Generally speaking, little ones love their binkies. They satisfy the “suck reflex” babies often have associated with bottles and breastfeeding. This provides a calming and soothing effect, which is helpful at night and at naptimes especially if a baby is fussy or fighting sleep.
It is not a surprise therefore that parents are advocates for soothers as well. Pacifiers often provide some peace and quiet and can help a baby get to sleep while being rocked or held. What’s more, although no exact reason has been proven, there has been a direct correlation in many studies conducted between pacifier use and lower rates of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Dental Health & Pacifiers
There are pros and cons to pacifier use, and every child and parent is different. There is no set age or set time recommended by experts, as many of them differ in opinion.
As long as an infant is able to break his or her binky habit by the time multiple teeth begin to grow in, there shouldn’t be any reason the pacifier should affect their long-term dental health. This is especially true if a child is reduced to only using it at night or naptimes.
Pacifiers can help with teething and soothing the gums but they should never be dipped in juice as this can cause cavities on baby teeth. Some babies do not need a binky as much as others. If a baby is able to be soothed without one it is best to not force the habit upon a child before attempting soothing in other ways – rocking, feeding, etc.
Unfortunately, many toddlers get into such a habit of using the pacifier that not only will they not stop asking for it, but after a parent finally takes it away, they can develop the habit to suck their thumb. Prolonged habits of thumb-sucking can eventually cause misalignment as teeth are growing in. If the thumb-sucking continues, it could call for the need for braces later on.
#1 Take it Away Early
Reportedly, some parents have taken a pacifier away as young as 3 months old, suggesting that it is much easier to stop the habit of a newborn than a toddler. Other parents recommend simply limiting it at around 3-6 months old, strictly to bedtime and naptime. Of course many would make exceptions to this – long car rides or airplane trips – but it is believed by many that the younger, the better. Weaning the pacifier does not always work for older children and can cause confusion and arguing.
#2 Make It Defective
One of the ways to stop a child from wanting their pacifier is to “break” it. It is never recommended to cut the tip of a binky with a scissors, as small pieces off it can break off and pose a choking hazard. However, by simply taking a thumbtack or needle and poking a small hole at the tip, air will freely pass through. This will cause the child to think it is broken as it will no longer satisfy the sucking reflex.
#3 Use them to “Buy” Something Else
If there is something your child desperately wants, be it a new toy or a pet goldfish, explain to them that it can only be purchased by the Binky Bank. Help them gather up all the pacifiers in your home and put them in a container to be offered in exchange for the item. As they physically donate to the Binky Bank they will be reminded that there are no more pacifiers in the house and they will better understand prioritizing by giving up something they want for something they want more.
#4 Set a Time & Stick to It
Whatever you as a parent personally decide is the right time for you and your child, schedule a date that they will no longer use the pacifier. You could use a memorable day that could indicate a milestone for your child – for example, their 3rd birthday, followed by a statement such as “big girls/big boys don’t need binkies!” Up until that time remind them of the day they will no longer be able to use their pacifier. This will give them time to accept it and process through it, as giving up the habit cold turkey can be very difficult for some children. Once you have made a decision, do not change your mind! There may be a few times after this day that they will ask for their binky again, but remind them of the time they became a big kid and stand your ground.
#5 Give it Away
Similar to the Binky Bank, but instead with a giving mentality. If your child is old enough to understand the concept, explain to your child that there are children younger than them who need their pacifiers, and that they are too old to keep theirs. As you encourage them to press toward the decision of giving them away it may be helpful if there is a younger cousin or neighbor toddler to use as an example. Round up all the pacifiers in your home with your toddler and leave them for the “Binky Fairy” at night who hands them out to new babies being born. If it is around the holiday season, make the suggestion of leaving them for Santa Claus.
School is almost out! That means that kids will be spending a lot more time eating at home or out on vacation with family. A lot of times this season can get us off our regular schedules and sometimes even our crucial daily habits! It can also bring about more opportunities to indulge in tasty summertime favorites that can cool us off, but contain a LOT of sugar- ice cream, slushies, popsicles, etc!
Luckily, there are ways to satisfy your little one’s sweet tooth without taking a chance of cavities and without the “sugar crash” later. The best way to eat sweets AND take care of your teeth and body is to eat fruit!
The best time of year to eat fruit? Summer! Warmer weather makes seasonal fruit (pineapple, watermelon, mango, etc) more readily available and ripe to consumers, allowing you and your family to expand your options.
