When Should You Wean Your Baby or Toddler From Pacifiers, Sippy-Cups and Thumb-Sucking?

toddler sucking on sippy cupParents often use pacifiers, bottles, and sippy cups for the comfort that it offers. However, children often become dependent on the items, making it difficult to separate from the child. It is important for parents to know when to discontinue the use and help the baby or toddler mature and develop.

Dental professionals recommend limiting use of the pacifier by the age of two, which will avoid dental issues that can develop by age four. Babies tend to rely on a pacifier as the sucking motion creates a soothing effect that is calming and comforting. Although it can be used initially with babies, pacifiers can cause an overbite, speech impediments, and even disrupt normal chewing patterns. According to the American Dental Association, pacifiers can also cause tooth decay due to bacteria that is transferred to the mouth.

Thumb-sucking is another habit that is commonly developed by toddlers, as it continues the sucking habit and often replaces pacifiers. Although it is a convenient way of keeping a child happy, it can cause the top teeth to be pushed forward while the bottom teeth are pushed back. The habit can also lead to a disorder called an open bite in which the top and bottom front teeth do not meet even when the mouth is closed. Most of time patience and positive reinforcement can be used to wean a child from thumb sucking successfully, but in difficult cases, there are additional methods that can help such as covering the hands with gloves or using a substance on the thumb that does not taste good (be sure to check with your family dentist or physician for a recommended product).

As toddlers develop, sippy cups are often considered a helpful product to encourage independence with drinking. However, there are many drawbacks to using the product, which can include tooth decay and inappropriate swallowing or use of the tongue. The AAP Pediatric Nutrition Manual suggests that the use of sippy cups is discontinued by age two or three to avoid long-term oral problems that will have to be treated by your child’s dentist. The teeth can still be shifted with sippy cups in the same way that thumb sucking and pacifiers do, and they are even known to cause lisps. The relationship with sippy cups should be temporary and a mere transition to regular cups that are used by the child as they learn to eat and consume liquids on their own.

Summertime Snacks That Brighten Your Smile

It’s officially summer – the perfect time to help your teeth shine their very brightest. Healthy, bright teeth give you a confident smile that lights up your entire face. Practicing good oral hygiene is most important for healthy teeth, but did you know there are some basic summer time snacks that are not only healthy but can also help naturally whiten your teeth?

Here are 5 yummy summer snacks that will do the trick:

Pineapples contain the enzyme, Bromelain, which helps remove bacteria from your teeth and acts as a natural stain remover.

Strawberries contain Malic Acid, which acts as a natural whitener removing discoloration on the surface of your teeth.

Apples, carrots and celery are perfect crunchy snacks that increase saliva production, removing stain causing debris and acids that lead to decay.

Yogurt and cheese not only contain calcium that promotes strong teeth and bones, but also Lactic Acid which helps clean teeth.

Water helps rinse away acid and stain causing residue from food and beverages such as tea, coffee and wine.

Brushing and flossing twice a day and regularly visiting your family dentist help maintain your bright smile while preventing cavities and gum disease.  For adults and children alike, the American Dental Association recommends a check-up every six months.  Make an appointment today and our dentists will help determine a plan to help you achieve the beautiful smile you deserve.

Health Problems Tied To Gum Disease

There are many oral problems that can complicate an individual’s day to day life, but gum disease in particular can be very difficult to tackle. Besides the fact that gum disease can be very painful, there are more health problems that can result from it.

Gum Disease-A Brief Overview

Gum disease is a potentially debilitating condition that starts with the build-up of plaque and bacteria around the sufferer’s gum line. If it is not treated during its early stages, gum disease can cause “pockets” to start developing between the sufferer’s gums and teeth. Once this happens, plaque and bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Once the bacteria and plaque make their way into the bloodstream, they can move throughout the body until they finally reach the heart, thereby contributing to the formation of blood clots. Here are some other health problems tied to gum disease:

1. Heart Disease

Although evidence is not conclusive, many researchers and experts agree that there may be a connection between poor dental health that leads to gum disease and the onset of heart disease. Heart disease results from the progression of plaque build-up in the arteries, which constitutes a process of inflammation. Similarly, during the early stages of gum disease, the gums grow inflamed as bacteria takes over the mouth. (This process is referred to as gingivitis).

2. Pancreatic Cancer

Many researchers believe that there is a connection between gum disease and the onset of pancreatic cancer. Poor gum health can precipitate chronic inflammation which can subsequently promote cancer cell growth. In a study on the issue, it was found that people who had pancreatic cancer were twice as likely to have higher levels of antibodies for P. Gingivitis (the bacterium integral to gum disease).

