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.
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.
Tricks To Help Your Kids Brush Their Teeth
Getting your children started early with habits associated with good oral hygiene is very important. However, doing this can be a bit of a challenge. Of course, even as adults, we find brushing a chore. But, when we’re trying to instill the importance of brushing into the minds of our young ones we want to lead by example. This includes attacking the “chore” with enthusiasm! Here are some tips for getting your kids to brush their teeth:
– Set the example by being happy about brushing your teeth. If you make it look fun, your kids will want to do it too.
– Get matching toothbrushes and let them copy you.
– Buy electric toothbrushes to add more entertainment value to brushing.
– Tell them a story. Give them a reason to brush their teeth with a story that explains why it’s so important
– Use a dissolving agent, which can be found at pharmacies, to show them the plaque on their teeth.
– Let your children pick out their own toothpaste.
– Have your kids brush their teeth and then have them brush their dolls or stuffed animal’s teeth.
– Make a lot of bubbles and have a bubble-making contest with brushing. Whoever creates the most bubbles is getting their teeth the cleanest.
– Give them a timer and have them be in charge of setting the timer and brushing until it goes off.
– Praise them when they brush for two whole minutes.
Tips For Helping Your Kids Floss Regularly
So your kid keeps getting cavities due to lack of flossing…
Let’s face it: trying to convince your child to floss regularly can be a daunting task. Unfortunately for you, the parent, a child’s resistance to flossing can cause more stress and eventually a higher cost in dental care. However, with a little understanding and some help along the way, your children should be able to become expert flossers in no time! Here is a short, simple, and effective list of tips for encouraging your youngsters to floss!
- Lead by example. This is a no-brainer as children imitate what they see, especially when it’s the behavior of a parent. A good way to implement this is to have parent/child flossing times daily.
- Teach the tricks. Not only is learning to floss an uncomfortable experience for the most part, it can be difficult to learn proper technique without proper instruction. Take the opportunity to show your child tips and tricks to achieve better results.
- Start them early. Dental experts agree that optimal dental hygiene should be introduced even prior to a child’s teeth coming in. Since this list is specific to flossing, teeth will need to be in place. However, once the pattern and feel are set in their young years, making the switch to flossing on their own will be easier for them to make.
- Make it fun. There are literally thousands of kid-friendly dental accessories widely available. Purchase some silly floss, cartoon toothbrushes, bubblegum toothpaste, and light up brushing timers. These types of accessories will lend a fun feel to an otherwise mundane task.
- Track their progress. Set weekly or monthly tracking papers for your child to fill in whenever they finish flossing each day. This will allow them to have a visual aid and reminder to floss daily. It will also provide you with a sense of relief, knowing they are properly maintaining their teeth.
- Offer exam incentives. If your child has been bugging you for a new toy that you would not buy otherwise, offer it as an incentive after their next dental visit. Reiterate the point that proper flossing contributes to no cavities and without cavities they can earn their new toy.
Will Your Kids Need Braces?
About 45 percent of children will need braces according to orthodontists. This percentage is based on functional problems. Up to 75 percent could benefit from braces to straighten their teeth or to improve the shape of their face.
The two most common problems are crowded teeth and jaw misalignment (overbite and underbite). Most of the time we think about fixing these problems with braces to improve appearance. But there are other very important reasons as well:
- Bite and chew more effectively
- Better speech
- Much easier to clean teeth
- Less pressure on gums equals a healthier mouth
Braces cost between $4,000 and $8,000. Some insurance companies provide partial coverage and others don’t provide it at all. So when looking to the future and asking yourself whether your kids will likely need braces, you’ll want to consider the statistics and budget accordingly.
When the time comes, if your kids end up having severely crooked teeth the answer is an easy one – yes they definitely need them. Otherwise you’ll weigh the benefits and cost and consult with your dentist or orthodontist in order to make the best decision.