Posts for tag: kids teeth
It’s a common conversation in a pediatric dentist’s office. “I don’t know what to do. My whole family has bad teeth.” Or, “I just don’t understand, we brush twice a day, everyday and she doesn’t drink soda. How can she have cavities?”
So, if the children that are receiving proper dental care are getting cavities, as well as the ones that aren’t brushing and flossing, we have to ask: Is there a such thing as bad teeth? Soft enamel?
Can your child’s, and your very own, dental problems be blamed on genetics, rather than poor dental hygiene? And if so, is this the ultimate excuse or are there ways to avoid these so-called, “bad teeth?”
In recent years, medical progress is being made on so many levels. Genetics are being studied on all levels to see just what role our genes play in our overall health and what we can do to overcome any genetic shortcomings. Because our dental health is so closely tied to our overall health and well-being (remember how dental disease and inflammation is linked to heart disease?), it makes complete sense that scientists are also studying the link between genetics and dental health.
So, is dental health genetic? The answer is yes. . . and no. Sometimes? It’s complicated. While scientists are finding genetic factors that affect some aspects of oral health, they are also confirming many environmental factors that play key roles in dental health- factors we can control.
Tooth decay, Bacteria and Sugar
Sugar in the food we eat feeds communities of hundreds of different types of bacteria that live on our teeth. The acid produced by these bacteria erodes the hard, outer layer of our teeth (the enamel) to cause cavities (tooth decay).
These bacteria in our mouth, the ones that cause tooth decay, aren’t present at birth. We normally acquire them shortly after birth, probably from other family members- think kisses on the mouth, pacifiers, teething items. Recent studies have been able to pinpoint which groups of bacteria are responsible for damaging our teeth. And it turns out that it’s not the genetic (inheritable) bacteria that are causing the tooth decay.
Want to take a stab at what types of bacteria can form cavities? You guessed it! The ones influenced by environmental factors like sugary foods! In fact, sugary drinks may be the very worst for your teeth! They are particularly adept at spreading sugar to every corner of your mouth, feeding the bacteria that cause decay. The good news is that the same types of bacteria in sugary foods that can form cavities, can also be brushed off your teeth!
But the story isn’t that simple.
While tooth decay is largely preventable, some people are more at risk of it than others. And genetics do play a role. Genes can affect how teeth develop and if teeth do not form properly, their enamel can actually be less resistant to bacteria. Genes can also affect whether your teeth will come in crooked or straight. Teeth that are crooked and overcrowded provide more areas for bacteria to hide and grow in, as they are more difficult to completely clean. Brushing and flossing become even more important in these situations, as a constant presence of these bacteria can cause cavities to form.
The color of your teeth is another area that is determined by both genetic and environmental factors. The way in which the white enamel (and the underlying yellow dentine) forms during development is mainly due to our genes. Those whose teeth develop naturally with thinner enamel will have teeth that appear more yellow. Environmental factors that affect the teeth can be broken up into intrinsic factors (those that affect the teeth as they are developing) and extrinsic (those affecting the tooth after it develops). Intrinsic factors could include exposure to antibiotic tetracycline in the womb or excess fluoride as a child. Extrinsic factors affecting tooth color would be drinking coffee or tea and smoking.
So, tooth color, like tooth health, can be affected by both genetics and environmental. And while we can’t control the genetic factors, we can make changes to the environmental factors.
The message is still the same. Your teeth may be inherited, but bad oral health habits do not have to be. Everyone needs to take care of their teeth. Some people may have to work a little harder than others. But we can all take simple steps to ensure proper oral health. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, brush your teeth and have regular check-ups.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry can help you take care of your child’s smile. Give us a call today at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!
There’s nothing sweeter than a sleeping child. The peaceful look of contentment, the gentle breathing, a small smile as they enjoy a happy dream – it all seems perfect. Until you hear it. A loud grinding and gnashing noise that comes from their small mouth? What is that? And is it as bad as it sounds?
Bruxism- What Is It?
