THE SMILE OF a happy child is one of the best things in the world. Unfortunately, dental caries (tooth decay) is the most commonchronic disease of childhood. We want those smiles to stay as healthy as possible, which is why we’re dedicating a blog post to baby teeth dental care.
Baby Teeth Matter
Because baby teeth are temporary, you might be tempted to think they’re not very important, but don’t fall into that trap. Healthy baby teeth are essential for speech development, building self esteem, promoting good nutrition through proper chewing, and saving space in the jaw for the development and positioning of adult teeth.
Avoid Sipping On Juice Or Milk
The harmful oral bacteria in our mouths that cause tooth decay love sugar. Every time we eat or drink something sugary, they have a party, and it takes about half an hour for our saliva to wash away the leftover sugars. However, when we give our kids sippy cups or bottles of milk or juice to drink over a long period of time, their saliva doesn’t have time to wash away the residue and their oral bacteria gets to party nonstop.
This is such a common problem that it has a name: bottle rot. You can protect your child’s teeth from bottle rot by only giving them milk or juice at mealtimes and only giving them bottles or sippy cups of water to sip on while they play or when you put them to bed.
Thumbsucking And Pacifiers
It is perfectly natural and healthy for babies and toddlers to suck on their thumbs or fingers or use a pacifier. Doing so helps them feel safe and happy, and most children will stop on their own around age four. However, if they keep going after that, it can begin to impact their dental alignment, creating problems like an open bite. Come see us if you’re concerned about your child’s thumbsucking or pacifier habit.
One great way to give your child’s teeth extra protection from cavities is sealants. These are typically applied to the chewing surfaces of molars. They cover deep pits and grooves that are so difficult to keep clean. The sealing process is quick and easy, with no discomfort, and the teeth will be protected for years.
Good Oral Health Habits
No matter what your child eats or drinks, if they have sealants, and if they grow out of using a pacifier or sucking their thumb on their own, nothing can replace good oral health habits like daily brushing and flossing. While your child is too young to do it themselves, you can do it for them and with them and explain why it’s so important for keeping their teeth healthy and happy.
Don’t forget that one of your best resources for keeping your child’s teeth healthy is the dentist! With regular checkups, we can make sure that everything is going well and answer any questions you or your child have about good dental care.
OUR JAWS DO A LOT of work throughout the day, opening and closing over and over so that we can do ordinary things like talk, eat, and yawn. Ideally, all of the anatomy involved functions as it should and we can perform these tasks without trouble, but many people struggle with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders because something has gone wrong.
The Anatomy Of The Temporomandibular Joints
The joints on both sides of our jaw, located between the ear and the cheekbone, consists of three parts: the socket (part of the temporal bone), the ball (the top part of the jawbone), and a small, fibrous disk that acts as a cushion between the two. The ball and socket are covered in cartilage to help keep movement smooth and comfortable.
If the disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment, if the cartilage on the bone is worn away by arthritis, or if there is a traumatic injury to the joint, a TMJ disorder may be the result.
Clicking or popping sounds in the joint when chewing, or a grating sensation
Pain or tenderness of the jaw
Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
Difficult or painful chewing
Aching pain around the face
Aching pain in and around the ear
Difficulty opening or closing the jaw due to locking of the joint
Tips For Relieving TMJ Pain
If you’re dealing with TMJ pain, there are a few things you can do to reduce it on your own:
Keep yawning and chewing to a minimum.
When possible, avoid extreme jaw movements like from singing or yelling.
If you have to yawn, control it by pressing a fist beneath your chin.
When resting, hold your teeth slightly apart rather than fully closed. This is the natural resting position for the jaw, even when the lips are closed.
Eat soft foods that require little to no chewing.
Treatment For TMJ Disorders
In most cases, TMJ pain is temporary and goes away on its own after a week or two, but not always. If it doesn’t, and especially if it gets worse, then it likely needs treatment, which varies depending on the cause.
These treatments include ice packs, exercise, and moist heat, medication, and splints, but if none of them are enough, then measures like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound treatment, or trigger-point injections may be necessary. If all else fails, jaw surgery may be recommended.
Talk To Us About Your Jaw Pain
If you’ve been experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw or difficulty opening and closing it completely, give us a call or stop by so that we can look for the cause and get you on the path to being pain-free.
YOU MIGHT REMEMBER a little bit about pH from a science class you took years ago in middle school or high school. Even if you don’t, that’s okay; it’s time for a refresher course because pH plays a major role in our oral health.
The Basics (And Acidics) Of pH
We could go into some really complicated things about hydrogen ions, but the important thing to know is that a pH of 7 is neutral — neither acidic nor basic. For example, water has a pH of 7. As the numbers get smaller than 7, the substance becomes more acidic,and as they get larger than 7 (up to 14), it becomes more alkaline or basic. Make sense? Good. Now let’s look at what this has to do with our mouths.
