Posts for tag: pediatric
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!
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!
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.
Don’t Drink in the Bed! - All About Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when bacteria on the teeth, created from sugars in foods and beverages in the diet, form an acid that damages the tooth enamel. This acidic damage can lead to cavities and even infection and pain in your child.
Baby bottle tooth decay, or bottle mouth, gets it name from the prevalence of young children that suffer from cavities and decay primarily on their front top teeth, usually caused by going to sleep with a bottle or constantly drinking sugary beverages from a bottle. As the infant or child sucks the milk, juice, soda, etc., from a bottle, sugar sits on the front teeth, and bacteria use this sugar to form the acid that attacks the enamel.
If detected early, your pediatric dentist can apply a fluoride varnish to the affected areas to stop further damage. However, once the enamel has been severely damaged, and brown spots and cavities are visible, more restorative treatment will be needed.
Contrary to what many believe, baby teeth do matter. You don’t want your infant or young child to lose their teeth prematurely due to cavities. Baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent teeth. When lost prematurely, the spacing of the permanent teeth can be affected, possibly leading to misaligned permanent teeth and the need for more extensive orthodontic treatment. Young children that lose their baby teeth prematurely may also have a more difficult time eating a nutritious diet – and we all know that’s hard enough to do with all their teeth!
Tips for Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay:
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing anything but water. (Even milk, formula and breast milk contain sugar that will cause the bacteria to create the acid that sits on the teeth and erodes the enamel.)
- Introduce a sippy cup to your child by 6 months old and try to ditch the bottle by 1 year old.
- Limit acidic foods in your child’s diet, especially juices.
- Brush your child’s teeth before bed or wipe your infant’s gums. Removing any sugar from the surface will help prevent bacteria from eating away at the enamel all night.
*Once you have brushed your child’s teeth before bed, only offer water to drink. If your child has a snack or drinks anything other than water, be sure to brush again!
As always, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is here to help you with any questions you may have! Our dedicated team can help you come up with strategies for eliminating bedtime bottles and for preventing and treating tooth decay in your young children.
Why Does My Kid Have Bad Breath?
Does your child seem to have a case of morning breath - all day? While not pleasant, most cases of bad breath in children can be easily resolved.
Halitosis is the medical term for chronic bad breath. In adults, Halitosis, or chronic bad breath that never goes away, despite brushing and rinsing, can be an indicator of an underlying medical problem. In children, more often than not, bad breath is usually just an indicator of poor oral hygiene, which can be remedied at home and almost immediately.
As a pediatric dentist, the most important advice I can give is also the easiest thing to do: work to improve oral hygiene and be consistent. You have to brush, absolutely must floss, and brush your tongue. You have to do these things every day.
Below are some surefire ways to help eliminate your kid’s bad breath:
Floss - If you ever doubt the need for flossing, try smelling the used floss after flossing your teeth. It sounds gross, right? Well, if your floss stinks, so does your mouth.
Don’t’ Forget the Tongue - Brushing your child’s tongue will also help prevent bad breath. The tongue harbors lots of bacteria, but many people neglect to brush it when they are brushing their teeth. With so much surface area, it can definitely cause a foul smell in your kid’s mouth.
Stay Hydrated- Saliva is a key component to fighting tooth decay in the mouth. When a kid’s mouth is constantly dry, their mouths have less saliva to wash away odor-causing bacteria. A lack of saliva can also lead to tooth decay and cavities. Encourage your child to drink water all the time, and especially when playing sports or outside.
Diet – A diet high in sugar will contribute to bad breath in your kid’s mouth. Sugar left on the teeth is a breeding ground for bacteria, which will produce a foul smell in the mouth.
When it’s more than bad breath:
If brushing, flossing and good diet aren’t helping your kid’s bad breath go away, or if you suspect that your kid’s bad breath is something more, do not hesitate to see your pediatric dentist and rule out other issues. Remember, these preventative measures can help prevent dental problems and bad breath, but that can’t solve existing decay or gum disease.
If your child has existing cavities or gum disease, treatment is the first step. Once existing problems are treated, these preventative measures can then help to prevent future dental problems.
As always, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is always here to answer your questions, discuss treatment options and give you and your child Something to Smile About!
If you would like to schedule an appointment or discuss options, please call us at 864-760-1440.