***Please take note that the saying “too much of a good thing” still applies here! While fruits are most likely the least harmful sweet treat they can still be overdone!
A classic favorite, with endless variations. Set aside fruit you want to use for smoothies and store them in the freezer. For whole fruits, such as mangoes, pineapples, bananas, etc, make sure you peel the skin and chop them up before freezing! As for berries, make sure they have been cleared of stems and leaves.
First, choose fruits that are complimentary. Strawberries and blueberries go well with almost anything, as do bananas. Try to avoid mixing all citrus fruits (too acidic), or all tart fruits (too sour).
Next, pick your base. The juice inside the fruit is not enough, otherwise your smoothie will be too thick! For a creamy flavor, use coconut, almond, or regular milk. For an added citrus flavor, use orange juice. Add water for the purest taste. If it is still too tart, add a tablespoon of honey to your mix.
Finally, make sure that the base you have picked fills up the blender enough to just barely cover the top of the fruit before blending. This will ensure the smoothie will not be too thick or watery. Blend and enjoy!
A new trend – fun and very pretty! Boil sticky or sushi rice (1 cup rice to 1 ¼ cups water). Then, mix 1 ¼ cup coconut milk, and add ¼ cup sugar (this is the only added sugar in the recipe, and you may use less if desired).
On a sushi mat, spread out the rice flat into a square, covering the mat. Cut desired fruit into thin, lengthy strips. Roll tightly, chop into pieces, and viola!
If a sushi mat is not something you have at have at home, you can try a variation of Fruishi that looks like sashimi. Roll balls of sticky or sushi rice into ovals, and thinly slice fruit to lay on top. It looks so fancy and the kids will love the taste.
3. Fruit Kabobs
Easy, simple, and relatively self-explanatory. Use berries and chop fruit into bite-sized pieces and stick onto a wooden or plastic kabob. This can be fun for kids because they can create patterns of fruit and add however much they want of each fruit onto the skewer.
For more visual appeal check out this caterpillar grape kabob. They’re cute, and its something kids can create as well!
Using red and/or green grapes, spear each grape on its short side. For eyes, use miniature chocolate chips and attach with very small amounts of vanilla frosting. For easy placement, simply dip the flat edge of the chocolate chip into the frosting before sticking it to the end grape.
You will need: a popsicle mold, popsicle sticks (optional), 2 kiwis, 1 cup of chopped watermelon, 1 cup of chopped mango, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of chopped strawberries, and 1 cup raspberries.
In small food processor, use the “puree” setting for each portion of fruit. Be sure to rinse between uses.
Next, take only 1 cup of pureed fruit and fill the bottoms of a popsicle mold in equal portions. Freeze overnight or until solid. Then, repeat using different fruits. For the second layer, remember to add a wooden popsicle stick (some molds come with reusable ones too so this step may not be necessary.)
Keep adding layers and freezing until full. Once the last layer is added and solid, remove from the freezer and dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for an easier release of the popsicle. Remove and enjoy!
Is your baby teething? Pediatricians have stated that infants typically feel their very first tooth emerge anywhere between 4-8 months, the average being around 7 months. There are many symptoms for teething, but luckily can be easily remedied!
While some symptoms of teething are very common, such as slight temperature, crankiness, biting, loss of appetite, and drooling, some babies can even develope a facial rash, begin to nightwalk (as teething can cause restlessness), rub their ears, and appear to have bruising under the gums. According to the magazine What To Expect, these are nothing to be worried about, and can be a sure sign that a little one is going to get their first tooth soon.
How to Soothe Your Infant During Teething
Teething rings, gum rubbing, or any kind of chewing is called counter-pressure, and can help gently break down gums so the tooth can break through. As a parent, it is encouraged to massage the place on your baby where the teeth are coming in and to use foods like popsicles or frozen fruits during this time – not only does it help the child to chew more, but the cold temperature can relieve those areas of sensitivity.
Infant Tylenol or Acetaminophen can be effective when extreme discomfort occurs, but do not use before consulting your pediatrician.
Whatever the old wives’ tales say, do NOT dip your child’s pacifier in whiskey! Even the smallest amount can sedate the baby which can be very dangerous.
