Top Causes Of Childhood Tooth Decay

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42 PERCENT OF CHILDREN will get at least one cavity between ages 2 and 11, and tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. Why is it so common, and what can we as parents do to keep our children’s teeth healthy? Well, before we can fight childhood tooth decay, we have to understand what causes it.

Sippy Cups And Baby Bottle Rot

One of the biggest dangers to a child’s oral health comes from sugary drinks and the way children consume them. Whether the drink is soda, fruit juice, or even milk, the sugars in the drink will feed your child’s oral bacteria and increase the risk of decay. Sugars in drinks become particularly dangerous if a child has access to a bottle or sippy cup that they can keep drinking from over a long period of time, because their teeth are constantly exposed to more sugar.

This is such a common problem that it has actually earned its own name: baby bottle tooth decay, or bottle rot. Now, we aren’t suggesting a total ban on all sugary drinks, but the less time your child’s teeth are exposed to them, the better. Sugary drinks are much safer for teeth when consumed quickly at mealtimes. If a sippy cup or bottle is the only thing that helps your child fall asleep at naptime and bedtime, then the healthiest option for their teeth would be to fill it with water.

Sugary Snacks And Candy

Sugar doesn’t have to be in liquid form to cause trouble for the teeth, which brings us to our next oral health danger for children: snacks. Everything from candy to healthier options like cheese and crackers contains sugar. Every time we eat, our saliva needs at least half an hour to wash away all the remnants of the food, but when children have access to snacks all the time, their mouths never have a chance to recover.

So just like with sugary drinks, it’s best to consume sugary foods during mealtimes instead of nibbling on them throughout the day. Cutting back on treats with the most sugar, like candy, is also a good choice for dental health.

What Parents Can Do

Apart from cutting down on juice-filled sippy cups and sugary snacks, there is a lot that parents can do to ensure that their children remain cavity-free. The most important thing is teach them how to effectively brush their teeth and help them get to a point where it becomes a routine rather than a chore. Giving them a toothbrush and toothpaste they like will make this easier. And don’t forget to teach them about flossing! Also avoid doing things that will spread bacteria, such as sharing spoons or cleaning a dropped pacifier with your own mouth.

Here’s a fun demonstration you can do with your kids to show how soda affects teeth:

The Role Of Your Child’s Dentist

Even if you’re already doing everything in this post with your children, sometimes a cavity will still appear. Don’t get discouraged! Everyone’s teeth are different, which is why the final crucial thing you can do as a parent to help your child keep their teeth healthy is bringing them in to see us for cleanings and dental exams!

Keep up the good work raising kids with great oral health!

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.

op image by Flickr user Upsilon Andromedae used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Why Are Dental Sealants Important?

DO YOU SPEND A LOT of time worrying about how to keep your child’s teeth cavity-free? Teaching them to brush and floss are critical steps towards ensuring that they can take good care of their teeth for life. Once those permanent teeth come in, there’s something we can do at the dental practice that will give them even more protection against tooth decay, and that something is applying dental sealants.

Bacteria Versus Your Child’s Teeth

The reason it’s so critical to teach our children good oral health habits at an early age is that 40 percent of children develop cavities by the time they start school because of poor oral hygiene and consuming sugary snacks and drinks. Every human mouth contains numerous species of bacteria that excrete acid onto our teeth when consume sugar, and this acid wears away at our enamel and leads to tooth decay.

Brushing, flossing, and limiting our sugar intake are all important ways we can keep that bacteria in check. But even when we do all of these things, there are crevices in our teeth where bacteria can hide, and these can be difficult to reach with a toothbrush. That’s where sealants come in!

family dentist park ridgeWhat Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a protective clear plastic layer brushed onto the chewing surfaces of teeth to “seal them off” from plaque and bacteria that would cause cavities to form. Dentists started using sealants in the 1960s, and they’ve been popular ever since.

Typically, sealants are applied to the molars because these teeth are the ones that do the most chewing and have those deep crevices where bacteria can hide. The sealant will fill in and cover any crevices on the tooth to act as a shield from the bacteria. What makes them even better is that the sealant application process is quick and painless!

When Should Your Child Get Sealants?

The best time to bring your child in for dental sealants is around when their adult molars erupt, which is usually at age six. The sooner they sealants are in place, the less opportunity the oral bacteria will have to build up in the crevices of the molars. However, sealants are still beneficial when applied later on. Older children and even adults can get them and have their teeth protected too!

Schedule Your Child’s Next Appointment Today!

Whether your child needs sealants or just a normal twice-yearly dental cleaning, don’t hesitate to schedule their next appointment! And if you have any concerns with the way your child is brushing or with how the food they eat might be affecting their teeth, be sure to let us know so that we can help.

Our top priority is protecting your child’s smile!