Acid Versus Tooth Enamel
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, so it’s pretty tough. It is, however, highly susceptible to acid erosion. All it takes is an environment of pH 5.5 or lower for the enamel to begin dissolving.
There are many ways our teeth can be exposed to acid. The most obvious is when we eat or drink something sour or tart because we can actually taste the acid. When we consume something sugary or starchy, oral bacteria eats the leftovers stuck between our teeth and produces acid as a waste product. Acid reflux and vomiting also expose our teeth to stomach acid, which is very strong.
Saliva: The First Line Of Defense
The best natural defense our teeth have against acids is saliva, which has a pH slightly above 7. Saliva washes food particles away and helps keep oral bacteria populations in check. This is why dry mouth is such a dangerous problem for oral health. The less saliva we have, the more vulnerable our teeth are.
Sipping soda or snacking throughout the day is also a problem for our teeth, because saliva needs time to neutralize our mouths afterward, and constantly introducing more acid makes that much harder.
A More Alkaline Diet Will Help Your Teeth
A great way we can help out our saliva in the fight to protect our teeth, aside from the usual methods of daily brushing and flossing and regular dental appointments, is to eat fewer acidic foods and trade them for alkaline ones. That means adding in more fruits and veggies and leaving off some of the breads, dairy, and meats — and we should definitely cut back on soda and other sugary treats.
We Can Fight Enamel Erosion Together!
If you’d like more tips for how to protect your tooth enamel, just ask us! We want you to have all the tools you need to keep your teeth healthy and strong so that they will last a lifetime.
DO YOU REMEMBER losing your first tooth? Maybe it happened later than for your classmates, or maybe you fell down on the playground and it came out before you knew it was loose. However it happens, losing that first tooth is a big deal for every kid. As parents, we want to make sure it’s a positive experience.
The Right Mindset Is Key
Even though losing our baby teeth is a perfectly normal part of growing up, it can be scary for a little kid, especially when it’s their first loose tooth and they aren’t used to the process yet. We can make it easier by helping them get in the right mindset: losing a tooth means they’re a big kid now! If you can help your child focus on how cool and impressive it is to lose a baby tooth, rather than how it might hurt a little bit, they’ll hopefully be less afraid and more excited.
How Parents Can Help With A Loose Tooth
Helping with a loose tooth isn’t just about mindset, it’s also about technique. Chasing your child around with pliers is not the best way to handle the situation, and neither is that old “I just want to feel it!” trick where you pull the tooth instead. A couple of good things to do are to encourage your child to gently wiggle the tooth on their own with a clean finger, their tongue, or a tissue. It’s also a good idea to let them set the pace and only help them pull the tooth if they ask you to.
Another way to make it fun is to think of an interesting way to pull the tooth!
Find Creative Ways To Reward Success
The Tooth Fairy is the standard way of giving a child a good incentive to take care of those loose teeth, but there’s no reason to reward them the same way everyone else does. Maybe your child would be more motivated by the promise of a trip to the ice cream shop or getting a new toy. Think of something your child would really appreciate.
Still Have Concerns? Bring Them To Us!
If your child is still afraid of losing a tooth after you’ve done everything you can to make it a fun and exciting rite of passage for them, then leave it to us! As a pediatric dental practice, we specialize in working with children. You can also bring them to us if their teeth aren’t becoming loose when they should or if a loose tooth doesn’t seem to want to come out.
We can’t wait to hear about your child’s loose tooth adventures!
BREAKFAST MAY BE THE MOST IMPORTANT meal of the day, but for many of us it’s also the most unhealthy. A bad breakfast is not only bad for our teeth, but makes us feel sluggish before we even get out the door—setting us on a track for unhealthy choices throughout the day.
How Often Do You Eat Breakfast On-The-Go?
We usually don’t give ourselves time for healthy breakfast options. We grab something handy and rush out the door. Donuts, starchy muffins, and sugary pastries gulped down with acidic orange juice or tooth-staining coffee aren’t exactly tooth friendly. Even our morning cereals may contain more decay-causing sugar than candy bars!
3 Smart Breakfast Tips To Protect Your Teeth
Choose whole grains. They’re better for you, and easier on your teeth than refined starches.
Yogurt naturally neutralizes acids on teeth. Adding granola, chopped nuts, or fruit can make your breakfast more nutritious and delicious!
If you eat acidic fruits, juices or smoothies, rinse your mouth with water when finished.
What’s good for your teeth is usually what’s good for your body. Here are some great menu ideas:
whole grain, sugar-light cereal with calcium-rich milk
scrambled eggs and whole-wheat toast
yogurt with granola or muesli
What’s your favorite quick-and-healthy breakfast? Share in the comments below. We love to hear from you.
Thanks for being a valued part of our practice family!