How to Care for Baby Teeth
Infant teeth may be temporary, but they can still decay and rot like adult teeth can! Between the ages of 1-3 years old a child will grow 20 teeth. After that, most children won’t lose their baby teeth for quite a few years, which means they need to be cared for to last. Once an infant’s first teeth have emerged, begin gently brushing and flossing their teeth at least once a day until they are old enough to brush on their own. This will help condition them to establish good dental hygiene habits – a daily practice that will last a lifetime. Dentists recommend using tap water with infants as it contains fluoride. It is not recommended to use fluoride toothpaste until age 2 because too much of it can lead to brown and white spots appearing on teeth.
Make sure your child does not fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup full of juice or milk as it can also be damaging if it sits in their mouth for hours at a time (plaque buildup which can lead to cavities).
Be sure take your child to their first dental exam by age 1 (we recommend the Kidd’s Place!) Twice yearly teeth cleanings are highly recommended by all dentists for children and adults alike.
Your child’s dental health has a direct relation to his/her general health, especially in the early years. Hence, the American Dental Association recognizes the specialty of Pediatric dentistry which is dedicated to looking after children’s oral health from infancy until adolescence, usually up to 18 years of age. Dentists who specialize in children’s dentistry are classified as Pedodontists, though they are more commonly called Pediatric dentists, to keep things simple.
Why Should You Take Your Child to a Pediatric Dentist?
Despite the well-meaning effort of parents in looking after their child’s teeth, cavities and erosion can still occur and may not visible to the untrained eye in most cases. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that parents take their children to a pediatric dentist within 6 months of eruption of first baby tooth, and no later than the first year. It is never too late to see a dentist, but making the first visit within 6 months to 1 year decreases the chances of developing early cavities and increases the probability for a positive association with the dentist, which can be scary to youngsters! A Pediatric dentist’s office is ready with equipment, usually further specialized for children, such as dental x-rays and exposing solutions that can detect small cavities in the beginning stages, then manage it accordingly by removing it and restoring with a suitable filling material. Similarly, your pediatric dentist can recognize any future tendency of misalignment in your child’s teeth, and can initiate early management by alongside an orthodontist.
Pediatric Dentist or Family Dentist?
Why is it important that your child sees a Pediatric Dentist? They are specially trained exclusively in the anatomy, growth, and developmental problems associated with children. Pediatric dentists take two to three years of additional specialty training specifically for infants, children, teens, and children with special needs. There is a lot to know! Children are not like adults who know and understand why a stranger’s hands are in their mouth. Pediatric dentists know how to talk to and handle small children who are uncomfortable and insecure about having their teeth touched. Offices are also decorated more elaborately along with the equipment to help your child feel as comfortable as possible, compared to a general or family dentistry office. Often, these offices will also have TV’s or pictures placed on the ceiling above the chair and headphones available to listen to audiobooks or music. Pretty fancy!
What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?
The primary role of a Pediatric dentist is not only to care for, but also educate parents and children on how to care for their teeth! They monitor your child’s oral growth, teach your child the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene, and the necessary brushing and flossing habits for lifelong tooth and gum health. Frequent checkups by a Pediatric dentist will help greatly in prevention, early diagnosis and management of those dreaded cavities, before they become a big problem. Similarly, toddlers and adolescent children frequently experience dental injuries while playing outdoors, such as tooth avulsion, loosening and soft tissue injuries, all of which are managed by a Pediatric dentist. Emergencies are never planned and can’t be foreseen!
In addition, a Pediatric dentist can also help parents create a preventative diet plan for their child that not only provides them with all the required nutritional components, but also reduces the incidence of caries. Similarly, they can recommend and prescribe fluoride or other necessary supplements to enhance development and health of your child’s teeth.
A Final Word
Not only is it important to have your child under the care of a pediatric dentist, but it’s even more imperative that parents are educated about the health and proper care for their child’s teeth to ensure a healthy check-up. Working together, children can have happy, healthy smiles for a lifetime to come. If you haven’t scheduled your child’s first appointment, or they are due for a follow up, call today! Happy brushing!
Asthma and What it Means for Oral Health
Asthma affects around 1 of 10 children, and those numbers seem to be climbing in recent years. Patients with asthma taking medications have an increased risk of cavities, bad breath, and gum problems since they tend to be mouth breathers. Medications such as corticosteroids can reduce saliva flow, causing a dry mouth which further causes the bad breath. Since saliva has a cleansing effect in the mouth, ashtmatic children can then be more susceptible to cavities. If thorough and consistent care isn’t taken, this could then lead to gum disease. With this, it is important to remain under routine dental care and regular visits if your child has asthma and requires medication. Dental care does stay relatively the same, depending on the severity of your child’s condition and their triggers for asthmatic attacks. Asthma is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, based partially on the regularity and intensity of symptoms during daytime, exercise resistance, and symptoms during night-time.The goal in managing a patient with asthma is to prevent an acute asthmatic episode during the routine cleanings or other dental procedures such as fillings. When you visit the dentist, be sure to let the hygienists and the dentist know about current medications, changes in the doses or frequency, and your child’s triggers for attacks.
