Category: General Tooth Care Info

What’s the Big Deal About Primary Teeth?
What’s the Big Deal About Primary Teeth?

Here at the Kidds Place, we know that newborns and infants have an enormous amount of needs – the phrase “high maintenance” doesn’t even begin to cover it! It’s no wonder oral health can easily be sidelined during these times; to make way for other health and dietary needs that seem more pressing. It could quite possibly be due to the fact that we typically associate dental care with people who, well – actually have teeth!

You may have heard of dentistry for children, or have read about the importance of children having several visits with a pediatric dentist before all adult teeth erupt and all baby teeth are lost.

In fact, most experts say that all children should see a dentist before their first birthday, or around the time their first tooth erupts – whichever comes sooner. But why?

Here are some parents many questions may be asking themselves –

“Does my one-year-old baby really need to see a dentist? Aren’t pediatric dentists kind of expensive, even with insurance?”
“Why would my child need to see a dentist if they haven’t even started eating solids yet?”
“How bad is it if my child gets a cavity in their baby tooth, if they’re just going to lose the tooth anyway?”
“How much brushing is really necessary, especially if my child only has a couple of teeth?”

Let’s address these plausible objections. First of all, the Kidds Place accepts many forms of insurance and we are delighted to work with families and discuss prices for the types of care your child(ren) may need and the services we provide. Honestly, treatment from a pediatric dentist is going to be better for your child in the long run especially in terms of their experience. They are more likely to feel safe and welcomed at our offices, and our employees are trained to help acclimate our young patients that may be scared or unsure.

Much of what dentistry for children accomplishes is preventative care. This means not just bi-annual cleanings, but teaching proper hygiene and catching decay early, if there is any. When there is decay in baby teeth, there is a chance that the adult teeth that replace it can have issues as well. Oral health and the functions in rest of the body are directly correlated.

For infants especially, it is highly possible for childhood caries to emerge; also known as Baby Bottle Syndrome. This more or less is a cavity caused by habitually leaving a bottle in a child’s mouth for too long or the repeat use of a pacifier dipped in a sugary substance like juice. Oftentimes when a child falls asleep with a bottle in their mouth repeatedly (and they already have one or more teeth), plaque from sugar in juice or formula can begin to accumulate on the teeth. Baby Bottle syndrome commonly affects the front top teeth, as this is where the bottle or pacifier sits.

Even when a child is first born, wiping in the inside of their mouths gently with a clean washcloth can help eliminate bacteria. As soon as the first tooth erupts, start brushing that tooth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that is safe for infants. Practice doing this daily until the child is able to do it themselves.
The mouth is full of germs, and from the time teeth are present and onward, decay can occur. If decay occurs and goes untreated, this can result in pain and infection. When one or several baby teeth are rotten, this can affect the growth of the adult tooth indefinitely, even if it is removed early. This is because the 

spaces created by baby teeth create a sort of pathway for adult teeth to grow into. Primary teeth merely act as a placeholder for adult teeth, and are of course necessary for speaking, eating, and smiling. When baby teeth are removed prematurely, adult teeth of course will still grow in, but oftentimes they are not as straight and it can sometimes be a longer and painful process than usual.

If your child has teeth and has not yet seen a dentist, don’t panic! We’re here to help. The first appointment is mostly to educate parents and to inform them of their child’s development and needs. Preventative dental care is very important and can help eliminate so many problems down the line that have the potential to be not just painful for your child, but also expensive and time-consuming. Give us a call and we would be thrilled to help you and your family begin healthy, long-lasting smiles for your kids!

The True Cost of Not Flossing
The True Cost of Not Flossing

“How young is too young to start flossing?”

“How long can I go without flossing?”

“How long has it been since I last flossed?”

“How can I trust my child to floss regularly without them hacking into their gums?”