Other potentially debilitating health conditions that are tied to gum disease include Alzheimer’s, stroke, pneumonia, and diabetes.

Preventive Care

To ensure that you are not susceptible to gum disease and the various health problems it can cause make sure you are aware of the preventive care options available to you. One of the most effective ways to prevent the onset of gum disease is to make regular visits to your family dentist. He or she can provide you with regular, professional teeth cleanings that prevent the build-up of potentially dangerous plaque and bacteria.  Additionally, your dentist can provide information and instructions on how to practice excellent dental care at home.

Conclusion

While the list of health conditions tied to gum disease is alarming, practicing preventive care can help avoid gum disease and the potentially problematic conditions it can lead to.  If you believe that you or a loved one has gum disease, be sure to consult with a trained medical professional.

What Parents Should Know About Fluoride

Children’s dentists will agree that it’s never too early to begin caring for your baby’s teeth. Early dental care can prevent a number of problems from occurring down the road. However, as with most things in a child’s life, oral care should be done in stages. This is especially true when it comes to using Fluoride.

Oral Care For Babies

Dentists for babies recommend using gauze to gently wipe your babies gums even before teeth come in.  Once the first tooth comes in, it is the perfect time to schedule his or her first check up. At this point you can also begin brushing your child’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water.

When To Start Using Fluoride Toothpaste?

The American Dental Association recommends that children begin using fluorinated toothpaste at the age of two. However, you should ask your family dentist about the appropriate time for your child to begin using fluoride.  Children should only use a pea-sized amount when brushing. Additionally, children under the age of six should be supervised while they are brushing with fluorinated toothpaste.

The main reason that fluoride is a concern for children who are under the age of six is because they are more likely to swallow the toothpaste. Swallowing the little bit of toothpaste that is used for brushing is not likely to cause any harm.  However, over time, this can lead to a condition called dental fluorosis.  This is a condition that occurs when the teeth are repeatedly exposed to high amounts of fluoride when they are developing. It causes discoloration of the enamel.

The Benefits Of Fluoride

  • Helps Reduce The Risk Of Tooth Decay
  • Fluoride makes the teeth more resistant to acid attacks. This acid comes from the sugar and bacteria inside of the mouth and it triggers tooth decay. That is why many dentists also recommend that children get fluoride treatments during their dental visits.
  • Reverse Early Tooth Decay
  • Not only can fluoride prevent tooth decay, but it can also prevent tooth decay from progressing. Many dentists agree that fillings are not always required for early tooth decay.

Children’s Dental Health Month

From infancy to our elder years, good oral hygiene has a significant effect on the health of our entire body.  By beginning routine dental practices from infancy, children grow up with good habits that bring many rewards throughout their lifetime. Children’s Dental Health Month is the perfect time for parents and children to brush up on their dental health knowledge. Here are a few important points to remember:

  • Your family dentist is your partner in good health. Make sure to schedule regular checkups as this allows your dentist to perform thorough cleanings as well as thorough exams that can help detect health issues.  Remember to ask questions during your visits. Your dentist is a great source of information and can help you establish a proper and enjoyable oral hygiene routine for you and your children.
  • One common misconception is that baby teeth are not very important because they eventually fall out and are replaced by adult teeth. As temporary placeholders, baby teeth play an important role in the alignment of permanent teeth. Cavities on baby teeth can affect the gum tissue which can harm future adult teeth. That is why children’s dentists recommend you start cleaning your baby’s gums with a soft wash cloth and water even before their teeth come in. When the first tooth comes in, use a soft toothbrush and water or non-fluoridated toothpaste. At about age 2 you can begin to use a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste. It is also important for parents to brush their child’s teeth until the child displays the ability to complete the task on their own.
  • Dentists for kids agree that sugary drinks like fruit juices and soft drinks should never be given to young children in bottles or sippy cups. Fruit drinks, like apple and orange juice, contain relatively large amounts of sugar that can lead to tooth decay. You should especially avoid giving your child these drinks at bed time.

Celebrating Children’s Dental Health Month is a great way to involve your family in positive steps towards beautiful, healthy teeth and gums. Children who grow up with good oral habits find that continuing good dental practices as adults comes easily.  At EP Dentistry 4 Kids, it is our pleasure to partner with you and help meet your family’s dental needs. Feel free to contact us for an appointment.

