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Posts for tag: speech

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!

Have you ever heard of a baby being born with tongue-tie? Maybe you have. Maybe not. The truth is, most people don’t hear about tongue-tie until their child is born with it. While it may not be talked about often, it can be a big deal.  

Tongue-tie happens when the frenulum, the string of tissue under your baby's tongue, which attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is too short or too tight. When the child’s tongue is tethered to the floor of his or her mouth by an unusually short or thick string of tissue, it can interfere with basic functions. Everyday activities, such as breastfeeding, eating, swallowing, speech and even just sticking out his or her tongue, can be made more difficult or even impossible.

 

Breastfeeding and Tongue-tie

Tongue-tie can make nursing a newborn very painful, and sometimes impossible. Babies who are tongue-tied may have problems latching correctly and/or maintaining the latch. This will cause problems as they over compensate by increasing suction, or chewing on the nipple, causing severe pain for the mother.  An inability to latch correctly will affect the baby’s ability to drain the breast, possibly leading to supply issues. If the baby is not latching and nursing adequately, they may not be receiving adequate nutrition and may experience failure to thrive.

 

Oral Development

Tongue-tie can affect a baby’s oral development, as it affects their ability to eat, speak and swallow. Even everyday activities, such as licking an ice cream cone, kissing or playing certain instruments can be challenging.

In speech, the mobility of the tongue is necessary for certain sounds, such as “t”, “d”, “z”, “s”, “th”, “r”, and “I.”

Other challenges that may present when an infant, child or adult has a tongue-tie include poor oral hygiene because the tongue is not able to properly sweep food debris from the teeth, contributing to tooth decay and gingivitis. Extremely thick frenulum can also lead to the formation of a gap or space between the bottom teeth.

Aside from tongue-tie, infants may also be diagnosed with lip-tie, or a labial frenulum. This is when the thin membrane that attaches the top gumline to the upper lip, is tight or overly thick. Severe lip-tie can interfere with a baby’s ability to maintain a latch during breastfeeding. A thick labial frenulum can also affect the way the child’s top front teeth come in, often causing a gap between the two front teeth.

 

The Good News

There is hope. Tongue-tie and lip-tie do not have to be lifelong problems. In most cases, both tongue and lip-ties can be released with either a scalpel or scissors, or by laser. Lasers are a great choice as they do not normally require anesthesia. Laser treatment is also able to cauterize the area immediately, so there is minimal bleeding and minimizes any risk of infection. Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is proud to offer laser treatment for tongue-tie and/or lip-tie. If you are concerned that your child may have either of these issues, we encourage you give us a call.  Your visit will consist of us evaluating your child and discussing any issues we see.  We will also discuss possible treatment options and answer any questions you may have.

A Quick and easy solution to a frustrating problem - now, that’s Something to Smile About!