The truth is, whether your child is under a year or in their preteens, dental health and questions about oral care can often sit on the back burner. These are questions you may not find yourself asking because physical health and mental growth can seem so much more pressing.

What most of us do not realize is that our dental health actually has a significant impact on our overall health. A truly healthy body does not coexist with a mouth that is decayed and infected.

So what’s the big deal about flossing?

Regardless of age, flossing is incredibly important because it cleans areas of your teeth a traditional toothbrush does not. The crevices between our teeth can store the most bacteria out of anywhere else in our mouth and can cause gum sensitivity and infection. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry says that flossing is the most important weapon against plaque.

Did you know that if you never floss, you’re only cleaning two thirds of your teeth? Imagine going months or even years only cleaning certain parts of your body. Everybody would really start to notice after a while!

You (or your kids) may retort: “I don’t have time to floss every single day.” That’s okay! While once daily is of course a good idea, dentists everywhere would agree that flossing as little as twice a week is better than not doing it at all.

Toddlers especially do not need to worry about flossing until their teeth begin to touch. When this happens, teach them how to hold the floss (between both hands, wrapped around their pointer and middle finger), and go in between the teeth gently. Once there, be sure to go over the edges of the teeth where it arches into the gums. You may have to do this until your child has developed the strength in their hands to do it on their own.

– To prevent bleeding, be sure to floss regularly and not cram floss through the teeth quickly, especially if it tends to get stuck. If waxed floss seems too thick, instead use dental tape. It is smoother and thinner.

– Unwaxed floss is rougher and will squeak when the tooth is cleaned. It may be more challenging for kids.

– Pre-measured, disposable flossers are great for a once-over but do not work well for people with bridgework.  

– Waterpicks are not an alternative to flossing as they simply loosen debris (which is why they are excellent for individuals with braces, dentures, and those recovering from wisdom teeth removal). 

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a condition that develops when gums do not have proper exposure to a proper cleaning. If you or your child flosses rarely or not at all, gums will become sensitive, bleed, and can even develop infections. While gingivitis is fairly common and can be cured very easily (flossing more), if action is not taken, eventually it can spiral into periodontitis, or gum disease; which is the root of many heart and lung conditions that can actually be fatal. It may take years of neglect to get to this point, it is still something to be aware of — and it says a LOT of how important cleaning in those hard-to-reach places can actually be!

Phone Services Temporarily Out of Order

Just an update from all of us here at the Kidd’s Place!

Unfortunately, our phones have been malfunctioning lately. If you call during business hours, we may not receive your call, but we are still here! We are open Monday-Wednesday, 7am-3:30pm, and Thursdays 7am-1pm. We are hoping to correct this problem as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience!

Preparing Your Child for their First Dentist Experience
Preparing Your Child for their First Dentist Experience

Do you have a child under the age of twelve months?

Dental experts say that a child should have their first dental appointment by the time they receive their first tooth or before their first birthday; whichever comes sooner.

You may ask yourself, where should I take them? Will my current primary dentist be a good fit for someone so young?

While there is nothing wrong necessarily with your child seeing your dentist, pediatric dentists come highly recommended. Not only because they are geared more towards a child’s needs but also because they complete two or more years of schooling than a standard practitioner for adults.

Pediatric dentists know not only the inner and outer complexities of a growing mouth, but are also equipped to balance the challenges that come with having an inexperienced and possibly terrified human sitting in their chair.

Despite a pediatric dentist’s trained expertise, children can often be traumatized by the initial experience if they are not used to their mouth being touched, or if their first visit requires treatment that might cause pain. This first visit can set the tone for the rest of their life as to oral care and how they view their bi-annual visits.

To avoid both prospects, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for you as a parent to prepare your child to be dentist ready.

Having someone else touch the inside of your mouth can feel very invasive if you’ve never experienced it before. To eliminate the nervousness and uncertainty of this sensation, have a “pretend visit” with your child. Lay them down on the couch or recline in a chair and ask them to open wide. Take the opposite end of a toothbrush and use it to count and touch each tooth. This is helpful especially if your child has missed the one year mark and is a little older – then they are able to understand what is going on.

