Posts for tag: Tips
So you looked at your calendar and realized that your child’s next dental appointment is coming up. Now, you are trying to mentally prepare both yourself and your child. How can you help ease your child’s anxiety and make this visit fun? There are lots of ways parents can help prepare their child for a dental visit, and believe it or not, parents can actually have the most influence on how their child will feel about their trip to the dentist.
What can you do to help make your child’s visit a great experience? We have some tips for you below.
~ Talk to your child. Explain to your child what a dentist is and why it’s important to take care of his/her teeth. Let them know what they can expect, such as the dentist looking in their mouth, brushing and flossing and even taking x-rays. Make sure that they know that the dentist is there to help them keep a beautiful smile.
~ Avoid negative words and talk. You may have had a painful toothache or have had extensive work done on your teeth, but try not to talk to your child about negative dental experiences.
~ Prepare with fun dental accessories like character toothbrushes or toothpaste. Kids love seeing their favorite characters, like princesses or cars, on their toothbrushes or toothpaste. If using a Trolls toothbrush makes brushing easier, by all means, use a Trolls toothbrush! Just make sure to choose items that have the ADA seal of approval on them to ensure safe and effective ingredients.
~ Read about the dentist. There are many great children books about visiting the dentist. Seeing their favorite characters successfully visit the dentist can help alleviate a child’s fears about their visit.
~ Watch a show. Again, there are great cartoons that focus on visits to the dentist. We have seen Barenstein Bears, Doc McStuffins, Mister Rogers, Bubble Guppies and several other popular cartoons that focus on visiting the dentist.
~ Encourage. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Always tell your child how proud you are of them and what a big, brave boy/girl they are. New experiences can be scary and anytime they handle it well, we want to offer praise and encouragement.
~ Crafts. Pinterest and the internet are loaded with great dental-themed crafts. Many of these are also educational and can be used to help teach your child about dental health, brushing, flossing, etc. They are great boredom busters, but also, a great way to make dental visits seems less intimidating and more fun. Have your child make a dental craft and bring it in to the office to show the team!
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wants both parents and their children to always feel safe and secure, respected and well cared for. If you have an upcoming visit and your child is experiencing anxiety, we are here to help ease the fear. Our goal is to help children have fun at the dentist. After all, we think we are kind of fun to be around! If you have questions or concerns about an upcoming visit, or would like to schedule your child’s first or next visit, call us at 864-760-1440. Let us give you and your child Something to Smile About!
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!
Tips and Ideas to Stop Thumb Sucking
Thumb sucking develops in young children as a coping mechanism. Like a pacifier, children often suck on their thumbs as a way to self-soothe. While this natural habit can be useful during infancy and in the early toddler years, if it goes on too long, it can cause serious problems in your child’s dental development.
If thumb sucking continues long enough, it can even cause social problems if other kids begin to make fun of the child, anxiety if the child hasn’t developed other ways to self-soothe, and even sickness - just imagine all the germs on your child’s hand being placed directly in their mouth! Yuck.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wants to help you and your child break the habit of thumb sucking. We hope the information and tips below are useful for you and your family.
Why did my child start sucking his/her thumb?
Children find their thumb in the early months of infancy as they explore their body and surroundings. Many babies will experiment with sucking on their fingers and thumbs. Some even prefer their thumb over a pacifier. Like a pacifier, the thumb provides something to suck on, which is how babies naturally self-soothe. Often this soothing habit is used during stressful times, when tired, or during periods of separation from parents or caregivers.
Should I give my baby a pacifier to prevent thumb sucking?
While we know that people have strong feelings about pacifiers and many breast-feeding mothers will need to wait to introduce the pacifier until their nursing routine and milk supply is secure, we do advocate a pacifier over a thumb. Pacifiers do not put as much pressure on the roof the other child’s mouth and will not push the teeth out as easily. But the main reason for choosing pacifier over thumb is that it tends to be an easier habit to break. A pacifier can be “lost” or removed from the child’s daily environment. A thumb will always be available and there to tempt the child.
What age does my child need to stop thumb sucking?
While earlier is better, we recommend all children stop sucking their thumbs by the age of three, as this is when their teeth are in and the damage to their growth can really start to occur. Some children are very aggressive suckers, bruising the roof of their mouth or blistering their thumbs. For these children, a plan to eliminate the habit needs to be put in place much earlier.
How can I prevent my child from starting to thumb suck?
While exploring their hands, fingers and thumbs will be a natural part of infant growth and development; there are ways to prevent them from ever becoming full-blown thumb suckers.
1) Provide the baby with lots of opportunities to suck:
Babies use sucking as a means of attachment and a way to self-soothe. If an alternative means is not provided, they will find something to suck on - like their own thumb. If nursing, you can allow for non-nutritive nursing when baby needs to be comforted, or provide alternative ways for the baby to suck, such as your (clean) finger, a pacifier or collapsed bottle nipple.
Keep your child’s thumbs busy or occupied. If you see your child’s hand heading towards his or her mouth, distract them with something that keeps their hands busy.
3) Talk to Your Child
If your child has reached the age where thumb sucking can harm their teeth (three years), than he/she is old enough to understand. Put your child in front of a mirror and explain how sucking on their thumb can harm their teeth, show pictures of the damage that thumb sucking can cause, and have your pediatric dentist also discuss the possible problems with your child. Sometimes hearing it from someone else will be more effective.
4) Always Be Positive
Do not berate your child for sucking his or her thumb, or resort to calling them a baby or other demeaning terms. Encourage your child and use positive reinforcement. Be sure to find opportunities to praise your child, such as when they handle a new or stressful situation without sucking their thumb.
5) Time Your Discussions and Offer Reminders
Do not allow thumb sucking to become a power struggle. You don’t want to create more stress for the child, which will make him/her want to soothe by thumb sucking even more. You also do not want it to hurt their self-esteem, cause shame or become a habit they try to do in secrecy. Speak to your child about it when he or she is calm and receptive to hearing what you have to say, not after an upsetting event.
6) Offer Physical Reminders
A tongue depressor taped over the thumb to act as a splint, a sock worn over the hand at night or even the bitter tasting liquid that can be painted on the thumb (popular brand name is Mavala), can all serve as physical reminders when the child tries to place thumb in his or her mouth. A thumb guard (T-guard is a popular brand) is also available online and is very effective if used appropriately. We recommend purchasing the thumb guard with the locking straps so the child cannot take the device off on their own.
7) Suggest a Competing Habit
For older children, encourage another activity that keeps their hand busy, such as fidget spinner or cube. If you have a nighttime thumb sucker, suggest the child sleep with his/her hand under the blanket or pillow. For younger children, offer a soothing blanket or animal for the child to pet or stroke to help soothe.
8) Provide a Prize
Whether you call it a bribe or a prize, they work. Offer your child some sort of prize to give him or her incentive to stop thumb sucking. Make it something to get excited about and remind them along the way.
9) Talk to Your Pediatric Dentist
If breaking the habit of thumb sucking seems impossible, we are always here to help. We can speak to your child and show them pictures and visuals. Sometimes, hearing it from their dentist seems a bit more serious to them. We can also discuss the option of using a thumb guard device if your child is having a hard time giving it up.
As always, Anderson pediatric Dentistry is always available to answer your questions and help your child achieve his/her best smile.