Posts for: June, 2018
Battle of the Binkie
Paci, pappy, binky, dummy, soother, nuk nuk. No matter what you call it, these little bits of plastic and silicone have a way of running our lives. How many of you have turned the car around to go get the baby’s pacifier? Have you ever had to leave a store or dinner because you didn’t have one? Do you keep multiple backups in each room of your home? I’ll admit it. We do it at my home. When we get in the car, the first thing my wife and I ask each other is, “Did you get a paci?”
Yes, these little lifesavers have a way of taking over. And while they can be useful, developmentally appropriate, and valuable to many babies, there comes a time when we, as parents, have to take control back. We have to help our children develop alternate ways of soothing themselves and alternate coping mechanisms that don’t involve “plugging” them up when they get fussy or loud.
It’s not an easy task. Believe me. I know. I am about to embark on the dreadful few days of adjustment myself. You see, my youngest daughter is about to be 18 months old. This arbitrary age is the age that we agreed to lose the paci. Now that the day is looming just a week away, I have to admit that I am having second thoughts! Because we are preparing for the worst possible few days of adjustment, I figured it was a good time to cover this topic, share some educational information and possibly, get some tips from our families about how they have successfully battled the binkie.
Why use a pacifier at all? There are mixed opinions about introducing a pacifier to young infants and whether it should even be done at all. Some babies refuse to even take one. However, there are some beneficial reasons for allowing your baby to have a pacifier. Most recognized is its soothing effect. Babies naturally use their sucking mechanism to self-soothe. A pacifier can offer a non-nutritive means of self-soothing, rather than always offering a bottle or breast. Pacifiers have also been linked to lower risk for SIDS. And, of course, pacifiers are used for the obvious reason- to pacify a crying baby. For many, pacifiers are a psychological security for the child.
Can pacifiers cause permanent problems? This answer is somewhat complicated because it really boils down to the age of the child using it, and the frequency and intensity. The general recommendation is that you need to limit a pacifier’s use after age 1 and try to be rid of it completely by age 3. By age 4, pacifiers can cause an overbite, open bite, cross bite and narrowed palate- even those labled as orthodontic-friendly. These problems can all negatively impact the child’s oral development, can cause problems with chewing, speech and appearance and can require orthodontics to correct.
The simple answer is that the earlier you get rid of the pacifier, the better, and easier it will be for the child. While a child that is three years old may be able to reason better and have a clearer understanding of what is happening, often a younger child will be able to move on quicker, with less of a fight. Also, by the time the child is two or three, you have other issues coming into play, such as potty training, preschool, etc., that may make it more difficult to take away their primary soothing mechanism. Ultimately, it will be up to you as the parent to decide when your child is ready to pass on the paci. The good news is that even limiting the frequency of use can help prevent some of the oral developmental problems listed above. If your child isn’t ready to totally give it up, we recommend limiting its use and not allowing your child to keep a pacifier in his or her mouth all day long.
If you are ready to lose the pacifier for good, here are a few tips that have helped parents successfully win in the battle of the binky.
- Start gradually. Limit the pacifier to bedtime and only allow your child to have it in his or her crib or bed.
- For children that are closer to 3, have a discussion with your child and explain that it’s time to get rid of the pacifier. You can reason with them and explain why the pacifier needs to go. Offer to replace it with something for “big kids.”
- Replace the pacifier with a lovey or stuffed animal that your child can carry with them, sleep with and hold in the car. Anywhere the pacifier was previously used, the lovey or animal can go.
- Read books about it with your child.
- Refuse to buy more. When the last one is gone, they are gone.
- If you are feeling creative, use a pacifier fairy, to come pick up the pacifiers one night and leave a prize in their place. Pinterest has tons of great ideas about this topic. We even saw one about taking your older child to Build-a-Bear and letting them stuff all their pacifiers inside a bear so that they can feel like they still have them close by, but they get a new stuffed animal to soothe with instead.
- Patience. Some children really do use the pacifier to soothe themselves, even at the age of 2. Be mindful that if your child is still truly soothing himself with the pacifier, taking it away abruptly may lead to other unwanted habits, such as thumb sucking. In these cases, it may be better to limit the time with the pacifier and begin introducing alternative soothing mechanisms before taking the pacifier away.