We know that dental visits should start at the first eruption of a baby tooth. Cultivating a positive relationship with your child’s dentist is not only vital for every child, but especially those with asthma since anxiety of others is a common cause for asthma episodes. Studies have proven that the most important factor in overcoming dental anxiety is good dentist-patient communication. So, how can you help your child overcome and work through anxiety?
- Schedule the appointment for the morning, while they are alert but still relaxed and before any events of the day might cause stress. If your child seems more relaxed in the afternoon, by all means schedule for the time that is most comfortable and accommodating for you and your child.
- Give yourself ample time for the appointment, don’t schedule on a day you might be rushed.
- Give your child a higher protein breakfast which has a calming effect. Avoid sugary foods such as cereal and pancakes with syrup.
- If your child needs asthma medication prior to the appointment, encourage them to drink some water to minimize the effect of it on their teeth. This would also be a good routine practice.
- Bring your child’s inhaler to the appointment in the event your child has an attack. Better to have it and not need it!
- Bring earplugs if excessive noise might be a problem and your child is comfortable with them. We also have head phones in our office for noise
- Distractions. Our staff is well trained in keeping children distracted from the procedure. If you have something your child would be well distracted with such as a stuffed animal or picture, bring it with you!
- Encourage your child to take deep breaths if this is okay for them or as much as they are able. Have them breath with you.
- Listen to some fun music they like in the car on the way to the appointment.
- Reassure your child that the dentist help their teeth stay strong and healthy!
In preparation for your appointment and to keep your child’s thoughts positive about dental care, also try to avoid conversations with others who fear the dentist or who had bad experiences with the dentist. Keep positive reinforcement going and let your child form their own opinion about visiting the dentist according to their own experience. Along with preparing your child for their visit to the dentist, we ask that you would prepare the dentists and hygienists as well! Of course, depending on the severity of your child’s asthma, be prepared with the following information:
- First, let your dentist know about the asthma prior to the appointment and upon arrival. Include information about when they were diagnosed and the severity of it
- Give your child water to drink before the appointment to help cleanse their mouth.
- Tell your dentist about medications they are currently taking and how often, how much
- Explain how you handle asthma attacks and your child’s common triggers and the time of the last attack.
- Explain your oral care routine of your child’s teeth
- Keep the office updated about medication changes or condition changes so that care can be altered accordingly
Tips on caring for your child’s teeth
Between appointments, there are some tips we have for you to maintain your child’s oral health and some things to keep in mind. Depending on the kind of medication your child needs to manage asthma symptoms, it is very important to give your child water immediately after taking the medication. The mouth is the fist to have contact with medication and that is the reason for the higher risk of dental complications. Water will reduce the amount of medication that sits on the teeth and will have the cleansing effect that might be missing from decreased saliva production.
Brushing teeth regularly is a must as some dry powder inhalants contain some sugar in order to make the medication tolerable. We know that sugar is quite destructive to the enamel and the surface of the tooth, so frequent brushing is needed. Also, depending on the frequency of medication, it might be advised to have your child brush three times daily.
While dental care may not be too different for children with asthma as it is for those who do not, it is a condition that your dentist will need to know about in detail in order to reduce the likelihood of an attack during routine visits. Keeping your dentist updated about your child’s physical well being and emotional state regarding the dental chair will further help us to help you and keep those smiles bright!
Losing baby teeth
As parents and caretakers, we often experience just as much discomfort as our little ones do when it comes to teething. From long nights of frequent wakings for teething gel, to a freezer full of popsicles to sooth the gum inflammation, we are more than happy to see that last tooth pop through their little gums! But, after all that hard work, those pesky teeth then begin to fall out. Just when you think you have this tooth-sprouting business done with, you hear, “my tooth is loose!” and it’s a whole new game!