Zhne putzenThere are also ways your dentist can help normalize the first experience. One idea is letting your child stand over you while the dentist pokes around in your mouth for a few minutes – this shows them there is no pain and there is nothing to fear. Another idea is having your child sit on your lap or lay on their back on you if they need additional comfort during the check-up or procedure.
Until this first dental visit rolls around on your calendar, there are plenty of just standard care practices at that will not only reduce the chances of early decay but get your child comfortable with their mouth. Here’s the list from Parents Magazine:

1. Stop sucking habits as early as possible.

2. Choose a soft and kid-friendly brushUse only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Too much or too little can be damaging in the long-term.

3. If your child is under 8, help them brush after breakfast and before dinner each day. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says children do not have the full and proper dexterity to brush their own teeth until age 8.

4. Avoid too much sugary drinks and snacks.

These steps and more can make sure your child is dentist-ready, and prepare them for a lifetime of oral health. If you have any further questions, you can always call our office at: 509-252-4746

 

Maintaining Healthy Habits On Summer Vacation
Maintaining Healthy Habits On Summer Vacation

Oh, to be a child in the summertime! It can be sometimes the most fun and carefree time of the year. The hours stretch out into days of leisure playing outside, inside playing games, or visiting friends. No teachers, no homework, no kid responsibilities – save maybe a few chores!

This can affect children a number of ways. Some enjoy it, but others can require more mental stimulation and become bored out of their minds. Gender, age, personality, and region can all play as variables into how a sudden loss of “structure” for three months can manifest.

Nowadays, many children turn to screens. Some may go over to friends’ houses more frequently; or maybe your house will be the one that’s constantly hosting play dates. Either way, lack of structure can be fun and more freeing, but it can also cause kids to slack in taking care of themselves.

When children are in school, they are typically eating at least one balanced meal a day, eating at specific times to fit around school, and going to bed and waking up around the same times. This routine can become so ingrained in their systems that remembering to brush teeth before bed or floss in the morning becomes second nature.

But in the summer time – especially being at friend’s houses, staying up later, and eating at home for most meals of the day, many of these habits easily fly out the window.

CBS News commented on the differences of habits during this time of year, and tested 6,400 children grades 1-12 and found this:

“Kids watched an average of 20 more minutes of television per day over the summer than during the school year and consumed about three more ounces of sugary drinks. Overall, exercise levels remained about the same throughout the year, with barely five more minutes a day of activity during vacation, though high school students were significantly more active in the summer. However, they still didn’t meet standard government recommendations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says children and teens should get at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity.”
Gaming kids
Ultimately, none of these statistics are innately life-threatening! However, we recognize parents’ frustrations with their children’s reactions to little to no structure. One parent comments:

“At some point, the kids always whine that there’s nothing to do, and honestly, at some point I can’t think of anything more,” she says. “There’s only so many times we can go to the pool or the Y for classes. I’m used to them being at school for six, seven hours a day now — and using that time to do my own work. So when summer comes, there’s suddenly many more hours to fill.”

It’s also worth noting that kids spend significantly less time outside these days. Although it depends on the community you live in, many parents do not feel comfortable with letting their children roam free unsupervised even in “safe” neighborhoods.

“Back in my day, we would just go outside all day and play in the neighborhood from morning to dinnertime,” she says. “We’d play sports, games, occasionally get a ride to the community pool or water park. Go to a park, or just hang out at someone’s house, watching TV or playing Nintendo.”

More couch time can mean more snacking, and unhealthy snacking (especially sweets!) can lead to cavities.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re one of those parents counting down the days until September.