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.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The Negative Effects Of Mouth-Breathing

dentist 60068WE ALL KNOW WHAT it’s like to have a cold, with a nose so stuffy that you can’t breathe through it. At times like that, we breathe through our mouths instead, and that’s pretty much how it should work. Mouth-breathing is an emergency backup, not the default. There are many negative effects of mouth-breathing full-time, particularly if the habit begins in childhood.

Why Does Mouth-Breathing Become A Habit?

Many things can lead to a mouth-breathing habit. A small child might get a cold and then simply continue breathing through his mouth when his nose clears. A problem with bite alignment can make it difficult to keep the mouth closed. Persistent allergies, overlarge tonsils, or a deviated septum could make nose-breathing difficult or impossible most of the time. Fortunately, these problems can often be solved by orthodontic treatment or surgery.

Why Mouth-Breathing Is A Problem

In the short term, mouth-breathing leads to a variety of issues, including:

  • Dry mouth: mouth-breathing dries out the mouth, removing the first defense against oral bacteria. This can lead to consequences such as chronic bad breath and tooth decay.
  • Lack of energy: getting less oxygen by breathing through the mouth will result in poor sleep quality and lowered energy levels overall. For kids, this means difficulty paying attention in school, and for adults, work productivity can suffer.

The negative effects of mouth-breathing don’t stop in the short-term. They can actually be life-altering, particularly when the habit begins in childhood and goes unchecked.

  • Facial structure: mouth-breathing can actually lead the bones of the face to develop differently, yielding flat features, drooping eyes, a narrow jaw and dental arch, and a small chin.
  • Sleep apnea: the risk of sleep apnea goes up with mouth-breathing, and this can make it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep.
  • Orthodontic treatment: the narrowed dental arch of a chronic mouth-breather rarely has enough room for the full set of adult teeth, and this will require orthodontic treatment to correct.

The Benefits Of Nose-Breathing

Breathing through the nose doesn’t just help you avoid the effects of mouth-breathing; it comes with additional benefits too! Here are just a few of them:

  • The nose acts as an air filter, delivering clean air to the lungs and reducing the amount of allergens that get in.
  • Nose-breathing produces nitric oxide, which helps with oxygen absorption and sterilizes the air.
  • Nose-breathing strengthens the immune system by activating immunoglobulin production.

Need Help Building Healthier Breathing Habits?

If you or your child has a mouth-breathing habit, it can be tricky to break, especially if the cause is a physical obstruction that requires treatment. Schedule a dental exam right away so the cause can be detected and you can get on the road to healthier breathing and all the benefits that come with it!

We love our wonderful patients!

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.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Fun Tooth Fairy Ideas

family dentist in park ridgeTHE EXCITEMENT OF LOSING a tooth and waiting for the Tooth Fairy to come is something almost every child looks forward to, but how can parents make sure this rite of passage lives up to the hype? If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your Tooth Fairy game, we have a few ideas you could use!

The Tooth Fairy’s Origins

The idea of a fairy who quietly swaps a child’s tooth for money or a small gift overnight isn’t a very old one, but there have been traditions associated with children losing their first tooth since the time of the Vikings, when the teeth were often buried to ensure a happy life for the child or considered good luck in battle. These days, many cultures have the Tooth Fairy or a Tooth Mouse, but exactly how the tradition operates varies from household to household.

A Few Fun Tooth Fairy Ideas

If you or your children are getting bored with the old dollar-under-the-pillow routine, it might be time to help your Tooth Fairy out. Try out one or more of these to really bring the magic back:

  • Tooth Fairy pillow: Sew a little pillow big enough to hold the lost tooth! When the Tooth Fairy comes, she’ll replace the tooth with whatever item she brings and put it in the same slot the tooth was in.
  • Fairy Dust: Sprinkle a coating of glitter over the Tooth Fairy money to make it seem like it’s covered in magical fairy dust!
  • Tooth Fairy note: Leave a signed note from the Tooth Fairy to let your child know they’re doing a great job on their oral hygiene and encourage them to keep it up!
  • Tooth box: A good way to make sure the tooth doesn’t become lost is to put it in a cute little box! Your child can decorate the box to make it even more special, and then the Tooth Fairy can put the reward in the box when she takes the tooth.
  • Tooth Fairy door: If your child’s room doesn’t have a window that opens (or if you want to do it just for fun), you could provide a special door the Tooth Fairy can use! A simple, fairy sized, door is a great way to make sure she doesn’t get stuck outside!
  • Capturing the Tooth Fairy: Can you catch the Tooth Fairy on camera? There are websites and editing apps that will help you get this amazing footage. But remember, the Tooth Fairy is very tricky and might be hard to catch!