On a personal note, my wife and I have decided that our 18-month old is ready to ditch the paci. Yes, we will be going through the Battle of the Binky, too! While our daughter may not agree, she rarely uses it for sucking and only has it on car rides and in her crib. Our plan of action will be to only allow it in her crib at nap and bedtime. We will begin bringing her favorite bunny that she sleeps with in the car so that she has something to soothe herself with. Once she can get through the days without a paci, we will start putting her down for naps and bedtime without it, too.
So, with our daughter, we are gradually reducing her time with her pacifier. But, each child is different. With our son, around 18 months, we felt like his speech wasn’t progressing because he always walked around with his pacifier in his mouth. My wife decided after his 18-month pediatric visit, to take it away cold turkey. Of course, we had one in case it didn’t go well. But the amazing thing was, he never once cried for it or asked for it. All of our hesitation and fear was for nothing. (I realize this is rare, which is why we plan to slowly remove it from my daughter.)
Like anything with children, there are a million ideas, a millions ways to do it and a million people to tell you what you should do and how they would do it. When and how you take away your child’s pacifier is a personal decision. By the age of 3, many children will lose interest in the pacifier and almost all children that still have one, will not be using it to actively suck. Like anything, it becomes a habit. Anderson Pediatric Dentistry doesn’t want to make your parenting decisions. We want to help provide you with the information and tools you need to succeed.
If you are a current patient and your child is battling the binky or has recently given up his or her paci, we want to know! We want to celebrate this accomplishment with them because it’s definitely Something to Smile About!
Most everyone knows that going to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings can help save your smile — but did you ever stop to think that it just might save your life?
That's what recently happened to 11-year-old Journee Woodard of Edmond, Oklahoma. The young girl was having a routine teeth cleaning when hygienist Rachel Stroble noticed something unusual: The whites of her eyes (her sclera) had a distinctly yellow tint. Dr. Michael Chandler, Journee’s dentist, confirmed the hygienist’s suspicions, and advised her mom to take her for further testing. The tests revealed that Journee had a tumor covering parts of her pancreas, gallbladder and liver; it could have ruptured at any moment, with devastating consequences.
The tumor was removed three days later in a 9-hour operation, and Journee is now recovering. As for her dentist, Dr. Chandler told reporters that he and his staff were just doing their jobs thoroughly. “It's hard to feel like I’m a hero,” he said (though others might disagree).
Is this a one-in-a-million case? Maybe — yet for many people, a family dentist may be the health care professional who is seen more often than any other. That can put dentists in the unique position of being able to closely monitor not only a person’s oral health, but also their overall health.
There are several reasons why that’s so. One is that most systemic diseases (such as diabetes, leukemia, and heart disease, for example) can have oral manifestations — that is, symptoms that show up in the mouth. If your dentist notices something unusual, further testing may be recommended. Dentists also regularly screen for diseases specific to the mouth — such as oral cancer, which has a much better chance of being cured when it is caught at an early stage.
But beyond checking for particular diseases, dentists often notice other things that may indicate a health issue. For example, if you complain of dry mouth or snoring, and appear fatigued in the dental chair, your dentist may suspect undiagnosed sleep apnea: a potentially serious condition. Many other signs — such as yellowed eyes, a pounding heart rate, or shortness of breath — can indicate potential problems.
Of course, we’re not even mentioning the main reason for regular dental checkups — keeping your smile healthy and bright; for many people that’s reason enough. How does Journee’s mom feel about keeping dental appointments? “I will never miss another dentist appointment,” she told reporters. “I will never reschedule.”
If you would like more information about routine dental checkups, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Dental Hygiene Visit” and “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade are made for replenishing lost electrolytes, glucose and sodium after strenuous activity. They are refreshing, taste good and seem like a good choice for active, hot kids and adults, alike. These drinks are sold everywhere and consumed by the masses, many times, not even during athletic activity.
The problem is that these drinks were originally designed for carbohydrate replacement for athletes and for use in strenuous activity, which most people are not doing on a regular basis. In fact, these drinks are often consumed by people in a sedentary setting. They are loaded in sugar- lots of sugar. A 12 ounce serving can have 21 grams of sugar, and most people drink more than 12 ounces! Considering that the American Heart Association recommends that adult women get no more than 25grams of added sugar and adult men get no more than 36 grams, that’s almost a full days worth of the recommended amount of added sugar for women, and more than half the recommended amount for men, all in one serving of a sports drink! And we all know that most people will drink the full bottle, not just one serving.