Bruxism is the medical term from grinding, gnashing or clenching your teeth. For children, it’s more common for these behaviors to be displayed during sleep, rather than while they are awake. Sleep Bruxism is actually considered a sleep-related movement disorder. The disorder is also called nocturnal bruxism, nocturnal tooth-grinding and nocturnal tooth-clenching.
While bruxism in children is fairly common, the exact cause of sleep bruxism is unknown. It has been linked to improperly aligned teeth or irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, stress, anxiety, a response to pain, such as an earache or teething and other medical conditions.
Because most children display these behaviors only when sleeping, it’s nearly impossible for them to know that they do it. You will need to observe your child while he or she sleeps. Symptoms that your child is suffering from sleep bruxism include:
- Abnormal wear of the teeth
- Sounds associated with bruxism (Think loud chomping and grinding noises in their mouth!)
- Jaw muscle discomfort
- Complaining of headaches
- Tooth sensitivity
Impact of Bruxism on Child’s Health:
Most children will outgrow bruxism, and sometimes, it may go totally undetected. However, even if they don’t complain of jaw pain or other symptoms, bruxism can still have negative effects on your child’s teeth and general health. The grinding and gnashing can cause headaches and earaches. Over time, it can also wear down the tooth enamel, chip teeth and cause temperature sensitivity. Children that exhibit more severe bruxism may even have TMJ problems.
What Can You Do?
While there may not be a lot you can do to stop your child from clenching or grinding in their sleep, there are ways you can help lessen the frequency and intensity of incidences. If stress or anxiety is the cause of the bruxism, encourage your child to relax before bedtime with warm baths, soothing music, relaxing books and stories. Try to identify the areas causing stress and anxiety and help your child through it.
If you think your child is grinding his or her teeth, schedule a visit with your pediatric dentist, who will examine the teeth for chipped enamel and unusual wear and tear. They may spray air and water on the teeth to check for unusual sensitivity. In severe cases, your pediatric dentist may recommend a nighttime mouth guard for your child to wear while he or she sleeps. Since most children won’t be excited to keep this in their mouth, it’s not likely that your pediatric dentist would recommend this for very young children. For young children, relieving stress and anxiety, encouraging relaxation at bedtime and monitoring damage are the best options. Eliminating afternoon caffeine and turning electronics off two hours before bedtime may also help them sleep better.
If you are looking for a dental home for your child, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry would love to be your trusted partner in your child’s oral health. Call us 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!
Halloween can be so much fun! It’s an event that seems to start at the beginning of the month and just keeps going. Between picking out costumes, carving pumpkins, attending trunk or treat and other Halloween events, Halloween night is often just one of many celebrations. And while it’s fun for kids and parents alike to get dressed up and have fun, the constant influx of candy and sugar can leave us with some not so wanted “treats.”
Calories. As much as we wish they didn’t count, the truth is, they do. The average child will consume 3,500-7,000 calories on Halloween! You read it right. 7,000 calories is the same at 13 Big Macs!
Now, take this amount and think about how many calories your child will consume if you allow the candy binge to go on for days or weeks! It’s not just their teeth that will be affected. This onslaught of sugar and calories will affect your child’s blood sugar, behavior, weight and overall feelings of well-being. That is definitely not a fun trick or treat!
Candy. It’s all about the candy! We know. We get it. We remember being little and competing to see who could fill up a pillowcase of candy. But, let’s be honest. Who needs a pillowcase of candy? Most of the time, half the candy collected is candy your child doesn’t even like. So, why hang on to it and tempt them to eat it? Besides, there are so many better things to do with your candy than eat it!
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wants to share some insights and tips for how your family can make Halloween more about the fun and less about the candy.
- Make trick-or-treating about the actual event and the fun of the night, not about the candy.
- Immediately sort the candy and pull out sticky, sour or gummy treats. Chocolate candies melt off the teeth easier and won’t cling to the teeth as long. Go ahead and get rid of all the stuff your child doesn’t like so they aren’t tempted to eat it just because it’s there!
- Allow your child to enjoy their candy for a day or two, and then trash it, or consider donating it or participating in a candy buy-back so that your child can trade their sugar for cash!
- Recycle. If the thought of throwing away bags of candy leaves you feeling wasteful, consider ways to recycle the candy and use it for fun activities other than eating.
