The Effects Of Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers

BEING A PARENT, though wonderfully rewarding, can also be stressful and full of uncertainties, especially when it’s your first child and everything is new and overwhelming. Our practice might not be able to take away all of the uncertainties, but we can certainly help you out when it comes to pacifiers and thumb sucking and their effects on your child’s dental health.

Benefits of Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers

According to the American Dental Association, it’s a natural reflex for babies to suck on things. They find it comforting and soothing, which means that allowing thumb sucking or giving them a pacifier can help them feel happy and safe as they grow from infancy to toddlerhood. At this stage, are many benefits to pacifiers or thumb sucking, for the baby and for the parents:

  • It helps your baby sleep (which also helps you sleep).
  • It keeps your baby calmer when separated from you.
  • Studies have shown that pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

When To Wean

One of the main concerns parents often have about thumb sucking in particular is whether or not it will cause their adult teeth to grow in crooked. This certainly can be a problem, but not for toddlers. Most children will stop sucking their thumbs on their own by age four. If they don’t stop on their own, this is when it becomes important to encourage them to stop.

If vigorous thumb sucking continues around when they start getting their permanent teeth, it can lead to changes in the palate that affect the permanent bite. Dental alignment and bite issues are less common with pacifiers because breaking that habit can be as simple as taking the pacifier away if they’re still using them by age three.

For more information about weaning your child off of their pacifier, watch the video below:

Thumb Sucking And Pacifier Don’ts

Because these sources of comfort don’t cause damage until the adult teeth are coming in, it isn’t necessary to attempt to break your child’s habit before the age of four. Younger toddlers in particular aren’t old enough to understand why parents want them to stop sucking their thumb or pacifier, so they’ll only get upset.

When you do want to wean them off thumb sucking, be careful with topical aids that make the thumb taste unpleasant, because they can be ineffective or even harmful.

Weaning Strategies For Thumb Suckers

Ideally, you’ll be able to wean your child off thumb sucking before they turn five, but if your child is close to age six and is still an avid thumb sucker, it’s definitely time to get serious. Here are some safe strategies you can use:

  • Praise them for successes rather than scolding them for continued thumb sucking.
  • Use a rewards chart so they can see the goals they’re working towards.
  • Make sure they have plenty of activities to do with their hands, like arts and crafts.
  • Put socks on their hands while they sleep so that they don’t have access to their thumbs. You may need to tape the socks in place so they can’t pull them off.

Bring Your Concerns To Us

Don’t hesitate to talk to us if you’re worried about your child’s pacifier use or thumb sucking habit. We can answer any other questions you may have and help you come up with a strategy to safeguard your child’s healthy dental development.

Your child’s oral health is our first priority!

Top image by Flickr user futurestreet used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Swimmer’s Ear? More Like Swimmer’s Tooth!

HAVE YOUR TEETH ever felt extra sensitive after a swim at the pool? That’s no coincidence, although it can take quite a lot of swimming before the effects become noticeable. What is it about the water in swimming pools that damages teeth?

Chlorine: Good For Sanitation, Bad For Teeth

That’s right: the same chemical that kills many of the germs that love swimming in fresh water as much as we do can also be pretty hard on our teeth if the pool’s pH isn’t carefully regulated. The proper pH for pool water is 7.2-7.8, but it can easily become acidic because of the chlorine.

Swimmer’s Calculus: A Risk For Serious Swimmers

Swimmer’s Calculus isn’t the name of an underwater math class; it’s what happens to tooth enamel after prolonged exposure to acidic chlorine ions. The pH of saliva in a healthy mouth is very close to neutral. It’s the perfect pH to keep your teeth strong (as long as we’re also brushing and flossing).

Acid, like the diluted hydrochloric acid that forms in pools with chlorine, will erode more tooth enamel the longer we swim. This can lead to “swimmer’s calculus,” or yellow and brown stains on our teeth. It can also make our teeth extra sensitive after swimming, because erosion of the enamel exposes the more vulnerable dentin underneath.

Other Underwater Tooth Problems

Maybe you’re not a huge fan of the public pool, but you love snorkeling and diving in natural bodies of water. While you probably won’t have to worry about swimmer’s calculus, those activities come with their own set of tooth-threatening problems.

