
    9. Find foreign language flashcards and memorize the basic site words.
    10. Donate a bag full of toys you no longer want or play with to a local shelter or children’s hospital.

 

Any of these can be adjusted to fit both the goals your child wants to set and the amount of effort you want to spend in holding them accountable. Having these goals in visible view is key, whether they be on the refrigerator, in their locker, or hanging up in their bedroom. If one of their resolutions is not recurring and has been completed, check it or cross it off the list. This will give your child a feeling of accomplishment, and will hopefully inspire them to set another!

Happy New Year!

 

Things You Didn’t Know Were Harming Your Teeth

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.

1. Bruxism

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.

2. Acidity

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.

3. Thumb-sucking

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.

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PC: WebMD

5. Picking

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!

How Does My Dental Health Affect the Rest of My Body?
How Does My Dental Health Affect the Rest of My Body?

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!

The Oily Truth
The Oily Truth

As of late, many home-based Millennial blogs have exploded with the implementation of an age-old remedy into a dental hygiene routine known as oil-pulling. Albeit probably several thousands of years old and originally from an Ayurvedic Indian technique, the idea was not brought to the Western world until the early 21st century. In 2008, Bruce Fife, author and certified nutritionist, wrote “Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing”. From there the concept grew steadily and gained quite a following. The trend made a comeback in 2014, where many female millennial bloggers (like a domino effect) brought it forth into the modern eye once more.

After it was discovered to have some viable testimonies, oil-pulling quickly became a well-known sensation.

How Do You Do It?

The idea is to take 1-2 tablespoons of unrefined organic coconut, sesame, or olive oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Many regular “pullers” like to spend this time answering emails, folding laundry, or showering – basically any 20-something minute activity that involves no speaking. When finished, one spits into a trash can and then continues their daily oral regimen as normal (brushing and flossing). The objective is to rinse the mouth of plaque similar to what a mouthwash will do – but instead of disinfecting the surface areas of the mouth with alcohol and harsh chemicals, toxins are supposedly “pulled” and plaque is loosened from the teeth and gums (NEVER recommended for kids).

Testified Benefits vs. Science

Because every mouth and oral health history can drastically differ from one person to the next, these “cures” are not one-size fits all, nor have all been verified by clinical studies. Here are some reported (not proven) health betterments from oil-pulling advocates representing all walks of life.

  • Natural teeth whitener
  • Strengthens gums/teeth/jaw (stronger jaw muscles can be attributed to the amount of mouth-movement it requires to swish that long every day)
  • Hangover and migraine cure
  • Helps with tooth grinding/tooth sensitivity
  • Improves halitosis or bad breath
  • Prevents cavities/tooth decay (sadly there is not much you can do to cure cavities other than having them removed by a dentist)
  • Detoxifies
  • Alleviates mouth pain
  • Balances hormones
  • Clears up acne & even eczema on the scalp

The list goes on and on! Yet the truth is that less than half of these healing properties can be traced back to any scientific data. As there are so many different factors that could interfere with studying the oil-pulling effects on the rest of the body (diet, body weight, uncontrolled environments, family medical history, etc), really the only way to reduce variables is to test that which takes place inside the mouth. Many of us would like to believe that fitting an additional 20 minutes into our daily routine could be a cure-all to nearly every aspect of our physical problems. While it generally would not be, any medical professional will tell you regardless that oral health and overall health are directly linked. Every life-threatening disease has an oral symptom or origin. For example, individuals with heart disease more often than not have some level of gum disease. Therefore, if oil-pulling has obvious oral benefits, it is only logical that there would be additional outward benefits.

Young beautiful brunette woman using mouthwash at her bathroom

Although not typically dentist recommended, controlled scientific studies have reassured us that, unless swallowed, oil-pulling is not harmful in any way. Swallowing oil permeated with bacteria can be known to cause upset stomach and diarrhea. In incredibly rare cases, when small amounts of oil are inhaled by mistake, it can cause lipoid pneumonia (one of the main reasons it is not recommended for children).

Mouthwash, (which much of society uses daily) is advertised as being able to eliminate 99% of germs – that includes the good germs, too! An organic oil can swish out enamel-eroding bacteria but enable healthy bacteria to live. Therefore coconut or sesame oil can be arguably a better alternative to mouthwash. In addition, it can remove plaque because of the intense pushing of fluids around in the mouth, and this can lead to visibly whitened teeth and most certainly reduce chance of cavities.

If oil-pulling works for an individual, and perhaps has more remedial effects outside of the mouth, more power to them! Again, just because it has never been proven that oil-pulling can or cannot improve any one aspect of oral health, does not mean it can’t. The practice should always be accompanied by brushing and flossing and never used by itself as a treatment. Built-up plaque is the cause of most dental problems, so eliminating this is half the battle. Doing so can have enormous oral and therefore bodily health benefits, regardless of how you choose to do it.

Canker Sores: Causes & Treatment

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?

Cry girl with sore mouth over whiteCanker 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.

Treatment

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.

Why We Grind Our Teeth: A Lifesaving Mechanism?

Bruxism

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
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PC: Randen Pederson

Solutions

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.