Check out Pinterest and other sites for great candy crafts and science experiments. With names like “the incredible growing gummy worm” and the “density rainbow,” kids will engage their minds and learn, all while using up their candy.
- Focus on the fun, not the candy. Make the emphasis on dressing up, painting faces, carving pumpkins and other pre-Halloween events so that candy is just a small part of the whole evening.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wishes everyone a fun and safe Halloween, full of fun, good times and lots of healthy smiles!
A pediatric dentist advising you to give your child dark chocolate instead of the ever-popular fish-shaped crackers? It sounds crazy, right? Well, this post is the "Eat this, not that" for your teeth. And I will explain why. Just keep reading.
More and more, we are seeing the connection between diet and nutrition and overall health. As one might guess, this applies to your oral health, too. In fact, simple changes in your child’s diet may be the answer to keeping cavities away.
Cavities are caused when cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth feeds off simple sugars and causes acid plaque. This plaque attacks the enamel of the tooth and causes it to soften and eventually creates holes, or cavities in the tooth.
So, we know that sugar sitting on your teeth is not a good thing. It would make sense to choose foods that we feel are low in sugar. And this does help. But, it turns out, there’s more to it. In fact, it’s not just the amount of sugar that matters when we are trying to avoid cavities. There are actually three factors that impact the way food affects your teeth:
2) Sugar concentration
Stickiness- Not all foods are created equal. Flour seems to be the culprit behind a food’s stickiness. Think about it this way, when you eat an apple or baby carrots, there’s no food clinging to your teeth. When you eat crackers or pretzels, you will have food debris sticking to your teeth. Any food or sugar remaining on the teeth becomes a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.
Sugar concentration- It makes sense that food lower in sugars are better for your teeth (and your body). But, contrary to popular belief, the amount of sugar is not the full story. In fact, it appears that when it comes to dental caries (cavities), it is the sugar concentration more than the actual amount, that actually matters.
This concept is pretty mind-blowing and also pretty important to understand! Basically, when choosing between foods that have the same amount of simple sugars, you can make a better choice for your teeth by choosing the one that also contains fat- or more fat. Why? Dr. Roger Lucas, DDS, explains it well when he says, “When you take away fat, you are indirectly increasing the concentration of sugar.”
Why does the concentration matter? A 2014 in vitro study* that found that whole milk is not acidic enough to demineralize enamel, but skim milk can demineralize enamel. This study confirmed that it is the concentration of sugars in the foods we choose, more than the amount of sugar, that contributes to dental caries.
By taking the fat out of a food, you are raising the sugar concentration. Fat doesn’t cause cavities. Sugars and starches do. So, you want to pick the food that has the lower sugar concentration, not necessarily the lowest sugar content.
What’s an example of choosing a better snack option? Swap snacks like Goldfish crackers for dark chocolate (at least 70%). This sounds crazy, but when you look at the two snacks, you see that while they have similar sugar content, dark chocolate has a higher fat content, and thus a lower sugar concentration. It also sticks to the teeth less, offers antioxidants, and parents are far less likely to allow their child to walk around eating dark chocolate bars all day long, like we often do with crackers and other easily portable snacks.
Frequency- Each time you eat or drink, the teeth are attacked for about 20 minutes, until the saliva has time to neutralize the acids and wash the bacteria away. Limiting the times this happens throughout the day can decrease the damage done to the teeth. This is especially true when children are snacking on crackers, sticky fruit chews and other common snack foods constantly throughout the day.
Other great options are nuts, cheese, crunchy vegetables and fruits, meats and yogurt. While most fruits anad vegetables have virtually no fat content, they also don't stick to your child's teeth and can be easily washed awayw ith water after eating. Remember, it's a combination fo the stickiness, the sugar content and the frequency of eating that cause cavities.
The truth of it is, diet and nutrition should be your first line of defense for healthy teeth. Brushing, flossing and fluoride should be the second.
Your oral health is not something that has to be left to chance. Good nutrition and good oral healthcare, along with regular checkups with your pediatric dentist, can keep the cavities away! Come let Anderson Pediatric Dentistry give you and your child Something to Smile About!