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Posts for tag: development

We hear it all the time. Do baby teeth even matter?


Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! Baby teeth matter and we are going to tell you exactly why these little teeth are so important.


Your child’s primary teeth, often called their baby teeth, play a major role in their growth and development. We aren’t just talking about their oral health, here. We are talking about their overall, full-body, lifelong development and health.


Nutrition:


Baby teeth help your child eat and chew. They allow your child to eat a more balanced and varied diet, enabling them to receive the proper nutrition they need to grow and develop, both physically and mentally. Without teeth, the child cannot eat all solid foods and will not be able to break it down sufficiently for the body to absorb all the nutrients.


Speech:


Your child’s baby teeth aren’t just for cuteness. They actually help your child’s speech. The teeth play an important role in speech development and aiding the child in learning to form certain letter sounds. The tongue, lips and cheeks deflect off teeth when forming sounds. When teeth are not there, they cannot assist in the formation of the correct pronunciation of sounds, possibly leading to speech impediments.


Smile:


Who doesn’t love seeing a baby smile with just two front teeth? Those small little teeth are actually paving the way for your child’s permanent smile. Baby teeth take up space in the mouth and act as space holders in the jaw bone for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, or has to be removed because of decay, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty spaces, making it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can lead to more crooked teeth and more costly orthodontic treatment later on.


Facial Development:


The tooth structure provides support for the child’s developing facial muscles, giving shape to your child’s face.


Focus and Attention:


A child in pain cannot focus on learning, playing and exploring the world. Dental pain from a decaying tooth can interfere with their ability to pay attention in school, can cause them to miss more school, and can affect their academic performance and grades.


Self-Esteem:


Decayed teeth can greatly affect a child’s self-esteem as it affects their social interactions with peers at school or in other social settings. A child that is embarrassed by their teeth may be hesitant to speak and engage with peers, may not want to smile and may have a harder time interacting with others. This can all lead to less confidence and lower self-esteem.


Check out this video from the ADA on why baby teeth are so important: Watch Video


As parents, it’s our job to help our children be happy and successful. Taking care of their baby teeth is an important part of helping them thrive! So, what can you do to care for your child’s primary teeth?

  1. Teach your child to develop good oral health care habits with their primary (baby) teeth. These early habits will help them keep those permanent teeth healthy for life!
  2. Limit juice and sugary drinks. Make water the beverage of choice.
  3. Do not put anything other than milk or water in a bottle.
  4. For infants, begin cleaning their mouth during the first few days after birth. Wipe gums with a clean, moist washcloth. Decay can occur as soon as teeth erupt, so start taking care of baby teeth as soon as you see them!
  5. For young children, start brushing teeth as soon as they come into the mouth. Brush twice a day, using a small amount of toothpaste- about the size of a grain of rice.
  6. As children get older, you should continue to supervise brushing, using a fluoride toothpaste and reminding them not to swallow toothpaste.
  7. As soon as two of the teeth begin to touch, you should begin cleaning between the teeth daily, using floss.
  8. Continue to supervise your child’s brushing until they can effectively brush alone, usually around 7-8 years old.
  9. Begin seeing a pediatric dentist before your child’s first birthday. Ideally, you should see your pediatric dentist for a check-up as soon as the first tooth arrives so that they can monitor the development, check for any problems and educate you on proper oral hygiene for your child.


If you are looking for a pediatric dental home for your infant, toddler or child, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is here for you. As your local Anderson, SC pediatric dentist, we strive to offer our patients and their parents the best quality pediatric dental care in a safe and loving environment. We offer sealants, x-rays, laser dentistry, lip-tie and tongue-tie treatments, as well as emergency dental care and special needs dentistry. Give us a call at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!

Is thumbsucking really that bad? Sure, it’s a bit annoying to look over and see your child walking around, playing or even sleeping with his thumb stuck in his mouth, but is it that big of a deal?

The truth is Yes. While thumbsucking may offer some calming benefits to your child when he or she is stressed, tired or upset, the long-term damage it can do to their mouth and oral development is pretty significant. And while it’s a hard habit to break- after all, you can’t really take away their thumb- it’s necessary to intervene and try to kick this habit at an early age. While many believe that this habit won’t impact a child’s teeth until they start getting their permanent teeth, the truth is that thumbsucking can have an impact on a child’s mouth, jaw and language development as early as 2 to 4 years of age.

Sucking puts pressure on the sides of the upper jaw, as well as the soft tissue on the roof of the child’s mouth. This can cause the upper jaw to narrow, in turn causing the teeth not to meet properly on top and bottom. Thumbsucking can also cause an open-bite and/or crossbite, which can both lead to chewing and speech problems. While most issues can be fixed with orthodontics, it’s a costly and timely process that can be lessened by breaking the thumbsucking habit.

What can you do to help your child break the habit?

Start early. Thumbsucking generally begins as a soothing mechanism. At an early age, it’s important to start giving your child alternative ways to soothe and cope with anxiety. Offering a favorite toy or blanket in place of their thumb when he or she is upset or tired. Sometimes singing or humming can occupy them and keep their mouth busy. Also, finding an activity to keep their hands busy, such as a fidget cube or other hand-held activity that will require them to use their thumb, rather than keep it in their mouth.

