South Sound Dental Care is dedicated to dental health for the entire family, including kids. We understand the importance of pediatric dental care, and how valuable it is to start our young ones off early with good dental hygiene and oral care habits. Many studies have emphasized the importance of this.
Pediatric Dental Facts
According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay. It affects 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17 year olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self image and achievement.
The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 51 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems. They will miss about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from pediatric dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made pediatric dental care a high priority.
Recommendations for Parents
We highly encourage the parents of our young patients to teach their children how to practice good dental hygiene. It is recommended the parents introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life – as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:
- Thoroughly clean your infant’s gums after each meal with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
- Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Teaching your child at age 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques and later about brushing and gentle flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
- Regular visits with the children’s dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth. Also checking for possible developmental problems in the teeth.
- Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about dentist visits. Don’t mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
- Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated. If it is not, discuss supplement options with your kid’s dentist or hygienist.
- Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth. Also asking about bottle tooth decay which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids.
Tips and Tricks
Stress in Children & Oral Health
Stress is a common problem and much discussion can be had about its effect on our overall health. This is because in today’s society we experience many demands due to work, money, family, etc. Stress is not something that only adults deal with. We may think of childhood as a time-of-life that is carefree and fun but this is not always the case.
Children deal with many things that cause them stress: school, family conflict, peers, academic pressures, and more. Oral health needs to be a concern if you have a child who is dealing with stress. Young years are critical years for the formation of teeth. Eating habits that include an excess of sugary foods will mean a high rate of decay. Stress can also cause a child to revert back to coping mechanisms such as thumb sucking. Bad habits due to stress can often compromise developing dentition.
Signs that your child is stressed:
- Headaches and stomach aches
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Abandoning friendships
- Regressive habits
- A change in eating habits
- Bullying and defiance
If you believe that your child is dealing with stress, don’t ignore it. Talk to him or her about the causes of the stress along with these other tips for managing stress:
- Encourage a healthy diet and adequate sleep
- Spend time with your child daily
- Don’t neglect wellness check-ups with your doctor and dentist
- Encourage them to keep a journal
- Seek help from a school counselor or mental health professional if needed
When acknowledged and addressed, stress can be controlled. Make sure you stay on top of stress with the tips outlined here and on top of proper oral hygiene. These include brushing and flossing every day and regular dentist check ups.
Thumbsucking & Dental Health in Children
Sucking on pacifiers, fingers, and other objects is a way that children find comfort and security and it often helps them fall asleep. It’s soothing and natural but at a certain point it can cause problems with the growth of their mouth and the alignment of their teeth.
To what extent thumbsucking will affect your child’s teeth is often determined by how intensely they suck. If their thumb is simply resting in their mouth they may have no dental issues at all. If your child however, is aggressively sucking his or her thumb, problems could develop with their primary teeth.
Most of the time children stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two and four. If thumbsucking does not stop or you are concerned about its effect on your child’s teeth, talk to the dentist. If the habit doesn’t subside on its own or with the tips below, the dentist may prescribe an unpleasant medication. The medication coats their thumb or a mouth appliance.
How can I get my child to stop sucking his thumb?
- Praise your child for not sucking.
- Since thumbsucking is often for comfort, work on the cause of anxiety that your child experiences.
- If your child is older, get them involved in the method chosen in order to stop the sucking.
- Get the dentist involved – have the dentist explain to your child the damage that thumbsucking will cause.
- You may need to even bandage the thumb or put a sock on their hand at night.
If you notice changes with your child’s teeth or are concerned about his or her habit that isn’t subsiding make an appointment to consult with the dentist to consider the best course of action.