Scuba Diving And Tooth Squeeze

Diving in the deep end of a pool is enough to make us feel the water pressure in our ears, but did you know that when you dive deep enough, you might feel it in your teeth? Barodontalgia, or tooth squeeze, is what happens when tiny air bubbles trapped in cracks, crevices, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure. This can cause significant tooth pain and it can even fracture teeth. The best way to prevent it is to visit the dentist before diving season begins.

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

Most divers know the inconvenience of the mouthpiece design, but you might not know all the specific ways it’s bad for your teeth. The shape has been described as “one size fits none” because it’s too small and doesn’t really fit most divers’ teeth. Despite the less-than-ideal size and shape, we still have to grip it between our teeth the entire time we dive.

Clenching our jaws for so long, especially when the pressure is mostly on the front teeth, can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which causes jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. A good solution, particularly for a frequent diver, is to get a custom-fitted molded mouthpiece.

To learn more about TMJ and the treatment options available, watch the video below:

We’ll Help You Prepare Your Teeth For The Water!

We want to make sure you have a great summer enjoying all of your favorite water activities without fear for your teeth. Schedule an appointment so that we can come up with the best plan to help you avoid these common underwater tooth problems!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Protecting Your Smile From White Spots

WHITE SPOTS APPEAR on our teeth for a variety of reasons. Although not all of them are harmful to our oral health, they still prevent our smile from truly shining through.

Today we want to share with you some of the most common reasons these white spots appear, and what treatment is available to remove them and give you a bright, beautiful smile.

#1: Fluorosis

One cause for those unsightly white spots is fluorosis, which is what happens to our adult teeth when we get too much fluoride before they finish developing under our gums. Fluorosis doesn’t damage the teeth, it just creates an uneven, sometimes spotty bleaching effect.

The best way to avoid it is to make sure your child isn’t using too much toothpaste when they’re under eight years old. You should only use a dab of toothpaste no larger than a smear or a grain of rice on babies and toddlers.

#2: Enamel Hypoplasia

Having hypoplastic tooth enamel means having a thinner or less mineralized layer of enamel than usual. This leaves teeth vulnerable to stains and tooth decay. It can be caused in a child’s teeth when the mother smokes during pregnancy. Other causes include malnutrition and premature birth.

#3: Demineralization

Another common cause of white spots on teeth, and perhaps the most dangerous one to dental health, is demineralization. When plaque isn’t sufficiently cleaned away, it eats away at the minerals on the surface of our teeth, leading to the loss of enamel and the buildup of tartar. Healthy brushing and flossing habits, as well as regular dental cleanings, are essential for preventing demineralization.

#4: Braces And Demineralization

Having braces makes your teeth particularly vulnerable to decalcification. It takes more effort to reach all those tiny crevices where plaque can build up, and any change in the color of your teeth won’t affect the patches beneath the brackets. With braces, therefore, it’s not only important to brush and floss thoroughly to keep plaque and tartar at bay; you also need to make sure you aren’t using whitening toothpaste.

Different Options Exist For Treating White Spots

Preventing white spots is always preferable to needing to treat them after they form, but there are a few treatments available.

  • Microabrasion involves carefully removing a thin layer of enamel to give your teeth a more uniform appearance, and sometimes this is paired with tooth-whitening treatments.
  • Bleaching is another way of giving your teeth more balanced color. While there are over-the-counter bleaching kits, we recommend having it done in the dentist’s office or with dentist-approved take-home kits.
  • Veneers are a good option when the staining is particularly severe and bleaching won’t be enough to fix it. The dentist attaches thin porcelain to your teeth, giving them a natural, white appearance.

Let’s Keep Those Smiles Sparkling!

If you’re concerned about preventing white spots or already have them and would like to discuss treatment, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment!

We want all our patients to be proud of their smiles!