If you want a Tooth Fairy project to sink your teeth into, check out what this dad did:

 

Close Colleagues: The Dentist And The Tooth Fairy

A great way to make sure everything is going well with your child’s incoming adult tooth and the rest of their teeth is to bring them in for a check-up and cleaning! We can also offer more Tooth Fairy ideas and tips on how to handle those loose teeth. Don’t forget to tell us your Tooth Fairy stories!

We can’t wait to hear how things went with the Tooth Fairy!

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.

Top image by Flickr user John Anes used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Thumb-Sucking, Pacifiers, And Oral Health

family dentist park ridgeTHE WORLD IS A big, new, confusing place for a young child, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they like having something familiar to help them cope. Sometimes this means a stuffed animal or favorite blanket they carry everywhere, but for many children, it’s a pacifier or a thumb.

As parents, it’s important to be able to strike the right balance for our children when it comes to thumb-sucking or pacifier habits. Forcing them to stop too early can bring them unnecessary stress, but allowing them to continue sucking that thumb too long can cause significant problems for their oral health.

When Thumb-Sucking And Pacifiers Are Beneficial

Sucking on things is a reflex babies develop before birth, and it can be very comforting for them. Sucking their thumb or a pacifier will help them feel safe and happy in their earliest years of life. Benefits to thumb-sucking or pacifier use at this stage include helping them sleep (which also helps you sleep), keeping them calm when separated from you, and reducing the risk of SIDS.

When Is It Time To Stop?

Many parents worry that their toddler’s thumb-sucking or pacifier use will cause their adult teeth to grow in crooked, but there’s no need to worry at this age. Most children stop sucking their thumbs on their own by age four, and when they begin school, the desire to appear as grown-up as their peers will encourage them to stop.

If they don’t stop on their own around kindergarten age, this is when it’s important to intervene. Once the permanent teeth start coming in, vigorous thumb-sucking can lead to changes in the shape of the palate and an open bite between the upper and lower teeth, which will mean expensive orthodontic treatment down the line.

Tips For Discouraging Thumb-Sucking

Bite and dental alignment problems are less common with pacifiers because parents can simply take the pacifier away if the child doesn’t stop using it on their own by age three, but if your child is getting close to age six and still sucking their thumb, here are a few safe strategies you could use:

  • Praise their successes rather than scolding them for continuing to suck their thumb.
  • Create a rewards chart so they can see the progress they’re making and what they’re working for.
  • Keep their hands and minds occupied with activities like arts and crafts. Sometimes they thumb-suck because they’re bored!
  • Cover their hands with socks at night to keep them from thumb-sucking in their sleep. (You may need to tape these in place so they can’t remove them.)

Don’t forget that these strategies are for kindergarten-age and older children, not toddlers! Toddlers are too young to understand why you want them to stop sucking their thumb, so attempts at discouragement will only upset them.

Come To Us With Your Concerns

If you’re worried about your child’s pacifier use or thumb-sucking habit, don’t hesitate to talk to us! We can answer your questions and help you develop an effective strategy to ensure your child’s healthy dental development.

We love having you and your child as part of our practice family!

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.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Oral Health Habits To Teach Your Children

family dentist park ridgeRAISING A CHILD IS TOUGH work. There are so many things parents have to teach them so that they can succeed as they grow older. Included on that list are good oral health habits that will enable them to keep their teeth healthy and strong for life!

Build Good Habits Early

For permanent teeth to be healthy and strong it’s crucial to start building good oral health habits at a very young age. These habits include brushing their teeth twice a day for two full minutes, scraping their tongues, and flossing daily. Being consistent with a daily routine will help establish these habits quickly. Besides, you want to keep their baby teeth healthy so that their adult teeth will come in where they should and have a healthy start!

Tactics For Teaching Oral Hygiene

Children love to imitate what their parents do, and they love proving that they are big boys and girls. Aside from letting them watch someone brush their teeth, here are a few other ways to help them form good habits!

  • Get them excited! Talking up good oral health will help them to get excited about starting to brush their own teeth as well as flossing and eating the right foods.
  • Let them choose their own “equipment.” When they choose their own toothbrush, it will them take ownership of their oral health, so encourage them to pick out their favorite one!
  • Use examples! Youtube videos, apps, children’s books, etc. are great examples, other than brushing yourself, to show your child that having good oral health is fun to do!
  • Praise their successes. If they know you’re proud of them for brushing their teeth, they’ll be proud of themselves and be happier to do it. You might even use a reward system until they get in the habit, like a sticker chart to build up to a prize.

Share this video with your children to show them why they should take care of their teeth:

Our Extra Expertise

If your child is still refusing to brush their teeth, or is having a hard time grasping the concept of maintaining good oral health, that’s okay! Every child learns at their own pace. Just be patient and keep trying. You can also come to Davis & Engert Dentistry for help. We can show them examples, talk to them, try to find out why they’re not so interested in brushing, and set up a routine with them! They’ll be tooth-brushing pros before you know it.