1. Plan Ahead

Obviously don’t feel like you have to go super crazy – but if it is within your time and resources, plan day trips to take your children to explore maybe parts of town or surrounding areas they’ve never seen. Try going to a different park or visiting a relative that lives a little ways outside town that they don’t always see. Simply making plans in advance – even at the most base-level – forces the family to organize other tasks and down time around these events. Even just having one thing scheduled for the day can bring a little bit of structure back.
Three girls playing in park while holding hands
2. Try to Keep Bedtime Regular

We get it – kids stay up later and sleep in when they have no school. It makes perfect sense! This doesn’t have to be chaotic, though. If their bedtime is traditionally 8pm but they like to stay up late, make it 10 instead and enforce the evening routine around it. This means that kids are still brushing their teeth, changing into pj’s, etc, around a specific time, but they aren’t feeling forced to conform to their school sleep schedule. Maintaining the bedtime habits can also save you the trouble of having to re-establish them entirely come Fall.

3. Recognize that Down-Time Is Important

Rest is so crucial for brain development, rejuvenation, and even creativity. While it may seem like defeat when the television is on more frequently, these restful and mindless practices can actually be healthy and beneficial to a growing mind – in moderation, of course. It’s when it becomes too much that it is detrimental. After an hour or so, have your children take a break from screens. The truth is that even if your calendar is empty, limiting screen-time can force your children to come up with ideas of how to spend their time all by themselves. Boredom can be destructive when there are no other options, but when options are open it forces a child to make their own choices of how to spend their time, which is very important! For some ideas on cheap and easy crafts, check out our latest article: http://thekiddsplace.com/five-simple-cheap-kid-friendly-crafts-to-make-this-summer/

Sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kids-unhealthy-behavior-diet-exercise-tv-summer/

http://2machines.com/188407/

Five Simple, Cheap, Kid-Friendly Crafts to Make This Summer
Five Simple, Cheap, Kid-Friendly Crafts to Make This Summer

Being a kid in the summer time can be so fun and carefree! Days at the beach, family vacations, and BBQs, oh my!

No school, usually no extra-curricular activities, and unless your children are older than 15, probably no job responsibilities either.

Summer can be bittersweet for parents; it can be seen as a time of year filled with opportunity, projects, and activities, but also frustration on those down-days because kids of not being in school. It can therefore be easy for the kids to just kick back and do nothing. Or nothing enriching, anyway. 

You then decide (at least with the younger ones) to come up with ideas to keep them occupied – but at the same time, fighting the urge to not just place them in front of screens or assigning a list of chores so you can maybe get a little peace!

Don’t get us wrong; kids growing up learning how to do chores is definitely important, and can really be refined during the summer months. But what are some fun ways to make the days and weeks go by faster? What are some fun things to do as a family that don’t cost a fortune (or involve more screens)?

We’ve assembled a small list of ideas to get the ball rolling. Summer can be fun and cheap, too! It can also bring the family closer together on the days where everyone otherwise would be off doing their own thing.

(*Please note all crafts are taken from various sources and their images belong to the authors)

 DSC_0948

1. Hot Car Crayons

(Image and article via Come Together Kids)

Depending on where you live, there are just some days where it can seem WAY too hot to play outside! When that happens, here is a fun activity where using the heat can work to your advantage!

All you need is Crayola crayons, a silicone mold, a cookie sheet, and a car sitting out in the sun! Click to read more.

2. Make Homemade Ice Cream

(Image and article via Entertain Kids On A Dime) 20140520-222524-80724805

Fun and easy! Maybe you’ve attempted this before, but it’s only a few ingredients and everyone in the family can participate. You will need two large freezer bags, sugar, vanilla, half and half, ice, and able hands. Click to read more.

 

Sandpaper-Printed-Tshirt-cindy-hopper-alphamom3. Sandpaper Shirts

(Image and article via Alpha Mom)

So fun; you can even recycle old shirts you have laying around the house! This one also involves crayons, too. All you need after that is sandpaper and an iron. Click to read more.