Top image by Flickr user David Schiersner used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Photo Op: Types Of Dental X-Rays

EVERYONE WHO’S BEEN TO THE DENTIST is familiar with X-rays. You put on the lead apron, you’re given a rectangular contraption and told “put this between your teeth and bite down,” and then you hear that tinny beep. Have you ever wondered what the different types of dental X-rays are and what they’re for? Let’s take a closer look at three of the most common ones.

The Big Picture: Panoramic X-Rays

Has an X-ray technician ever had you stand on a circular platform and stand still for several seconds while the machine spun around your head? Then you’ve had a panoramic X-ray, which is the most common type of extraoral dental X-ray.

With these, we can see your entire mouth in one image, because the camera travels all the way around your head while taking the picture. These X-rays show incoming adult teeth and wisdom teeth, including any that are impacted, which is how we determine if there’s enough room for these teeth to come in and if they’ll come in on their own. Panoramic X-rays also make it much easier to detect things like tumors, cysts, and abscesses.

Glamor Shots: Bitewing X-Rays

As you might have guessed from the name, bitewing X-rays are the ones where the patient has to bite down on a piece of dental film before the image is taken. Because the dental film is inside your mouth, bitewing X-rays are a type of intraoral X-ray. Usually, there will be one X-ray taken for each of the four quadrants of your mouth.

Bitewing X-rays are taken to give us a clear view of the crevices between your teeth, which are difficult to see with the naked eye. With these images, we can easily check for tooth decay and cavities in those areas.

It’s Time For Your Close-Up: Periapical X-Rays

This intraoral X-ray is the close-up of the dental world. If a specific tooth or area in your mouth is bothering you, we’ll probably take a periapical X-ray to get a clear idea of what’s going on there, but they can also be taken alongside bitewing X-rays even if you aren’t aware of an obvious tooth problem.

For more information on dental X-rays and why they’re so important, watch the video below:

Early Warnings For Healthier Smiles

All types of X-rays are simple, low-risk tools that help us catch dental problems early on, maybe before you’ve even noticed anything! However, in order for us to do that, it’s crucial that you come in for your regular cleanings and dental exams. Is your smile ready for its next close-up?

We’re so happy to have you as part of our practice family!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Vacation Tips To Keep Your Smile Healthy!

SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE and you know what that means–family vacations, impromptu getaways and fun trips! Just like you, we couldn’t be more excited. As dental professionals, however, we want to make sure that when you leave on vacation, you don’t leave your oral hygiene behind. Follow these tips to keep your teeth healthy and bright, even when you’re traveling!

Have A Dental Checkup Before Leaving Town

Nothing can ruin a vacation quite like a toothache or other dental emergency. And depending on where you’re traveling to, it could be difficult to get the proper treatment required. It’s always best to get your teeth checked before going on a trip to make sure everything is in tip-top shape!

At your checkup, your dentist will have your teeth cleaned, check for cavities or other dental issues, and make sure that any tooth restorations you may have, such as crowns or fillings, are firmly in place. Untreated cavities or weakened dental work can cause pain on flights, so it’s best to take care of them beforehand!

Watch What You Eat When Traveling

One of the reasons that we go on vacation is for the amazing food! Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to get carried away. Just remember when you’re traveling this summer to eat sweets and snacks in moderation, and make sure to bring some sugarless chewing gum to pop in your mouth after eating. Research shows that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can help prevent cavities!

Keep Up Your Oral Hygiene Routine

Vacating your normal life and responsibilities for a short time is what vacations are all about! It’s important that you don’t leave your oral hygiene at home, however. Keeping your teeth healthy is something that requires daily care, so make sure your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss are at the top of your packing list!

Quick tip: When packing your toothbrush, make sure to store it in a case or bag that is ventilated. If you use a brush head cover or need to pack it in a bag without any ventilation, make sure it’s completely dry before storing it. This will help reduce the amount of bacteria on your toothbrush.

Having trouble packing for your trip? Check out this video for a few helpful packing tips:

Bon Voyage!

We hope these tips will help you protect your teeth, even when you’re on vacation. You’ll have a lot more fun knowing that your chompers are taken care of and your smile is summer-ready. Wishing safe travels and a wonderful summer to all of our amazing patients!

Thank you for the trust you place in our practice!

Top image by Flickr user Tommy Wong used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.