Category: Toddler and Child Tooth Care

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 popular corporations. Yet the Tooth Fairy is a very unique legend, as she only comes into conversation around the years children are losing teeth, and the 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 at 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.

The Science Behind Why Naps are So Important
The Science Behind Why Naps are So Important

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.

loving african mother napping with baby boy

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. 

What’s Living on Your Toothbrush?
What’s Living on Your Toothbrush?

Did you know that there can be as much bacteria in an unbrushed mouth as there are on a bathroom floor? Toothbrushes can be a breeding grounds for all kinds of germs and yet it is something we use in our mouths every day!

They can contain often harmful viruses and pathogens; and because most infections and sicknesses are transferred through the mouth, why wouldn’t you want to have it as clean as possible?

While there is no way to have a completely bacteria-free brush, there are precautions you can take to making sure nothing is being spread around, especially if you have a big family where sickness can easily bounce from person to person.

There are more than just sanitary reasons in play. When the bristles on a toothbrush begin to bend outward, it is rendered by dental professionals to be ineffective. This is prone to happen after a few months of frequent use. As the bristles lose their suppleness, getting plaque and other bacteria off of teeth becomes more difficult. You want firm, flexible, and straight so that the toothbrush can do its job properly.

Here are some habits you and your family can develop to ensure happy, healthy, and clean mouths for all.

  1.   Replace your toothbrush at least every 3 months

A great way to remember to do this is to pick up a variety pack every few months on one of your big grocery shops. If this seems too expensive for a big household, Dollar Stores all over the U.S. have packs of two or more for sale. This means if you have 5 people in your household and you replace their brushes 4 times a year, it is well under $20 dollars to keep them regularly changed! Twenty dollars a year averages out to just under two dollars a month.

  1.   Keep it Away from the Toilet

Charles Gerba, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Arizona College of Public Health, Microbiology & Environmental Sciences, remarks that after a toilet has been flushed in a restroom, the spray from the force of the flush settles on all surrounding objects. This means that fecal matter is living on most toothbrushes left out in the bathroom (can I get a big “EEEEEWWWW”?!).

This can be easily remedied, by keeping brushes at least three meters from the toilet’s surface and also by closing the lid before flushing (especially with #2!)
While it might seem easier to keep the brushes in a sealed container, this can actually cause mold to grow and bacteria to spread more than in open air.

  1.  Don’t Share Brushes

It may seem like a no-brainer, but even if you are comfortable sharing drinks with family members, toothbrushes are drastically different! Instead of simply putting your mouth on something, think of it as sharing a device that is designed to scrape all of that bacteria out!

Contrary to popular belief, toothbrushes are not benefitted by being put in the microwave or dishwasher for cleaning. Not only is it not as effective as it seems but it can actually cause damage to the brush, causing you to have to replace it sooner.

Baby Tooth Loss: What to Expect
Baby Tooth Loss: What to Expect
MH_eruption_primary

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
unnamed

Download our app on Apple OR Android!

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.

What Age Should a Child Start Flossing?
What Age Should a Child Start Flossing?

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.
flossing concept
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!

What Are Dental Sealants?
What Are Dental Sealants?

According to the American Dental Association, 4 out of 5 cavities occur in the many crevices of our molars. This can be predominant in children as they are not as experienced in cleaning their teeth.

The grooved areas are what are known as “fissures”, and since most of our predominant chewing is done by our back molars, that means bacteria, food, and plaque build-up often occur in these areas. In adult teeth, the fissures are deeper than baby molars. When particles become trapped, they can accumulate bacteria and ultimately break down a child’s enamel, forming a cavity. 

Because some of these cracks are so minuscule, they may be difficult to reach by way of traditional brushing due to bristles not being thin enough or strong enough. 

Sealants are a protective, clear coating that protects these fissures from decay. As adult molars begin to erupt (usually at ages 6 and 12, but the time frame can vary) these sealants can be added to a child’s tooth prevent cavities from forming. They are applied by first cleaning a tooth using a rotating brush, and then rinsed with water. The tooth is then dried, so the sealant can adhere to the surface of the tooth. Once it is placed, the substance is then dried with a special curing light which causes it to set as a hard varnish. Then viola! The tooth can now be used normally for chewing. While it is not common, adults are known to have this procedure done for preventative measures as well. 

Invented in the 1970s, sealants have been known to be fairly effective. The average life span for a sealant is 5-10 years and can be re-applied if necessary. As long as the covering remains intact, it stays effective for the child and into adulthood as well. If a sealant is broken or becomes loose, it should be removed immediately by a dentist so that the procedure can be redone. Quick and painless, you cannot really go wrong with sealants!