 

4. Kool-Aid Play-Dough

(via Rachel Talbott)
(image via Kraft Recipes)Kool-Aid-Play-Dough-11117

Most people would have most of the ingredients used to make this non-toxic and even edible play-dough! All you need is flour, salt water, olive oil, and Kool-aid. Great for young kids to play with; more fun for older kids to make! Click to watch (6:06).

Water Bottle Tornado

(via SpaceBound)
(image via Steve Spangler Science)
tornado_tube_02
All you need is two empty 2-liter bottles – and if you can find it, a tornado tube. The coolest part is that you can get a little creative with this; instead of using just water for the tornado, you can have your child add food coloring or glitter! Click to watch (2:50).

Where Did the Tooth Fairy Come From?
Where Did the Tooth Fairy Come From?

The typical American childhood can have an element of magic and wonder when the trifecta of all mystical characters come to call: Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.

Can you remember when you were a child, anxiously waiting for Santa Claus? It seems that good old Saint Nick has a whole subculture of the Christmas season dedicated to him; with movies, songs, and rituals based around his appearance in every home on Christmas Eve.

Then there’s the Easter Bunny. Although not as prominent, children can get their picture taken with the rabbit in certain malls and shops, similar to Santa. Many parents put together an Easter basket for their children which frequently include references to the Easter Bunny (bunny-shaped candies, eggs, etc).  Both characters have also been branded by Coca-Cola, Cadbury, and other national corporations. Yet the Tooth Fairy is a very unique legend, as she only comes into conversation around the years children are losing teeth, and baby teeth can fall out at any time during the year. 

A Little History

It is very interesting how widespread this tradition is; the concept is actually centuries old and all over the world. It’s probably because most cultures view the loss of baby teeth as a coming of age or a rite of passage. Not only that, but losing teeth can be such a new and sometimes painful experience for kids. The idea of a Tooth Fairy (or a Tooth Mouse, if you’re in Europe) helps to normalize the new experience and helps it be not as scary. Cute tooth fairy vector

The act of saving children’s teeth can be dated as far back as medieval Europe. In the 17th century, not a fairy, but a mouse, was used as a character in France called Le Petite Souris (The Little Mouse), which would pay a child when its 6th tooth fell out. Some cultures have also used beavers, squirrels, and even cats and dogs for the ritual. Then there’s early Norse tradition, in which there was instead a “tooth fee” that was paid to a parent when their child lost their first tooth.

In Modern America

While the Tooth Mouse or other practices have been common for centuries, the idea of a Tooth Fairy was actually coined during a radio broadcast in the 1970s in Chicago by a DJ. After that, the American Dental Association was hounded by listeners with call after call about the so-called mythological character, and had several inquiries about her backstory.

Now, while the tradition of placing a tooth under your pillow was already a common practice in the United States (as well as even leaving notes for her), it was after this point that the popularity of the Tooth Fairy skyrocketed and became its own entity and gained a cultural following – with the help of an unlikely individual.

Rosemary Wells, a now-famous children’s author, was a college professor at the time this broadcast occurred. She was baffled by the response, so she took on an extensive project that included lots of research and writing magazine articles about the aforementioned history of how saving children’s teeth to be retrieved by a small creature came into existence. She surveyed parents about their rituals and published her findings. Wells became known as the Tooth Fairy Consultant, and ten years later opened up a museum out of her home in Illinois dedicated to the sprite.

Today, the Tooth Fairy is a well-known American tradition, with films, songs, and television shows branding her as a true icon for children going through a normal and inevitable change. Kids can react to this change a number of different ways; with fear of pain or loss, being grossed out, or even self-consciousness of having holes in their smile. Thankfully, the Tooth Fairy is there to add some excitement and incentive to wiggling those loose teeth! Reports say that on average, the Tooth Fairy pays up up to $3.70 a tooth, so teach your kiddos to save up!

