Category: Kid’s Teeth

Focus on Kids’ Healthy Smiles!

Children's Dental Health Month

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. To celebrate the American Dental Association is encouraging good brushing habits activity and coloring pages, including a downloadable Brushing Calendar to help your little ones track the good habits they are developing.

We talk about it every year, but lifelong habits start early. The following guidelines can help parents make sure kids’ brushing habits are on track:

Babies – Under 1 Year

Babies don’t usually get their first teeth until around eight months, but they still need a clean mouth! Gently cleaning gums with a soft cloth, gauze, or a super-soft fingertip baby toothbrush can help remove food particles. But don’t press too hard – a very light pressure will keep from irritating sensitive gums.

 

Toddlers – 1 to 2 Years

When baby’s first tooth erupts, it’s time to begin to use a toddler-sized toothbrush for cleaning their mouth. Look for a brush that has very soft, rounded bristles that easily fits in their little mouth. As soon as they have more than one tooth and the teeth edges touch, you can begin using wide, flat floss. Again, make sure to only apply gentle pressure while cleaning all sides of the tooth. Making oral hygiene part of their regular bedtime routine is the first step in a lifetime’s good habits.

 

Preschoolers – 2 to 4 years

As their independence, mobility, and language begin to develop, so will their teeth. They’ll already be familiar with brushing and flossing, and the next step is brushing for themselves. You should tart by empowering them them to choose their own toothbrush. Making a big decision for themselves will excite them, and they’ll have their pick from a huge array of cartoon characters, TV show themes, and movie heroes. You will, however, need to make sure they’re choosing one that fits easily in their mouth and has soft bristles to protect their gums. Since they lack hand dexterity at this age, their toothbrushes are shorter and equipped with larger handles. You should still be supervising their brushing at this stage.

 

School-aged Children – 5 to 8 years

At this age, a good brushing routine and technique should be established. They’ll need to upgrade to a longer-necked brush with a larger head that still fits comfortably in their mouth while brushing. And they’ll still be choosing a style with bright colors and familiar characters. At this stage they can begin flossing on their own, but again with supervision. By the time they’re in 2ndor 3rdgrade, they should be able to brush and floss independently.

 

Beyond basic hygiene, dentist visits are something that should also begin at a young age. If your baby has older siblings, it’s a perfect time to get them used to the idea of visiting Meyer & Johns twice a year. We can do a pretend “Mouth Check” of toddlers, even if they don’t have enough teeth to clean! If haven’t already introduced your child to our friendly office staff, bring them to your next appointment.

Dental Sealants

sealants
Like weatherproofing, dental sealants lock out harmful substances.

 

We know that we go on and on about tooth care… it’s kind of in our job description. But what if your kids’ brushing routines are on point, and they’re still getting cavities — even sometimes multiples during a single checkup? If you have taken the right dietary steps, and are 100% confident that they’re brushing properly and often, your kids’ cavities might not be entirely their fault.

Just like faces and bodies and personalities, each set of teeth is unique to its owner. We all have common tooth features, but sometimes the natural contours on teeth can cause problems. In some children and adults, the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of back teeth are especially deep or irregularly shaped. Food, plaque, and other cavity-causing substances gather in these nooks and crannies, thwarting even the most diligent brushing attempts.

Sealants to the Rescue

The good news is that there’s an option other than simply filling in the cavities as they occur. Around since the 1960’s, dental sealants have gained popularity in recent years for adding a protective layer to teeth and preventing decay. The treatment is simple, painless and performed in our offices. It consists of painting a thin plastic coating on chewing surfaces of the molars and pre-molars. The sealant is then hardened with ultraviolet light, much like modern fillings. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, sealants are recommended for children between the ages of 6 -12, and the treatment can remain effective for up to 10 years. Even small cavities that existed before treatment will not spread, since the sealant cuts off the source of decay.

Debunking BPA Concerns

In recent years dental sealants have come into question for containing Bisphenol A (BPA). It is widely used in consumer packaging, as well as plastic water bottles, canned foods, pacifiers, cash register tape, and many other products. BPA is present in most U.S. residents, its effects on overall health have yet to be conclusively determined. And while dental sealants do contain traces of BPA, the levels are far lower than other common areas of exposure. In fact, according to the ADA, exposure from breathing normal everyday air is 100 times higher than standard dental sealants.