7 New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthier Smile

Making a list of resolutions or goals is a great way to start the New Year.  It’s the perfect time to resolve to let go of old, bad habits and take on new, healthier ones.  One common topic you will find on many lists is “health”.  While on that topic, why not include resolutions for a healthier smile this year?  Studies have shown that good oral health helps promote good overall health.  In the same way, diseases in the mouth can lead to other health issues. That is why it is especially important to maintain good oral hygiene.  For this new year, resolve to be better to your mouth.  Use these 7 tips to help you meet your goal:

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

It’s no secret that eating fruits and veggies is important for your overall health. Good nutrition helps improve the entire immune system and also helps fight common oral disorders, including gum disease.  Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. Crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery also help clean plaque from teeth and freshen your breath.

Limit Your Coffee, Tea & Red Wine

Beverages like coffee, tea and red wine are known to stain teeth. Some stains can be superficial and polished off during your scheduled cleaning with your family dentist, but drinking these beverages frequently can also cause internal staining of the tooth enamel. Limiting these drinks and rinsing with water to help get the dark liquids off the teeth will reduce staining as well as risk of decay.

Drink More Water

Drinking plenty of water comes with many health benefits. Water keeps your body hydrated, energizes your muscles, and cleanses your body of toxins. Water also contains zero calories and unlike acidic and sugary drinks that are harmful to your teeth, it helps prevent decay by flushing your teeth of food and acid.

Brush Twice a Day

Brushing twice a day is essential for removing plaque from your teeth. Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth on a daily basis and contains millions of bacteria. The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars in your food and beverages producing acids that eat away at the tooth enamel.  Not brushing regularly allows plaque to sit on the teeth and causes the enamel to break down, eventually resulting in a cavity.  That is why it is so important that you brush twice daily.  Be sure to use a soft bristled toothbrush; stiffer bristles and aggressive brushing causes gums to recede and can wear enamel away from the teeth.

Floss Daily

Both brushing and flossing are equally important for good oral health. Plaque that is not removed daily by flossing between teeth can eventually harden into tartar. As the tartar, plaque and bacteria continue to increase, the gum tissue can become red, swollen and possibly bleed when you brush your teeth. This is called gingivitis, an early stage of gum (periodontal) disease.

Visit Your Family Dentist Twice A Year

By seeing your dentist at least twice a year, you can help prevent dental health problems before they cause discomfort or require more comprehensive or expensive treatment.  During your visit your dentist not only performs a deep cleaning to remove stains and tartar from your teeth but also screens for any other possible conditions.

Don’t Delay On Dental Treatment

A small cavity, left untreated, can easily grow into a large tooth abscess and require a root canal and a crown rather than a small filling.  Treating tooth decay early means that smaller and less invasive treatments will be required. This helps maintain the structure and stability of the remaining tooth, not to mention keeps treatment costs lower. If left untreated, decay can also spread to other teeth and may cause infections throughout the rest of the body.

6 Reasons to Use Your Dental Insurance Before the End of the Year

Did you know that you could actually save hundreds of dollars by using your dental benefits before the end of the year? While some dental insurance plans run on a fiscal year, most run on a calendar year. If your dental insurance plan is on a calendar year, these 6 reasons will show you why you should make a dental appointment now.

1. Yearly Maximum
The yearly maximum is the most money that the dental insurance plan will pay for your dental work within one full year. This amount varies by insurance company, but the average is around $1,000 per year, per person. The yearly maximum usually renews every year (on January 1 if your plan is on a calendar year). If you have unused benefits, these will not rollover.

2. Deductible
The deductible is the amount of money that you must pay to your dentist out of pocket before your insurance company will pay for any services. This fee varies from one plan to another.  However, the average deductible for a dental insurance plan is usually around $50 per year. Your deductible also starts again when your plan rolls over.

3. Premiums
If you are paying your dental insurance premiums every month, you should be using your benefits. Even if you don’t need any dental treatment, you should always have your regular dental cleanings to help prevent and detect any early signs of cavities, gum disease, oral cancer and other dental problems.

4. Fee Increases / Changes in Coverage
Another reason to use your benefits before the end of the year are possible fee increases. Some policies raise the out of pocket costs and / or lower the covered benefits at the beginning of the year.

5. Dental Problems Can Worsen
By delaying dental treatment, you are risking more extensive and expensive treatment down the road. What may be a simple cavity now, could turn into a root canal later.

6. Use Up Your Existing FSA Contributions
Another good reason to take care of dental work now is to spend any remaining balance in your flexible spending account (FSA). This is an account that you establish through your employer, and that you may have elected to have some of your pre-tax pay put into. If you don’t use all of your FSA contributions by the end of the year, you lose them.

