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).
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.
Toddlers needing sleep is a no-brainer. A newborn sleeps anywhere from 16-17 hours a day, and as they grow older still require over 10 hours. This is a necessary amount for their mental, emotional, as well as physical growth. However, studies show that naps aren’t just for little kids. People of all ages can greatly benefit from this practice.
Did you know?
In much of the world, particularly Latin America, they have what is called “siesta”, which is loosely defined in Spanish as an afternoon power nap. It is commonplace in many of these countries, even places like Portugal and Spain, to take a short rest in the middle of the day as a societal practice. Businesses close and then re-open to prepare for a second rush. Some people say it is due the intense heat that occurs at midday around this time; although it could be that coupled with the consumption of the most filling meal of the day at lunchtime. Sounds nice, right?
Latinos are not the only people group that have adapted this. In Japan, they are beginning to implement what are called “sleep salons” where individuals can take a power nap if they need to. Japanese schools – even high schools – are also beginning to integrate a 15 minute afternoon nap, mandatory for all students to increase alertness. In China, their midday rest is so ingrained in their culture it is seen as a Constitutional right. Did you hear that? Chinese adults all over the country view taking a nap in the middle of the day as important as paid leave, or health insurance.
Sadly in United States, napping is often viewed as indulgence and even laziness. The only city known to incorporate a napping policy has been seen in a few companies in New York city, but that is it. Yet – we are considered one of the most fast-paced, stressed out, and sleep-deprived countries. Putting it in perspective, it’s rather shocking.
Here’s what the Sleep Foundation has to say about the effect naps can have on the adult body:
- Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
- Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
- Scheduled napping has also been prescribed for those who are affected by narcolepsy.
- Napping has psychological benefits. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.
How would one get a restful sleep in the constant chaos of American hustle and bustle? Many recommend short naps, anywhere from 15-20 minutes. The reason for this brevity is because after a certain length of time our bodies can slip into a deeper sleep, making it more difficult to wake up and can even leave you feeling more tired than you were before. This is why children, who require more sleep than adults, nap over an hour at a time because it allows the child to cycle through this deeper sleep before they wake up.
Have trouble falling asleep? You are arguably one of many thousands of people who claim they are unable to have a midday catnap! However, science would argue and say that every single individual is capable of napping, it is just up to the person to determine what would distract them from doing so and the mental barriers that would need to be removed in order to gradually enter into sleep.
Experts suggest that you do not nap any closer than three hours to your bedtime, and try to wait at least a few hours after you wake up. It is recommended to cover your eyes with a mask or make it so there is little to no light getting into the room you are in. Also, eliminate sound the best you can and discover what relaxes you. Some use essential oils or calming music or sounds such as ocean waves. Set your alarm for 25 minutes or so, depending on how long it typically takes you to fall asleep, so that you will not exceed 20 minutes.
If you are a stay-at-home mommy (or daddy!) with a toddler who only requires about one nap a day, the best advice often claimed is to “sleep when they do!” Afternoon naps can be a source of bonding between you and your child, and can leave you both feeling rejuvenated.
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 requires 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 the 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.
Spring has sprung! With the long winter behind and warm weather ahead, now is the time kids will start playing outside more and more. Why not show them an outdoor hobby that could be a valuable skill for the rest of their life?
Gardening and landscaping are a great skill set to have because both are great for recreational and commercial purposes. Whether you already grow your own vegetables, herbs, or maybe have only a few plants around the house, having greenery near or inside the home has proven benefits. Cultivate the interest with your children now – they may just have a green thumb!
Here are some fun and easy gardening ideas for kids:
Egg Carton Greenhouse Via Hazel and Company
Egg cartons make excellent containers for soil. They are just absorbent enough to prevent the dirt becoming waterlogged. Simply pour soil in the carton so that it is about half-full (enough to still see the dividers that go between the eggs). Place the seeds on the top soil, and gently press them in (depending on the seeds you buy, it may say on the packaging to plant slightly deeper). Then water the soil thoroughly.