Those words represent another big milestone in your child’s life. Baby teeth have to fall out to make way for permanent teeth to grow; this process can last six or more years from start to finish. Most kids are probably excited to feel their loose, wiggly tooth, and some may worry and wonder if it will hurt. Every child is unique and will react in either fashion. Your response should be as unique as theirs: reassuring them that this is a normal, necessary process, and even showing excitement for them.
First things first
Your child’s 20 baby teeth, which typically come in by age 3, usually fall out in the order in which they came in. On average, kids begin losing teeth at age 5 or 6, but some can lose the first tooth as early as 4 or as late as 7. Since the lower center teeth (lower central incisors) are usually the first to erupt, that means they are usually the first to go as well. The top center pair is next. The middle teeth are usually the first to go (at 6 to 7 years), followed by the ones on either side (at 7 to 8 years). The molars can be lost at any time after that, but will likely be gone between 9 and 12 years. Typically, the teeth will not loosen until the permanent tooth begins to push its way through. These permanent teeth have been growing beneath the gums for some time and eventually dissolve the root of the baby tooth in its path, making it loose.
Think of it like this: the younger the child was when the teeth came in, the earlier they fall out.
It is possible, however, for kids to lose a baby tooth too early, before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, due to an accident or dental disease. Sometimes a pediatric dentist will put a spacer (a custom-fit plastic placeholder) in the place where a baby tooth fell out too soon until the adult tooth is ready, in order to prevent future spacing problems. If your child begins to lose teeth before 4, you should consult a dentist to make sure there’s no underlying disease.
On the contrary, it is also possible for a child to reach 7 or 8 without losing any baby teeth. In such cases, there’s probably nothing wrong, but it’s a good idea to consult a dentist for X-rays to assess the situation. During the preschool years or shortly after the age of 4, prior to losing their baby teeth, your child’s jaw and facial bones grow to create space between the primary teeth for your child’s permanent, adult teeth to come in. In all, your child will have 28 permanent teeth by the age of 12, sometimes later which is also normal. The remaining four “wisdom teeth” arrive between 17 and 25 years of age.
What to do
So your child has approached you declaring that they have a loose tooth. During these years in your child’s life, his grin will slowly start start to transform, but in the meantime, it will be full of permanent teeth and baby teeth alike. What can you do, and what should you do to help your child through such a loss as this?
- Encourage your child to gently wiggle a their loose tooth. Some loose teeth can actually be rotated because the root underneath has almost completely disintegrated.
- Remind your child not to yank a tooth before it’s ready to fall out on its own because it makes the broken root more vulnerable to infection. No tying-a-string-to-a-doorknob tricks, please! A loose tooth that refuses to come out may need to be pulled by a dentist, though this is hardly ever necessary.
- Just allow nature to take its course! It shouldn’t take much effort, and there should be very little bleeding. Focus on making sure your child is brushing well at the gum line; often the tooth will come out easily during regular teeth brushing.
- Losing baby teeth is seldom as painful a process as teething. If your 5- or 6-year-old complains of pain in the back of his mouth, it’s probably the 6-year molars coming in. (He has no baby teeth there to fall out first). A topical painkiller, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can ease the ache, though it’s unlikely to last long.
- Make it fun! Play the tooth fairy and give your child some quarters for their teeth. Make a pillow or use an envelope to keep them safe!
The new arrivals
The new teeth may look bigger, especially those first few. That’s because they are! Adult teeth also tend to be less white than baby teeth and have pronounced ridges because they haven’t been used yet for biting and chewing. Sometimes, but not often, a couple of new teeth come in before the old ones are gone, creating two rows of pearly whites. This is a temporary stage, sometimes called shark’s teeth. Keep an eye on your child’s progress and if you are concerned, talk to their dentist. Brushing is now more important than ever. You’ll probably need to supervise the process until your child is around 8, and until then he won’t need to use more than a pea-sized dot of toothpaste. Some doctors recommend using toothpaste without fluoride until the child can spit, if tap water contains enough fluoride. Replace toothbrushes every two or three months to reduce harmful bacteria and keep them working at their best. And make sure your child sees a dentist twice a year. As your child wiggles those teeth away, take pictures of all the awkward smiles, and sing, “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!”