There are different theories on how to get your child to stop sucking his or her thumb. As your Anderson kids dentist, we recommend encouraging the behavior to stop through positive reinforcement and child-led progress, rather than forcefully preventing the behavior or shaming the child. While it’s tempting to rip your child’s hand away from his or her mouth every time that you see them sucking their thumb, it’s important to remember that this is a soothing mechanism and creating anxiety around the behavior will only increase your child’s need to self-soothe. In the end, most children do eventually stop sucking their thumbs. However, we also know that the earlier you bring awareness to the issue and begin providing alternative coping mechanisms, the better off your child’s smile will be.

According to family psychologist, Jenn Berman, in the WebMD article listed below, there are several ways to positively encourage your child to stop sucking his or her thumb. Anderson Pediatric Dentistry encourages you to try to break the habit early and provide your child with alternative soothing strategies that won’t damage their teeth or create expensive orthodontic problems down the road.

1.  Try to limit the time that your child sucks on his/her thumb to the bedroom or in the house. Explain that this is a nap or sleeping activity.

2.  Don’t make it confrontational. Instead, find times when your child is coping without thumbsucking and praise him or her. Focus on the positive reinforcement.

3.  Talk to your child about thumbsucking and the damage it can cause and explain why you want them to stop and keep their smile beautiful. Empower your child to make the decision.

4.   Practice self-awareness with your child. When you see him sucking his thumb, ask him if he is aware that he is doing it. Most children do not realize that they are sucking their thumbs as often as they are.

5.  For older children that are having a harder time breaking the habit, especially when it’s used less for self-soothing, and more because it’s just a deeply ingrained habit, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry does recommend using a thumb-guard to physically prevent the child from sucking his or her thumb. These devices not only prevents further thumbsucking, but helps draw awareness to the issue. Your child is able to have a gentle reminder each time that he or she tries to put his or her thumb in his mouth.

Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is your neighborhood, kids dentist. We know that raising happy, healthy and confident kids is hard work. And we want to help. Whether it’s breaking bad habits, routine cleanings, x-rays, sealants or treatment planning, we are your Anderson, SC kids dentist! If you are looking for a dental home for your child, we welcome you. Call our office to day at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!
 

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/9-ways-to-wean-a-child-off-thumb-sucking#2

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/infant-kids/does-my-child-need-a-thumb-sucking-guard-0215

 

What’s small and plastic, can soothe a baby, or cause an end-of-the world meltdown- all in the same day?

If you guessed pacifier, you are right! No matter what you call it- paci, dumdum, binky… 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 did it in our home. I still remember each car ride starting with the question, “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. Our two youngest children loved their pacifiers and would happily walk around 24 hours a day with one stuck in their mouths. Pacifiers were lifesavers on long car rides, during the night and other times when they needed soothing. But, as your Anderson pediatric dentist, I am all too-familiar with the damage that these little lifesavers can cause to a child’s smile if not taken away in a timely manner, and I want to offer you support and encouragement as you embark on the challenge.

 

Why use a pacifier at all? There are mixed opinions about introducing a pacifier to young infants and whether it should 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. As a pediatric dentist in Anderson, our 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 labeled 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- and parent. While a child that is 3 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 2 or 3 years old, 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 decided to ditch the paci for our youngest daughter when she was 18-months old. While she didn’t totally agree, we felt like she was ready. She rarely used it for sucking and we only gave it to her for sleeping and car rides. Our plan of action was to gradually reduce her exposure to it, only allowing it in the crib at nap and bedtime. We started bringing her stuffed bunny that she sleeps with in the car so that she still had a comfort item with her as we took the pacifier away.

 

So, with our daughter, we gradually reduced 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. Each child is different and each situation will be different. Only a parent can truly know what is best for their child.

 

Like anything with children, there are a million ideas, a million 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 simply want to help you and your child succeed by providing the resources and information you need. Our goal is to be more than the best Anderson pediatric dentist. We want to be your neighborhood dentist, go-to resource and teammate in the journey of raising happy and healthy children with beautiful smiles!

 

If you are a current patient and your child is battling the binky or has recently given up his or her pacifier, we want to know! We want to celebrate this accomplishment with them because it’s definitely Something to Smile About!

 

If you are looking for a dental home for your child, we welcome you! Call us today at 864-760-1440 to see how Anderson Pediatric Dentistry can give you and your child Something to Smile About!

 

X-rays are a highly beneficial tool in the world of dentistry. An x-ray can help to diagnose tooth decay, gum disease and infections that may not be visible on the surface of the tooth. X-rays help monitor growth and development and allow the pediatric dentist to see potential problems before the tooth erupts. They also help screen for bone loss or pathology that may not be visible or currently be symptomatic. Without an x-ray, many of these problems could go undiagnosed. By using an x-ray as a reference, your dentist will be better equipped to prepare tooth implants, dentures, braces, and other similar treatments.  

 

However, like many things in life, there are drawbacks to dental x-rays, as well. Exposure to radiation can be harmful to humans, as it damages cells. Pediatric dentists and parents are, therefore, wise to know the truth about the radiation from x-rays and balance the benefits with any possible drawbacks.  