Schedule your appointment now to ensure you are maximizing your benefits!

Visit EPD4K.com today!

Baby Tooth Decay: It’s Possible & Preventable

Baby teeth may be temporary, but the care you give them can have long lasting effects. Baby teeth are considered place holders for adult teeth. If they are lost early, it can lead to future spacing issues of permanent teeth. In addition, early tooth loss due to decay can lead to poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth and can even damage future adult teeth. Taking preventative measures early on is key to a lifetime of good dental health.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Believe it or not, letting your baby go to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice can cause decay. This is known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. The frequent and prolonged exposure of drinks that contain sugar, including baby formula and milk, leads to decay. Why? Because during sleep less saliva is produced and these liquids are able to sit on your baby’s gums and teeth as they sleep. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid that attacks the teeth.

  • Avoid giving your baby milk or juice at bedtime. Use water or a pacifier as good alternatives.  Also, avoid dipping the pacifier in sugar or honey.
  • Avoid sugary drinks in general and limit juice and other beverages to mealtimes instead of allowing your baby to have bottles or sippy cups throughout the day.
  • Transition to a drinking cup as soon as your child is able. Drinking from a cup is less likely to cause liquid to collect around teeth.

Bacteria Passed From Mom

Tooth decay can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. Because bacteria can be transferred through saliva, there are some things that mom’s and caregivers should be careful not to do.

  • Avoid sharing anything that would transfer saliva including cups, spoons, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Do not clean a pacifier with your mouth.

Oral Hygiene For Babies

Even before the first tooth erupts, you can begin practicing good oral hygiene on your baby’s mouth to ward off any attacks on their future teeth.

  • Gently wipe down your baby’s gums at least twice a day with a soft, damp washcloth. This will keep bacteria from clinging to your baby’s gums, which can damage their baby teeth as they come in.
  • When the first baby teeth start to come in, you can begin to use a toothbrush and water to clean the teeth. Make sure to use a soft brush with a small head and large handle. Brush gently around the teeth, including the front and back.
  • Schedule an appointment with a children’s dentist when your baby’s first tooth comes in.
  • At about age 1, you can begin using a pea-sized amount of a non-fluoridated toothpaste. Wait to use fluoride toothpaste until your child is at least 2 years old.
  • Brush your baby’s teeth until he or she is old enough to hold the brush. Continue to supervise the process until your child can rinse and spit without assistance.

5 Steps To Help Your Child Overcome Fear Of Dentists

A visit to the dentist may seem routine to many, but for children who fear the dentist, it is anything but routine.  Fear of the unknown and/or fear of pain are very common fears among kids and are often the reason why they might cry or act out when it’s time to visit the dentist.  Fortunately, parents are not alone in their quest to ease their child’s fear of the dentist.  Most children’s dentists and their staff are trained to work with kids and know how to help them cope with their fear.  Parents can also help prepare their child at home using these five recommended steps:

Talk ­­Teeth: Make oral health a common topic in your home. Picture books and cartoon dental videos are great resources.  Also, during your daily and nightly routines of brushing and flossing, have fun role playing “going to the dentist”.

Start Early: Children’s dentists recommend that you start taking your child to the dentist when their first tooth comes in (around 1 year old). These early visits will often consist of quick check-ups and gentle cleanings, which are great way to introduce your child to kid’s dentistry.

Schedule A Pre-Visit: A pre-visit to the dentist is a great way to familiarize your child with the dentist’s office without any overwhelming exams or procedures that same day.  Meeting the staff, seeing the fun environment and getting answers to questions can help ease any fears, making the actual appointment much more pleasant.

Leave The Details To The Experts: When preparing your child for their first visit to the dentist, keep the explanation positive and simple.  Let the trained staff and children’s dentist explain procedures and treatment to your child. You might want to say something simple like: “The dentist is going to check your smile to make sure your teeth are strong, healthy and clean. Avoid negative words like shot or pain.

Discuss The Option Of Sedation With The Dentist: Some children need more help relaxing to allow the proper amount of time for their treatment.  When more extensive work is needed, sedation can especially be a great benefit.  There are several options and methods for sedation for children. Your child’s dentist can explain these options and recommend the appropriate one for your child.

Cosmetic Dentistry for Children, or Not?

Every parent wants their child to feel good about themselves. No parent wants to see their child hide their smile. Children only smile when they feel confident. From fractures to discolored teeth, children can lose confidence. The older they get, they may be subjected to being teased.