Wish-Wash: Mouthwash for Kids
We all appreciate having a delightful conversation with someone who has fresh minty breath. After all, no one wants to get a whiff of what was on the lunch menu or take a step back from the conversation for a breath of fresh air. Mouthwash is a wonderful product for oral hygiene that can give us confidence in everything we say… really! But when you walk through the store to pick up a new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste for your family, have you noticed the colorful bottles and great looking flavors of mouthwash that glisten with all the shiny packaging? Perhaps you use mouthwash yourself, so what about your child? Its difficult not to notice how fun the children’s oral care products look, but is mouthwash a necessity? Read on to learn about mouthwash and the importance it can have in your child’s oral health.
Benefits Of Mouthwash
Mouthwash helps remove plaque from teeth, kill bacteria, and protect the gums against gingivitis. Some rinses also contain fluoride for strengthening tooth enamel, which helps protect against cavities and tooth decay. The most notable benefit of mouthwash is that it makes your breath smell fresh by removing odor-causing bacteria and masking other bad smells. While mouthwash may give your child’s mouth an extra clean touch, dentists say it is no substitute for regular, thorough brushing and flossing.
When Children Can Use It
Unlike flossing, which should begin as soon as two teeth surface side-by-side, mouthwash can be the last oral care product you add to your child’s regimen. According to the American Dental Association, children under the age of 6 should not use mouthwash because they usually cannot keep from swallowing it. Swallowing mouthwash poses health hazards to young children, especially if they swallow an adult mouthwash containing alcohol or a fluoridated mouthwash, which can give them more than the recommended amount of fluoride and a belly ache. For children over 6, it is OK to start teaching them to use mouthwash, under adult supervision. Make sure to use only rinses designed for children, since they don’t contain alcohol and are less harmful if your child accidentally swallows some of it. Every child is different and may not be ready for mouthwash until later. A good way to test their ability is to fill a small cup with some water, have them rinse, then spit back into the cup. If they are able to spit all the water back into the cup, they are ready for mouthwash! When you chose to introduce your child to mouthwash, discuss it at their next dental visit and start with a dentist recommended mouthwash.
Choosing a Mouthwash
As you have probably discovered, the store shelves carry quite a variety of colorful kids mouthwash in different brands. You may find choosing one to be just as difficult as getting your child to actually brush and floss their teeth! Keep in mind that you may need to try a few to find the one your child will like and it is important to pick a mouthwash that suits your child’s needs. Some kid’s mouthwashes are designed to combat bad breath while others prevent the buildup of plaque. Still, some will both combat bad breath and kill bacteria. Before considering a fluoridated mouthwash, determine how much fluoride your child is receiving in their toothpaste, dental treatments, food, and water supply. Too much fluoride can be harmful, but if needed and/or recommended by your dentist, it can help to protect your child’s tooth enamel. It is best to avoid all mouthwash containing any alcohol since it can be a health hazard if swallowed and it is likely that children may swallow some. Kids mouthwashes are specially designed for the possibility of swallowing and are your safest, recommended choice. They come in may fun flavors such as bubble gum and cherry that kids love and creates a more enjoyable experience for them. Talk to your dentist about recommendations for what your child should use.
As parents, we do these things to protect and care for our own teeth because we hope to keep them around for a long time, and maintain a beautiful smile! But if your child’s teeth will eventually fall out, no matter how well they’re protected, do we have to go to such great lengths to care for them? The simple answer is yes; a child’s teeth and gums are just as vulnerable to decay and disease as your own teeth. Brushing and flossing are of the most vital oral hygiene practices, and mouthwash can be beneficial too! The choice is yours whether or not you decide to incorporate mouthwash into your child’s tooth care regimen. Until then, happy brushing!
Between the Lines: Flossing for Children
Kids aren’t usually a fan of sticking things between their teeth that isn’t candy or some other sweet treat, but, when it comes to flossing, developing a daily habit is vital in their oral health. Flossing is an important step in removing all the food particles from teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach, reducing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Studies have discovered that 30-35% of all cavities in children occur between the teeth, particularly the baby molar teeth. While you may be wondering how you could possibly get your child to start flossing, we would like to fill you in on the basics of flossing your child’s teeth and how you can introduce it into their daily routine and make it a positive experience.
When Should My Child begin Flossing?
For starters, children need to have their teeth before they can begin to floss. Once they’ve got the hang of brushing, teaching them how to floss is an important follow-up. When you introduce your child to brushing and flossing, they should be assisted by a parent or adult until the age of 4-5 years old, then supervised by an adult until they are 8-10 years old. Studies show that children are not coordinated well enough to brush and floss their own teeth until they can successfully tie their own shoe, which usually falls at the same age of 8-10 years old. Every child, however, is different and these numbers can vary. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that flossing should begin when the teeth begin to touch, typically between 2 and 2½ years of age. Some children may only need a few back teeth ﬂossed while others may need ﬂossing between each tooth, depending on the amount of spacing between teeth.