Midnight Snacks: Totally Harmless?
Midnight Snacks: Totally Harmless?

Child obesity is an expanding epidemic. Less than a year ago, the American Heart Association reported that one in three children and teens in the United States are obese. While these statistics can be attributed to a number of different things, many causes of obesity can also directly correlate with dental health as well.

Of course, diet is the primary factor of weight gain, weight control, and overall health. Today in 2017, our understanding of nutrition is better than it ever has been. More and more, individuals are educating themselves about the molecular structure of food and how it affects different areas of our body.

When you eat better, you feel better. When one desires being healthy over looking thin, it can have exponentially better and longer-lasting results; both mentally and physically. Our children are no different. In fact, children need to consume certain fatty foods as a part of their development; and rarely should a focus for a child be to “lose weight” unless there is a significant obesity problem. Most importantly, the eating habits they establish today will set the tone for their adult eating lifestyle as well.

However, it’s not just WHAT you eat; but how much, and when. Recent studies have been uncovering the issues behind nighttime eating, and found that it not only disrupts our eating cycle and cortisol levels (a hormone that regulates metabolism, digestion, and hunger) but can also be directly correlated to cavities and tooth decay.

In order to be clinically considered a nocturnal eater, it means you have to consume a fourth or more of your daily calories after the evening meal. For many, this looks like a large dessert or late dinner after having eating something earlier in the evening (like a small supper), plus, waking up at night to have another snack. A fourth may seem like a lot, but if these foods are higher in calories, it’s not very difficult to do. The reason why this can lead to weight gain is simple: when your body is sleeping, it burns significantly fewer calories than when awake. If you sleep on a fourth of your food instead of using it for energy, it is stored as fat. 

Raiding the fridge and the pantry late at night are actually more common than you think, and can be alarmingly rampant in teenagers, especially those who stay up late regularly playing video games or other activities that can be accompanied by “vegging out” and snacking. If these habits continue past adolescence, the data doesn’t look good. Not only does nighttime snacking disrupt the biological clock, but it can also affect oral health as well.  A Danish study took a collective of adults ages 30-60 that identified as midnight snackers and tested them twice over the course of six years. What they found was that those who ate late at night lost more teeth, despite medical or genetic background – even those who smoked did not alter this factor. Man gamer in headset playing computer game and eating pizza in dark room

What the research suggested was that because we produce less saliva at night, midnight snackers have the disadvantage of not being able to rinse away bits of food in their mouth very well. This can be especially true if one goes to bed immediately after eating and does not take the time to brush their teeth. Chips, candy, and other carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, and after sitting in a dry mouth for several hours can turn to plaque. Plaque can turn to decay if not properly removed.

If your child struggles with hunger late at night, instead of opting for a snack high in carbs and sugar, offer a handful of baby carrots or an apple with peanut butter. If the need to snack persists, try eating dinner a little later or having a healthy snack an hour or so after dinner.  Working together, you both can break the cycle and ease bad habits into healthier ones!

Sources:
https://experiencelife.com/article/the-hidden-causes-of-late-night-snacking/
http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-midnight-snacking-20160704-snap-story.html
http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/article/ada-06-consumer-news-night-eating-tooth-loss-link
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ChildhoodObesity/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp#.WSh1tCMrKlM

Mouthguard Maintenance for Little Athletes
Mouthguard Maintenance for Little Athletes

Let’s be real here, parents. Kids can be really hard on their teeth.

If the dentist knows your child is in sports (particularly contact sports) there is a high chance they have recommended a mouth guard for your child to use during practices and games.

We know, we know – mouth guards can be pricey, especially if it is one that is custom-molded. But they can be well worth the investment when you consider how much future damage the device could be preventing. Its purpose is to minimize and force that could be exerted on to the teeth, jaw, or gums, either by clenching or by an outside source. Accidents happen, especially in combat sports! Getting hit in the face by a ball or being struck by another athlete by mistake is sometimes just a part of the experience. 

