Posts for: March, 2018
Philosopher Will Durant wrote, "…We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." While that observation could aptly apply to a great deal of life, it's certainly true of dental health. Strong, healthy teeth and gums are largely the result of good oral habits started in early childhood.
Here are some important dental care habits you'll want to instill in your child, as well as yourself.
Practice and teach daily oral hygiene. Keeping your child's mouth clean helps prevent future dental disease. It should begin before teeth appear by wiping your baby's gums with a clean, wet cloth after every feeding to keep decay-causing bacteria from growing. Once teeth appear, switch to brushing with just a smear of toothpaste until age 2, when you can increase to a pea-sized amount. As your child matures, be sure to teach them to brush and floss for themselves, especially by modeling the behavior for them.
Begin dental visits early. Besides daily hygiene, regular professional dental care is one of the best habits for keeping healthy teeth and gums. Plan to begin your child's dental visits by age 1 when some of their teeth may have already come in. And by beginning early, it's more likely your child will view dental visits as a routine part of life, a habit they'll more likely continue into adulthood.
Keep your oral bacteria to yourself. Many strains of bacteria, especially harmful ones, don't occur spontaneously in a child's mouth. They come from the outside environment, most often from their parents or caregivers. To avoid transmitting disease-causing bacteria from you to your baby don't share eating utensils, don't lick a pacifier to clean it, and avoid kissing infants (whose immune systems are immature) on the mouth.
Encourage your teenager to avoid bad habits. Hopefully when your children reach adolescence, they've already developed good oral habits. But there are some bad habits you should also help your teen avoid. While piercings are a popular expression among this age group, teens should avoid tongue and lip bolts and other piercings that could damage teeth. A tobacco habit can also have negative consequences for dental health including increased decay or gum disease risk and cancer.
If you would like more information on dental care for children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”
Between infancy and the onset of puberty, your child will grow one set of teeth, lose it and grow another; their jaw structure will also change dramatically. This rapid development sets the course for their oral health later in life.
That’s why it’s so important to care for their teeth and gums in these early stages through daily hygiene and regular dental visits for disease prevention and treatment. Hygiene is the cornerstone of this care, and should begin in earnest when your child’s first tooth erupts in the gums, by first gently cleaning around the newly erupted teeth and gums after each feeding with a water-soaked gauze pad.
As they pass their first birthday you can switch to a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and just a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Children should begin learning to brush around age 2, first by modeling you as you brush together. They should be adept enough by age 6 to brush on their own, at which time you can introduce flossing. We’re more than happy to advise you on technique for both of these hygiene tasks.
Age one is also the time for them to begin regular dental visits for cleanings and checkups. This will help us stay ahead of any developing decay or other issues and perform preventive treatments like dental sealants or fluoride applications. It will also help your child become comfortable with the dental office, which can make it easier for them to develop a long-term habit of regular dental care.
There are also habits you should practice (or avoid) that support good oral health for your child. For example, you shouldn’t allow them to sleep with a pacifier or a bottle filled with anything but water. Breast milk and formula contain some forms of sugar that bacteria can feed on; if this becomes too frequent it can result in higher acid levels that soften enamel and lead to decay. You should also take preventive actions to protect your child from teeth-damaging injuries like playing too close to hard furniture.
All these common sense measures support your child’s oral development. You can then let Nature takes its course as your child develops a healthy mouth for a lifetime.
If you would like more information on oral care for children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”
It’s one of those major milestones that we can’t wait to celebrate with our baby. We wait months for it. And then it starts and we can’t wait for it to be over. Yes, I am talking about teething! Whether it’s the first tooth or the eighth, teething can be awful, for both the baby and the parents. From the constant drool to the fussiness and even the lack of sleep, teething can be painful- both physically and emotionally.
While every child is different, most babies will begin cutting their first tooth between 4 to 7 months and will have a full mouth of teeth by 2 to 3 years of age. What does this mean? You guessed it? The teething fun can last for years! The best part is that teething is different for each child, and even for each tooth. Your child might get his first tooth without any symptoms, but cry and drool for days when his molars come in. Or, your baby might drool and fuss for weeks when the first tooth arrives, then have no further discomfort when future teeth arrive.
For my oldest daughter, she screamed and fussed all morning long, then seemed to stop immediately after her first tooth came through. She never had any issues with any of the other teeth. With our son, he drooled nonstop for a month before his first tooth came through. And our youngest daughter wouldn’t eat solid food for nearly two days before her bottom molar came in.
Teething has many symptoms- excessive drooling, fussiness, lack of appetite. There are also some symptoms that many attribute to teething, but there is no medical evidence to support it.
For example, fevers. My wife swears that each of our children had a mild fever when teething. So, did the teething cause the fever or was it just a coincidence- three times? There are mixed opinions on this. Many pediatricians disagree that it’s related to teething and that the fever is probably due to some other infection or illness going on at the same time. Remember, at this age, a baby’s passive immunity due to maternal antibodies wanes and exposure to a wide variety of childhood illnesses occurs, often causing mild fever. Regardless, if your child experiences any fever over 101.4 while teething, you need to visit your pediatrician to make sure there is not an underlying illness causing it.
Diarrhea. While there is no scientific evidence linking loose stools and teething, this too, makes some sense. Many babies tend to have excessive drool when they are teething. For some, this goes on for days and even weeks. Some doctors believe that the excessive amounts of saliva can, in fact, be a factor in your child’s loose stools. However, many infants at this age are also starting solid foods and their diet is changing, which can also lead to diarrhea. In any case, if it seems excessive or if you see any blood in the stools, contact your pediatrician, as this is likely due to something other than teething.
So, what’s a parent to do? How can you save your baby from pain and yourself from losing your sanity? There are many teething-pain relievers that can soothe your baby's sore gums safely. Here are a few worth trying:
Chew Toys- plastic and rubber toys are great for soothing aching gums, especially when chilled. Choose the solid teething toys over the fluid filled ones and do not freeze them, as this can be too hard for baby’s gums.
Cold- Damp washcloths can be twisted and frozen. Tie one end in a knot to give baby something to gnaw on. (This also eliminates any exposure to chemicals in plastic teething toys.)
Massage- A light, gentle rub or massage might give your little one a lot of relief. Remember to wash your hands. Also, babies like to gnaw on your clean fingers, too. Remember, they don’t have teeth yet so it won’t hurt.
Medicine- When your baby is having a really tough time, ask your pediatrician about giving a dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Note: Numbing gels or creams that contain benzocaine are not recommended for infants.
Essential Oils and Natural Remedies- While no scientific evidence exists to support the use of essential oils, many parents stand by their effectiveness and feel comforted by their natural ingredients. Whether using manufactured teething treatments or essential oils, make sure to follow guidelines on dilution and use sparingly. Before six months, stick to lavender and chamomile.
What NOT to do.
There are many tried and true methods for easing teething pain. However, the one thing we advise parents against is putting any type of teething necklace around your child’s neck, including the popular Amber necklaces. Without going too deep into this issue, there is currently no scientific data to support the claims that these necklaces ease teething pain or drooling. The risk of choking and strangulation is far to high to encourage the use of wearing these necklaces. In addition, many parents are purchasing fake necklaces that are not even made from real Baltic Amber. For more information, I encourage you to visit some of the websites listed below to see the research and data.
Remember, teething troubles won’t last forever and it leads to an exciting milestone! When your child has a mouthful of teeth and a beautiful smile, it will all be worth it!