How Do I Floss My Child’s Teeth?
As important as daily flossing is, it is even more important to floss correctly. Flossing should be done once a day, preferably after dinner with the evening brushing, this way, all the food particles from the day are removed. You will need to floss your child’s teeth until they are capable of doing a thorough job on their own. Here are some steps to follow for flossing your child’s teeth:
- Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers. Most of it should be wrapped around the middle fingers of both hands.
- Use your thumbs and forefingers to lightly hold and guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.
- Use a back and forth motion to guide the floss between their teeth
- Tightly hold the floss and curve it into a C-shape against one tooth and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth, until you feel resistance.
- Gently scrape the floss down toward the tongue against the side to the tooth.
- Repeat this process for each and every tooth.
The sooner your child becomes aquatinted to consistently flossing their teeth, the more likely they will make and keep the habit. Flossing takes little time, especially when your child doesn’t have all of their teeth yet. Something to remember while you help your child floss is to be gentle. Children may still have periods of teething at 2-3 years old and may get fussy with brushing and flossing their tiny teeth. Another precaution is for children with loose primary teeth, be gentle and careful not to floss too deeply on the gum line around a loose tooth since it may already be tender. Floss the tooth beside it very gently and do not put any pressure against the tooth, to avoid bleeding or injury to the gum. Even though primary (baby) teeth eventually fall out, it is important to brush and floss them to create good oral hygiene habits for your kids and prevent conditions like gum disease and decay from setting in.
Introducing Your Child to Floss: Making it Fun
Just as children are fun, playful, and imaginative, so must parents be when it comes time to introduce them to the necessary tasks of life! Here are some tips for you to keep in mind when introducing your little one to flossing:
- Sing! Sometimes toddlers will try to sing along or smile so big they cannot help but open their mouth.
- Let them play with the floss string to get aquatinted with it, but be careful they do not wrap it around themselves.
- Brush and floss with them!
- Make animal sounds or “roar”
- Use a flossing “chart” and have them mark the days with favorite stickers
- Motivate them with a prize at the end of the week for good flossing
- Play a “good vs. evil” game involving the evil bacteria and the hero, floss! The best part is they get to be the hero!
- Teach your child to count by their teeth, while you floss!
- Use flossing tools such as floss sticks which come in colorful assortments, to make it easier for kids just learning to floss on their own.
Flossing doesn’t have to be a battle. Sometimes, however, children can put up a fuss and need to be reminded that their teeth need to be cleaned. If you’re into the tooth fairy, try telling them the tooth fairy gives extra change for clean teeth! While your child is learning to care for their teeth, remember that the best way they learn is by example! So
get between the lines and happy flossing!
The trick to Maintaining Healthy Teeth
This time of year, trees begin to turn to lush, fall colors and every October many parents and families begin to prepare for another favorite children’s holiday: Halloween, what a treat! Whether you walk door to door with your Children or attend school harvest parties, the excitement of dressing up and collecting piles of free candy is quite a fun ordeal. But, what kind of trick is being played? As fun as Halloween may be, it also presents parents with some health and safety challenges.
The American Dental Association has prepared some suggestions to help you maintain good oral health for your children around the Halloween holiday and throughout the year, and we’re going to share our own spin!
It is ideal if Halloween candy and other sugary foods are consumed with meals, rather than snacks. As you sit down for dinner with your family, you can allow your child to have a few pieces of candy following their dinner, as a dessert. More Saliva is produced with meals than snacks, helping to rinse food particles from the mouth and neutralize plaque acid. For example, slowly snacking on Halloween candy every few hours, day after day, keeps teeth bathed in cavity‐producing acid, which leads to cavities. When a few candy bars are eaten at once, acid builds up in the mouth, but saliva will neutralize this acid over the course of an hour or so and then the acid is gone. But if one candy bar is eaten every half hour, acid is constantly being produced and it overwhelms the amount of saliva that can wash it away.
Consider chewing sugarless gum after meals, as accepted by the American Dental Association. Certain sugarless gums have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance for scientifically proving that chewing the gum for 20 minutes after meals helped prevent tooth decay. Some of these gums include: Wrigey’s Orbit for Kids Sugar Free gum and Dentyne Ice Sugarfree Gum.