When the carton appears to have mostly dried, wrap plastic wrap around the carton. This creates a “greenhouse” effect because moisture stays in the soil longer. This means the seeds will not have to be watered again until after they have sprouted.
The greatest part is that egg cartons fit most standard window sills, so they can get as much sun as possible. What is more, if it gets knocked over there is no mess!
Avocado Pit Planting via KidsGardening.Org
Take an avocado pit and let it dry out for a few days. Then, take three toothpicks and poke them on all sides of the pit to suspend it over a cup of water. This is particularly neat for kids to watch because it does not take long to see sprouting out the top! Make sure it is not submerged but that the water comes up at only about half.
Once the pit has sprouted, pot the plant in fresh soil and watch it grow!
Herb Terranium via Feels Like Home Blog
Terraniums are fun, beautiful, and you do not have to wait for them to grow – this might be a good idea for kids who are easily bored or impatient! This particular terranium can be completed for under 15 dollars in less than an hour!
Start off with a large jar or fishbowl – any glass container that has an easily accessible top. From there, buy two or more small plants or herbs you’d like to put in the terranium. Either find some gravel from around your yard or go out and buy some, and place it at the bottom of the jar.
Next, you’re going to want to separate the soil from the gravel. This can be done by using the mesh bags similar to the ones gravel or fish rocks come in. If you did not have to purchase either of these items, other mesh materials like pantyhose will work. From there, pour the soil on top so that water can go through but soil does not get trapped in the rocks. This is because a glass bowl is impermeable, and the plants will drown if there is no draining system.
If you would like to add moss, it can be found in sidewalk cracks, trees, or perhaps other areas of your backyard. While it is not mandatory, it really brings the whole look together. Before placing the moss into the terrarium, be sure to soak the dirt side in water so that the soil can bond together.
Before planting, try a few arrangements to see what would look best. Once you have planted them, be sure to water them right away and then add decorations if desired (rocks, shells, etc).
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.
Do you remember the age you started flossing?
Do you still struggle, as an adult, to floss daily?
The truth is, some of our longest-lasting habits begin at a young age. Small tasks like combing our hair or tying our shoes begin in the earliest years, long before we’ve fully developed the strength in our hands to master them.
For children, these serve as mile markers on their road to independence, as they should: learning these basic skills are those which they will use the rest of their life. Anyone who has kids knows celebrating these baby steps of development can be really special to watch unfold. Everyone has their firsts, right?
What to Look For
Kids usually have all of their baby teeth by the time they are two years old. As their mouths grow, change, and new teeth begin arriving, the space in between closes up. Experts suggest that teeth come closer together anywhere between 2 to 6 years old; basically the time between a child gets all their teeth, and the age they typically begin losing them to larger, adult teeth.
When your child’s teeth look like they’re touching, this is the time to instill the habit of flossing. Tight spaces can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which is a place a toothbrush simply cannot reach.
By age 2, it is recommended that a child has seen a dentist at least once. So if you are unsure about beginning to floss, ask your pediatric dentist at your child’s next appointment and they will be able to tell you when the time is right. Again, every child is different.
How to Start
Depending on how old, they may insist trying to floss on their own. But remember, even if they are almost 6 or so, they will not have the full strength and dexterity in their hands to floss properly until they are at least 10.
Establish habits, and establish them early. You can do this by setting a good example and showing your child the proper technique before you do it to them.
Start by taking a generous amount of floss (roughly 18 inches), and hold it at either end with both hands. Then, wrap your finger around towards the center, until there is about an inch of floss remaining. This is what you will use in between the teeth. Every few teeth or so, unwrap and re-wrap the floss so that the inch is at a different place in the floss.
Gently glide in between each tooth using back-and-forth motions. Make sure your child sees this, so they know not to simply just plunge the floss deep into the gums (ouch!)