We look forward to seeing you again!

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.

Top image by Flickr user Garry Wiseman used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Is Your Child Teething?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA7Cn9E7gREEVERY CHILD GOES through periods of teething, which can be particularly difficult because they are too young to understand it. It can also be hard for parents, but teething is completely normal and we’re here to set our patients at ease about what to expect and how to deal with it.

The Stages Of Teething

The first thing to know about teething is that there are different stages. The first stage is erupting, which is the period when the teeth grow up from the jaw bones towards the surface of the gums. The second stage is cutting, which is when the teeth actually break through the gum line. It’s very common for babies and toddlers to experience pain during these stages, but they can’t communicate this to their parents, so it often manifests as picky eating, tiredness, or even hunger.

Signs And Symptoms Of Teething

A baby’s first teeth usually appear at between 4-6 months, but it isn’t uncommon to see them anywhere between 3-14 months. If your baby’s teeth are taking a little longer to show up, don’t be alarmed. While no two children will go through the exact same thing, here are a few of the most common symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Irritability
  • Biting, chewing, sucking on everything
  • Refusing to bite, chew, or suck
  • Rejecting foods
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding breastfeeding

Diarrhea, a fever, and a runny nose are not typically associated with teething. These are more likely symptoms of another problem like a virus. If they persist or worsen, it could be time to visit the pediatrician.

Soothing Your Teething Child

There are few things that can be done to help ease the teething process. First, don’t stop breastfeeding! Breast milk has been known to be one of the best pain remedies for teething. Next, let them chew on things! They need to chew to help the teeth cut through the gums, so chewing, sucking, and biting everything is actually necessary. This is where teething toys can come in.

Good Toys To Consider

Although most teething toys are safe to use, there are a few to steer clear of. Before you buy a teething toy, make sure it doesn’t contain BPA, PVC, or phthalates — chemicals that are used in everyday itemssuch as women’s perfume and lotion to make them last longer, all of which can be harmful if consumed.

It’s also important to keep in mind a few key points when picking toys. Consider what the toy is made out of. Is it solid or does it have a gel filling of some kind (and if so, does it seem sturdy enough not to leak)? Can it be cooled in the fridge? Can it clip onto your child’s clothing? Is it easy for them to hold?

Check out this video for a few more teething tips:

 

 

Come To Us With Your Teething Concerns

If you feel you’ve done all you can to help your child along during their teething process but things still seem to be going awry, you can always bring them to see us! We can check to make sure their teeth are coming in well and that they’re right on track. Just make the call and we’ll be here!

It’s no contest; our patients are the best!

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.

Top image by Flickr user mylissa used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

park ridge family dentistSOMETIMES, BEDTIME CAN BE a real struggle, and a bottle might seem like an easy solution. Unfortunately, putting a baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice does more harm than good, because the easier bedtime comes at the expense of the baby’s oral health. Keeping those baby teeth healthy is crucial so that the adult teeth will have a better chance of coming in straight.

What Is Bottle Rot?

Prolonged exposure to the sugars in milk or juice erodes the enamel on a baby or toddler’s teeth, particularly the central incisors. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “baby bottle tooth decay” or the more sinister-sounding “bottle rot,” this is what it refers to, and it’s definitely something to avoid. It can also happen with sippy cups and even breastfeeding! If a baby’s gums and teeth aren’t properly cleaned after feeding, the sugary milk residue left in their mouth increases the risk of tooth decay.

Stopping Bottle Rot Before It Starts

Preventing bottle rot is simple: only use a bottle for the baby’s mealtimes, not to soothe them or help them fall asleep when they aren’t hungry. A pacifier will be much healthier for their teeth. After the baby reaches six months old, it’s safe to use a bottle of water, or a sippy cup of water for toddlers. Not only will it not cause bottle rot, but it won’t leave stains if it spills!

After every meal, make sure to clean out milk residue. Once baby teeth start appearing, it’s time to start brushing them. Use a soft toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Because babies can’t rinse and spit, make sure to use a non-fluoride toothpaste that is safe to swallow.

Treating Existing Bottle Rot

If your baby is already showing signs of tooth decay, come see us! We’ll be able to assess the extent of the decay, deal with any cavities, and come up with a plan to prevent future damage. One of the easiest steps you’ll be able to take at home is to limit their consumption of sugary drinks like juice and soda. You can also bring them to us for fluoride varnish treatments to give their teeth extra protection.

We Can Help

We know that parenting is full of unexpected twists and turns, but we’re happy to help you navigate the ones involved in infant and child dental care. Like you, we want your child to have a healthy smile for life! If you haven’t already brought them in for a checkup, schedule one today!

Thank you for being our valued patients!

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.

Top image by Flickr user Sander van der Wel used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.