Even more good news – if Drs. Meyer or Johns determine it would reduce cavities, dental insurance is likely to cover the treatment cost. Along with a fluoride-based toothpaste and good brushing habits, sealants provide a One-Two punch that prevents nearly all tooth decay.

If you have a question about sealants for your child, ask us at their next appointment.

Thanksgiving Foods to Smile About

Turkey-themed Fruit Plate

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Eating Season, with feasts, leftovers, and of course, desserts! As always, brushing is key protecting your family’s teeth. Make sure to stick to your established brushing routines even though eating patterns maybe different than usual.

But there are also other ways to make your gatherings and meals better for both teeth and overall health. Consider alternative recipes for making old favorites, or starting a new food tradition by serving something entirely different. Here are some options to consider:

Sweet Potatoes

These are a Thanksgiving staple for many families, but traditional preparation often includes up to a cup of brown sugar, plus sticky marshmallow topping. Why not try a different, healthier take this year by roasting instead? Toss your cubed sweet potatoes with olive oil, honey, and cinnamon and bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Honey blends differently with vegetables than processed sweetener, and helps bring out the natural sweetness without coating teeth in sugar.

Cranberry Sauce

You really can’t do Thanksgiving without it, but canned varieties and many traditional recipes contain excessive amounts of — you guessed it — sugar. Not that we dentists don’t love cranberries… research suggests that they inhibit the formation of glucan, the sticky molecular foundation that plaque uses to collect on your teeth. For a healthier alternative, the website WellnessMama.com has a no-refined-sugar recipe that is a tasty way to get your annual cranberry fix.

 

Little Gobbler Veggie Cups

 

Easy Clementine Pumpkins

Fruits & Veggies

These should always be a go-to snack, and holidays are no different! Blogs and social media sites are great sources for creative presentation ideas to get kids engaged with healthier holiday snacking. We’ve shown a few of our recent easy favorites from Pinterest above.

Whatever is on your plate, all of us at Meyer & Johns Dental are thankful to be your dental care home, and wish you a safe, festive Thanksgiving holiday.

 

Thumb-Sucking and Its Effects

thumb-sucking
Thumb-sucking is a habit most children outgrow by age 4.

Thumbs In, Lights Out

It’s the picture of childhood innocence: A tired toddler down for a nap, holding a love-worn blanket and sucking their thumb. Whatever gets them to sleep… right, parents? However, if this sweet scenario continues for too long, it may have negative effects on your child’s teeth, speech, and jaw development.

Sucking is a reflex that is present from birth, but research shows that extended thumb-sucking may cause issues. The good news is that most children break the habit on their own, usually between age two and four. The bad news is that if they don’t, you will need to take action.

What’s the Big Deal?

All babies go through an appropriate oral stage of development. But if thumb-sucking  is allowed to go on until the child’s permanent teeth begin to develop, it can block front teeth from fully erupting, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Additionally, it can cause them to push forward (overbite) or the two middle teeth toseparate   (malocclusion or gap teeth). These problems sometime occur more severely on one side, since children usually suck the thumb on their dominant hand. When the thumb-sucking is particularly forceful and extends over a long period of time, those forces can even potentially impact the growth of the jaws. Speech experts also note that the habit may be a risk factor in developing an interdental lisp. This correctable articulation difficulty occurs when the tongue protrudes forward between the front teeth, causing “S” and “Z” sounds to be produced as “th”.

How to Correct

It is most important to remember that thumb-sucking is a method of self-soothing. As such, it often occurs when children need comfort, feel insecure, or are anxious. Therefore, you should focus on correcting the cause of the child’s anxiety. Unchecked oral fixation can lead to negative habits in teens and adults, including biting fingernails, comfort eating, smoking, and even alcoholism.

The ADA’s consumer site offers several tips for helping your child stop thumb-sucking, including:

  • Praise for keeping their thumb out of their mouths
  • Rewards for progress and success
  • Seek your dentist’s help – Have Dr. Meyer or Dr. Johns explain thumb-sucking’s negative effects to your child at your next appointment.