Old Habits Die Hard
Once this is developed, it can become a part of a child’s routine, and they can become quicker at it so it is not seen as an incredibly time-consuming chore. If this is the case, flossing will be done less and less and become a thing of the past. This means bloody gums at their next dental appointment (more ouch!) and flossing will be that much harder to get back into.
Set a good example, and teach your child to floss every day. It will be a skill they will carry with them the rest of their life!
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, juices 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.
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!
So named due to the time known for starting to gain “wisdom” (late teens, early 20s), wisdom teeth are a third set of usually 4 molars that appear behind the six and twelve-year old molars. Many children begin experiencing the signs of early wisdom teeth forming, which is why at times this can be a topic of discussion and concern even at a pediatric dentist level. Thirty percent of people are born without them, and not everybody has exactly four – in rare cases, some only receive two, or three, and some even get five or six.
Most children do not have to be bothered with wisdom teeth until adulthood, but those who are ahead of the “growth curve”, (perhaps lost most of their baby teeth very early) have been known see signs of complete development as young as 14. Wisdom teeth extraction is usually performed when there is impaction, or the x-rays show the teeth coming in will be problematic. Usually the x-rays from your routine dental exam act as a good indicator of if and when an oral surgeon should be seen.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to: tightness of teeth, gum tenderness behind molars, slight jaw pain or pressure in other teeth, and of course, teeth breaking through the surface. Partial eruption is when the wisdom tooth begins to break through the gums. Thankfully, if the teeth appear to be growing in straight, then they can be extracted the same way a normal tooth would be. However if they are impacted (growing in crooked), they will begin to affect their surrounding teeth. If this remains untreated for an extended period of time it can lead to sores, then infection, and sometimes decay. That is why early wisdom teeth extraction often for preventative reasons.
Ask your child’s dentist if there is an oral surgeon he or she would recommend. They can vary in uniqueness and different methodologies. Most patients require nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and local anesthesia, but some surgeons have the qualifications and authorization to sedate patients if the procedure is deemed more severe. For those with already intense anxiety at the dentist, an oral sedative (usually Valium) may be prescribed to the patient for added comfort.
Every mouth is different and will entail maneuverings specific to the situation. The surgeon will typically meet with the patient (and in the case of a minor, their parents as well) prior to the operation to go over exactly what the plan of action is, using x-rays as a form of reference if necessary. This will allow the patient to be well-informed about pre-extraction protocol, and will also give the surgeon the benefit to know about any accommodations that they might need. Oftentimes the doctor will require a parent, loved one, or good friend to be present at the appointment to understand the methods which to look after the patient post-extraction.
After the wisdom teeth have been removed, there are certain things to expect the 24 hours following. Replace moist, clean gauze every 45 minutes over the empty tooth sockets until bleeding stops. Moist tea bags may also be effective as the natural tannic acids in tea can help the blood clot. If necessary, alternate ice packs on either side of the face in 10 minute increments to reduce swelling.
For pain, it is recommended to use Tylenol, or Ibuprofen (which is also an anti-inflammatory). It is not uncommon that heavier pain killers are prescribed by the surgeon in advance. Oftentimes antibiotics are also given to the patient if there is any pre-existing infection in the gums. Make sure solid food is not consumed the first few days. As for teeth brushing, avoid the teeth around the sutures for 24 hours and then resume brushing, but very gently.
Ask anyone who has had it, dry socket is the worst. This occurs when the scab formed over the extraction becomes dislodged; exposing the jaw and sensitive nerves. This can cause intense pain for 5 to 6 days. It can be prevented by not drinking through a straw and not swishing liquid around in the mouth. If this occurs, contact your oral health care provider.
Most individuals in their life will have to deal with their wisdom teeth at some point. With any luck, these extra molars will grow in straight and not require extraction. Some oral healthcare professionals believe in acting sooner rather than later if the need arises. The x-rays taken at your child’s regular oral check-ups will be a good indication to your dentist as to when would be a good time to see an oral surgeon – even if your child is only in their teens! Keep an eye out for those emerging little friends… and in the meantime, do not forget to floss between your back molars!