 

Anderson Pediatric Dentistry adheres to the ALARA principle. ALARA stands for "as low as reasonably achievable". This principle means that we strive to expose our patients to as little radiation as possible, using as few x-rays procedures as we can, while still providing the best patient care. We also follow th recommended practive guidelines to reduce exposure when performing x-rays. To do this, we use three basic protective measures in radiation safety: time, distance, and shielding. By usinf the following techniques, we are able to limit radiation exposure to our patients:  

 

·        Use of the fastest image receptor (the fastest film speed or digital speed) 

·        Reduction in the size of the x-ray beam to the size of the image receptor whenever possible 

·        Use of proper exposure and processing techniques 

·        Use of leaded aprons and, whenever possible, thyroid collars 

 

While x-rays do expose individuals to radiation, it’s important to remember that we are all exposed to certain levels of radiation in our everyday life. Eating a banana, living in a brick home and even watching television expose you relatively small levels of radiation each day. As pediatric dentists, we weigh the benefits of treating dental issues with the potential harm. A routine exam, which includes 4 bitewings is about 0.005 mSv. This amount is less than one day of natural background radiation and about the same amount of radiation exposure one would receive from a short airplane flight of 1-2 hours. (www.xrayrisk.com/faq.php). Using digital X-Rays, as we do at Anderson Pediatric Dentistry, significantly reduces this amount to be even less. 

 

There are ways for parents and dentists to help minimize the need for x-rays. Request a visual exam be done prior to consenting to x-rays. If you have current x-rays from a previous dentist, make sure to transfer these to your current dentist to eliminate the need for repeat x-rays. While dental x-rays are considered extremely safe, and often essential, it’s important to understand the procedures and any potential exposure to radiation so that you can be sure that the benefits outweigh the inherent risks.

 

If you have questions or concerns, never hesitate to discuss the need for x-rays with your pediatric dentist so that you can best care for and protect your child’s dental and overall health. 

Anderson Pediatric Dentistry strives to be your go-to resource for pediatric dental health. If you are looking for a dental home for your child, we welcome you to call our office today at 864-760-1440. Let us give you Something to Smile About! 

 

When our children are infants, their baby teeth are a BIG deal. We spend hours consoling them as they drool and gnaw on their hands during the teething process. We mark the date of their first tooth’s arrival in their baby books. We get just as excited as they do the first time they get to put their tooth under their pillow and eagerly await the tooth fairy.

So, why then, do many people feel like baby teeth aren’t as important as permanent teeth? The answer is right in that one word- permanent. Because we know that our “big” teeth are meant to last for life, we somehow get the idea that our children’s baby teeth, that we know they will lose at some point, must not be that important. After all, they get replaced, right?

Wrong! Baby teeth, despite their small stature and their shorter life span, serve many important roles in your child’s long-term oral health and development.

Promote good nutrition through proper chewing
Just as adult, or permanent, teeth do, the baby teeth serve the important role of biting, gnashing and chewing our food so that our bodies can readily digest the nutrients. Missing or painful baby teeth can make the child hesitant to eat certain foods which can cause them to lose out on much-needed nutrients.

Serve as space holders for the permanent teeth and provide a path for permanent teeth to follow when they are ready to erupt
Baby teeth are essentially a road map for the permanent teeth to follow, and when removed prematurely, before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, it can cause long-term problems, even changing the structure of the child’s jaw bone and face. The permanent teeth may come in improperly, or possibly not at all, and your child could require orthodontic treatment to correct the problem.

Build self-esteem by providing a beautiful smile
Children naturally love to smile and find joy in the world. Beautiful baby teeth help them to do so. Even a young child can begin to feel self-conscious of missing or decayed teeth.

Enable the child to pay attention and learn in school without the distraction of dental pain.
It’s simple. Healthy teeth don’t hurt. In fact, kids don’t even think about their teeth when they are healthy. However, decayed teeth can cause a lot of pain! This pain can prevent them from getting adequate sleep, interrupt their day, and be distractive, preventing your child from excelling at school.

So, while it’s tempting to skip brushing your young child’s teeth when life gets busy, remember these small teeth play a BIG role in your child’s oral health and development. And remember, the care and importance that you give to their baby teeth will influence how they take care of their teeth on their own.

Taking care of your young child’s teeth can be simple. Follow these rules and help your child’s smile shine bright.

1)     Start brushing as soon as your child gets his or her first tooth. Brush twice a day, even if it’s just for a short amount of time.

2)     Floss any teeth that touch.

3)     Limit sugary drinks, even juice.

4)     Don’t go to bed with any drinks other than water.

5)     Model good oral health by taking care of your own teeth! Kids learn by watching their parents.

6)     Schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist within six months of the arrival of their first tooth, or by their one-year old     birthday. Early prevention and monitoring, as well as education about good oral health, will help prevent problems.

 

As always, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wants to be your go-to resource for helping to educate parents and children alike, and giving all children the beautiful smiles that they deserve. If you are looking for a dental home for your child, give us a call at 864-760-1440, and let us give you Something to Smile About!