Good oral habits can help eliminate the need for many cosmetic corrections. Sometimes, however, some children have dental deficiencies that need medical treatment. Cosmetic dentistry on children is now becoming increasingly common. But, many may argue that children are too young for cosmetic surgery.

Microabrasion: A Solution to Discolored Teeth

before microabrasion

This treatment is a great option for spotted or discolored teeth according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Some children and teens may have had some injury trauma or used certain medication that causes their tooth to darken or lighten in spots that are very noticeable.

Over-the-counter whitening toothpastes, although great for normal use, will not give results with these deeper stains. Sometimes, bleaching agents may alleviate this problem, but then sometimes your child needs something a little deeper such as microabrasion.

after microabrasion

Using an abrasive and mild acid, the pediatric dentist removes microscopic bits of enamel. This conservative treatment removes very little tooth structure and is much more affordable than bonding, veneers or crowns. This treatment works better on darker stains than lighter stains.

Fractured Teeth

fractured teeth

There are several ways to restore a fractured or chipped tooth as the result of a trauma that will match the original. Bonding is the most common solution for children’s fractured teeth. It is a generic term that is used to describe the use of dental adhesive materials, including veneers, sealants and crowns that are normally light cured on teeth.

Bonding materials, also called composite resins, are tooth-colored plastics applied to the tooth, formed in shape and hardened with light or a chemical process. Treatments are fast, comfortable and affordable, and can last for several years, but can cause some loss of tooth enamel. Bonding and veneer treatments usually take more than just one visit to complete because they are custom made in a dental lab. Parents should note that bonded teeth are not as strong as the original and can be damaged easily.

fixed teeth

There are several ways to restore a fractured or chipped tooth as the result of a trauma that will match the original. Bonding is the most common solution for children’s fractured teeth. It is a generic term that is used to describe the use of dental adhesive materials, including veneers, sealants and crowns that are normally light cured on teeth.

Bonding materials, also called composite resins, are tooth-colored plastics applied to the tooth, formed in shape and hardened with light or a chemical process. Treatments are fast, comfortable and affordable, and can last for several years, but can cause some loss of tooth enamel. Bonding and veneer treatments usually take more than just one visit to complete because they are custom made in a dental lab. Parents should note that bonded teeth are not as strong as the original and can be damaged easily.

Porcelain crowns are stronger than the other cosmetic choices and can last for many years with good dental health habits. Crowns are typically made of tooth colored porcelain or plastic resin overlaid on metal and custom made. They are more costly than other treatments and require a significant amount of removal of the tooth structure in order for them to fit into place.

Braces

before braces

With regular checkups, your pediatric dentist can identify crowded or crooked teeth and actively help guide new teeth, preventing more extensive orthodontic treatment later. Many benefits can come from having straight teeth that include, but are not limited to mere appearance. Not only are straight teeth easier to clean, making it less likely to experience decay and gum disease in the future, bite problems can be corrected, prevent the need for tooth extractions, and self-esteem can be boosted.

after braces

It is not recommended, however, that your child wear braces before their permanent teeth come in. Unlike other treatment choices that require shorter periods of time, braces must be worn over the years as the child’s mouth grows and changes. A commitment to regular dental visits and good home oral care is imperative. Orthodontic treatment is a significant financial investment; however, dental insurance may cover at least part of it because it offers important health benefits.

Fillings

past fillings

todays fillings

Once, silver-colored fillings reminded one that they had many cavities to fill; now that is part of the past. Today, many dentists opt for a more aesthetic option using a tooth-colored filling or crown that blends in with the teeth, making it almost impossible for anyone to see a mouth full of metal.

Should Children Have Cosmetic Dentistry?

Many parents ask if it is appropriate for their child to have cosmetic dentistry and what guidelines they should follow.

Many pediatric dentists recommend that it is best to wait until all the permanent teeth are in before making any cosmetic changes unless the problem is causing significant emotional or physical distress in your child.

Although bleaching in less concentrated solutions is quite safe for kids, it still may cause teeth sensitivity or irritated gums in your child. Parents must tell your kids that although whitening is nice, it cannot take place of daily brushing and flossing. Whitening does not prevent tooth decay.

Veneers have large margins, which can discolor from foods, liquids, and bacterial activity so good oral hygiene is important. Foods that can stain may have to be eliminated or taken less frequently.

Sit down with your dentist and discuss the reasons for any procedure to weigh the pros and cons and see if it is absolutely necessary for your child or can be avoided altogether. All options should be discussed before performing any dental procedures. The best ways to prevent your child from reaching this point is maintaining good oral health by brushing, flossing and visiting your pediatric dentist regularly.