Very few adults, much less kids, are participating in any activity that requires replenishing the body’s sodium and glucose. In most situations, water is the best choice. With no calories and no sugar, it allows the body to use exercise to burn energy, rather than replace a little bit of caloric loss with huge amounts of sugar and empty calories.
There are times when these sports drinks are appropriate, and possibly beneficial. A report from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that those engaging in less than 60-90 minutes of exercise are better off sticking to water. For those taking part in prolonged, vigorous physical activities for more than one hour, and especially in hot temperatures when electrolyte imbalance and dehydration are a concern, a sports drink may be better than water. (https://www.issuelab.org/resources/18583/18583)
The use of sports drinks, as well as other sugary energy drinks, when not engaged in strenuous activity, can have negative effects. Aside from the sugar contributing to tooth decay, the additional calories may also contribute to weight gain when the calories consumed in these high-sugar drinks are not being expended during the physical activity.
When in doubt, choose water. It’s better for your teeth and better for your body! Stick to drinking sports drinks only during strenuous, prolonged activity, and be aware of the total sugar in your diet.
Proactive dental care is an essential part of childhood growth. But that care can be much harder for children with chronic health issues than for healthier children.
“Chronic condition” is an umbrella term for any permanent and ongoing health issue. Asthma, Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis, congenital heart defects and many others fall under this umbrella, with varying symptoms and degrees of intensity. But they all have one common characteristic — a long-term effect on all aspects of a child’s health.
That includes the health of a child’s teeth and gums. Here, then, are a few areas where a chronic health condition could impact dental care and treatment.
Ineffective oral hygiene. Some chronic conditions like autism or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that affect behavior or cognitive skills can decrease a child’s ability or willingness to brush or floss; some conditions may also limit their physical ability to perform these tasks. Parents and caregivers may need to seek out tailored training for their child’s needs, or assist them on a regular basis.
Developmental defects. Children with chronic conditions are also more likely to have other developmental problems. For example, a child with Down, Treacher-Collins or Turner syndromes mayÂ be more likely to develop a birth defect called enamel hypoplasia in which not enough tooth enamel develops. Children with this defect must be monitored more closely and frequently for tooth decay.
Special diets and medications. A child with a chronic condition may need to eat different foods at different times as part of their treatment. But different dietary patterns like nutritional shakes or more frequent feedings to boost caloric intake can increase risk for tooth decay. Likewise, children on certain medications may develop lower saliva flow, leading to higher chance of disease. You’ll need to be more alert to the signs of tooth decay if your child is on such a diet or on certain medications, and they may need to see the dentist more often.
While many chronic conditions raise the risk of dental disease, that outcome isn’t inevitable. Working with your dentist and remaining vigilant with good hygiene practices, your special needs child can develop and maintain healthy teeth and gums.
If you would like more information on dental care for children with chronic health conditions, 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 “Managing Tooth Decay in Children with Chronic Diseases.”
Summer is upon us. That means ice cream, popsicles and cold drinks. For some, even the thought of ice cream touching their teeth is enough to send them over the edge. That’s because they are experiencing the symptoms of sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth are usually a sign of an underlying dental issue, such as tooth decay, fractured teeth, worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel or an exposed tooth root.
Our teeth are protected by enamel, which forms a barrier and defense against hot, cold, sour and acidic foods. Under the gum line, the tooth root is protected by a thin layer called cementum. Under both the enamel and cementum is a layer called dentin. The dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains small hollow canals.
When the enamel or cementum of a tooth is worn down, the dentin loses its protective covering. The hollow canals in the dentin allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. The result can be hypersensitivity.
Enamel can become weaker with age, a diet high in sugar or acidity and a history of acid reflux disease. Receding gums, which are typically a side-effect of gum disease or gingivitis, can also expose dentin and lead to sensitivity.
Tooth hypersensitivity is almost always a sign of a broader dental health concern. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to live with sensitive teeth forever. Sensitive teeth can be treated. Depending on what is causing your sensitivity, your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:
- Desensitizing toothpaste
Toothpaste made for sensitive teeth contains potassium nitrate, an ingredient that, according to the ADA, helps to "depolarize" nerve endings in the teeth.
- Fluoride gel
Applied in-office, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
May be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
- Root canal
If sensitivity is severe and persistent and does not respond to other treatment options, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.
As with all dental issues, proper oral hygiene and a healthy diet are key. If your child is experiencing dental pain from sensitive teeth, or you have questions or concerns, we would love to help. Contact Anderson Pediatric Dentistry today at 864-760-1440.