Taking steps to ensure your child’s mouth is safe is just as important as knee pads or a helmet. But just the use of a mouthguard is not enough – it is making sure your child is properly maintaining it – not just so it can be used long-term, but also so that it doesn’t become a breeding grounds for bacteria.

When a mouth guard becomes worn, the edges can begin to deteriorate. The rigidity and roughness can cause small abrasions in the gums and lead to infections. The reason why this is different than nicking yourself with a toothbrush is that yeasts and molds could potentially be living on the device depending on how frequently it is cleaned and where it is stored.

The General Journal Dentistry ran some tests on young sport’s players mouth guards. On one belonging to a junior high football player, the same bacterium found in an infected leg wound was discovered. Similarly, a hockey player’s guard got so contaminated with mold (five different kinds), that his exercise-induced asthma was triggered and worsened to where his inhaler was not capable of keeping his symptoms at bay while competing.

Here are some tips to help your child ensure that he or she gets the most out of a clean, and safe mouthguard:

1. Rinse before and after use with warm water or mouthwash

2. Brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste

3. From time to time (depending on how frequent the use) wash with soap and water

4. Make sure the container the mouthguard is stored in is sanitary and has some holes for air circulation. If the moisture inside is air-tight it can cause mold to grow.

5. To ensure the mouthguard does not get warped and keeps its shape, do NOT boil it in hot water to clean it or leave it out in the hot sun!

Talk to your child before investing in a mouthguard and share with them not only the benefits of wearing one, but the importance of taking care of it. Together, you can make sure your child is getting the most use out of it and protecting their beautiful smile!

Source: www. colgate.com

Thumb-Sucking: Is it Really A Big Deal?
Thumb-Sucking: Is it Really A Big Deal?

If you have ever seen a young child sucking their thumb, there is a chance it began around the time they were weaned off of a pacifier. When newborns begin breastfeeding, the act of sucking is associated with being calmed down and receiving nutrients. The motion actually releases endorphins in the brain, which alone can be addictive. This is why babies and toddlers use binkies to self-soothe, especially if they are anxious or have trouble sleeping.

Therefore sometimes for comfort, children will suck their thumbs after their pacifier has been taken away, even if it’s just in their sleep (often they will have been aware of not doing it in public and so they only resort to it only at night).

rihanna22

Fact: Rihanna, the famous pop artist, still sucked her thumb at age 23

The issue is that sometimes these habits can take several years to break – it is not unheard of that a thumb-sucker can continue up into their teens! This can cause multiple jaw issues later in life, as the teeth will rarely line up. Many require oral surgery; and not just for cosmetic reasons. This is because the thumb rests on the lower teeth forcing them in along with the sucking motion, and causes the upper teeth to grow forward because of the thumb being sucked to the roof of the mouth. Therefore, it creates a huge gap between the upper and the lower; often referred to as an “open bite”. If the addiction is even more severe, it can cause even skeletal damage.

How Do You Stop It?

1. Whenever you notice your child has not sucked their thumb in a while, be sure to point it out to them and praise them for it.

2. The next time you are at the dentist, have them explain to your child the medical reasons they should not suck their thumb and what could happen if they continue to.

3. There is a bitter liquid medication that can be prescribed by a pediatrician that is used to coat your child’s thumb so that it is gross to the taste.

4. If none of the above work, in a worse case scenario, secure socks over your child’s hands at night so they will not even be able to suck their thumb subconsciously.

Thumb-sucking is a very normal and comforting mechanism for kids, but if not stopped early can easily carry on into elementary age, and, with very few, into teens and adulthood. Most kids automatically give it up before age 4 or 5, and by this time it should have no permanent affect on adult teeth. If your child is older and still struggles with not sucking, ask your doctor or pediatric dentist how much it might be affecting their mouth development and what measures can be taken for them to stop.