Avoid hard, sticky candies that linger in your child’s mouth which subjects teeth to prolonged acid attack, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Examples of these include: Jolly Ranchers and suckers. The stickier candies, like taffy, tootsie rolls, and gummy bears, take longer for saliva to wash away. These candies adhere to teeth longer than something like soft chocolate, which easily washes away with saliva or rinsing. Limiting the time these candies spend in your child’s mouth or avoiding them altogether is a good step in reducing tooth decay.
Drinking more water helps reduce the amount of food and bacteria that sits on your child’s teeth. Take a bottle of water with you when your trick-or-treat and encourage them to drink.
Consuming optimally fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, check the label for the fluoride content.
Encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day with an American Dental Association-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Replace toothbrushes every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth or your child’s. Flossing daily also helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line. Decay-causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Good habits for oral hygiene are most successfully established by your own example.
Though candy during the Halloween season is a classic favorite among children, another option would be to switch out candy for non‐sugar treats. Find inexpensive alternatives such as: small bags of pretzels; stickers and temporary tattoos; mini‐cans of play dough; toothbrushes; pencils and erasers; plastic decoder rings; and bouncing balls. You can create a trading game with the children when they return from trick or treating, where they hand over candy in exchange for these types of non‐candy items that you provide them. You can also trade hard, sticky candies for these items or simply exchange for soft chocolate candy that will not linger in their mouth and increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay.
Halloween is a special time for children to dress up as fun characters and collect their favorite treats. With these ideas, you can make this time exciting for your child and less challenging to their oral health! Let these tricks keep your Halloween a treat!
Pacifier Use and The Effect on Oral Development
If you have a fussy baby, a pacifier can help calm and soothe. Whether it is by fingers, thumb, or pacifier, sucking is a natural and normal need for babies. However, dental experts warn that once your child reaches the preschool years, a pacifier can become a habit that obstructs the development of healthy teeth.
During the first year of your childs life, pacifiers can provide some great benefits. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, offering pacifiers to infants one month and older at the onset of sleep reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Sucking is a means for babies to soothe themselves and pacifiers provide a way for them to self-soothe and satisfy the need to suck that may exceed the time they get on the bottle or breast. Studies also show, and it is said by The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, that it is easier to wean from a pacifier than baby’s own thumb.
So what about my child’s teeth? What kind of effect will a pacifier have as they grow?
While pacifiers can have a magical touch with your fussy baby, here are a few issues to watch for when using a pacifier.
The American Academy of Family Physicians informs that pacifiers are especially beneficial in the first six months of life, but beyond that first year, potential complications of pacifier use can occur. The primary concern for pacifier use is associated with, but is not limited to, dental malocclusion, or misaligned teeth. Prolonged pacifier use can cause changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth, prevent proper growth of the mouth and create problems with tooth alignment. It is agreed that frequent and prolonged sucking can cause problems if the habit continues after your baby’s teeth start to fall out. Studies prove that pacifier use after three years of age results in a higher incidence of malocclusion. Recent studies, according to American Family Physician, confirm the negative dental effects with pacifier use after two years of age.
In addition to moving and shifting teeth, the Academy of General Dentistry reports that pacifier users are more likely to suffer from middle ear infections. As a result of altered dental structure, many studies show that ear infections are more likely to occur in children with frequent or prolonged pacifier use.
So what can you do to minimize your child’s risk of poor dental development or misaligned teeth?
It is important to keep in mind that pacifier use is a parents’ personal decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends offering a pacifier at naptime or bedtime until age one. However, the risks of pacifier use begin to outweigh the benefits as your baby gets older. While most kids stop using pacifiers on their own between ages 2 and 4, others need help from physicians and parents in breaking the habit.
For younger infants, Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend delaying pacifier use until breast-feeding is established, about 4-6 weeks. Swaddling, rocking, singing, playing soft music and infant massage can be effective alternatives to pacifier use.
For older infants and toddlers: activities, toys or other objects of affection, such as a blanket with satin edging, might help distract your child from his or her desire for the pacifier.
For Toddlers and older children: Consider holding a special ceremony to bury or discard the pacifier. You can also allow your child to trade in his or her pacifier for a special book or toy. It is our desire to help you and your child by providing information that promotes awareness of the potential impact of prolonged pacifier use on your child’s teeth.