So many parents smile as they watch their newborn babies put their adorable little thumbs in their mouths for the first time. Thumb sucking is an extremely natural and automatic action for young children and it can be endearing to witness. When babies suck their thumb, it helps soothe them and allows them to explore the environment around them. But if sucking habits continue past the age of five or six, it’s possible that problems with their teeth can occur.
Overbite from Thumb Sucking
As children suck their thumb the sucking motion will slowly make changes to the mouth and teeth. The American Dentistry Association has detailed that danger of thumb sucking is that the front teeth may jut out, and the child’s bite will be open, not allowing the upper and lower front teeth to touch. These skeletal changes begin to affect the alignment of the permanent or secondary teeth. If the habit can be stopped soon enough, the bite may automatically correct itself. Your child’s dentist can monitor your child’s bite and refer you to an orthodontist if necessary.
Easy Ways to Stop Thumb Sucking
Most children that suck their thumbs as babies and toddlers will eventually stop without any issues. If parents simply ignore the behavior many times the child will realize that this behavior is not acceptable from social situations and peer pressure. As the child enters kindergarten and is still sucking their thumb, parents may have to jump in and help the behavior stop. If you are ready to help your child stop sucking their thumb what can you do to help? We recommend trying some of the following tips:
• Trying positive reinforcement is always the first option. Making a chart that helps track your child’s progress as they quit is always an excellent place to start. When they reach certain milestones in the process you can have a reward system set in place.
• Being encouraging and praising your child when they begin to stop will help them stay motivated as they seek to stop sucking their thumb.
• You may consider taking your child to a pediatric dentist. Here at Smile Reef, we love teaching children about the positive effects of stopping the habit. Pairing with a dental professional can help validate the parents request in the child’s eyes. While your child is on our office we can also teach them about oral hygiene, help prevent tooth decay, and monitor their dental growth and development.
• May children will suck their thumb when they are stressed out or bored. Recognizing these triggers can help you distract them during times when they typically would fall back into the habit of thumb sucking. Extra hugs if they are stressed out may help. If your child is bored, help them find an activity to keep their hands busy.
Pediatric Dental Care
We hope that if your children have picked up the habit of sucking their thumb, they will stop all on their own. If not, we hope that some of the tips we shared will help them stop sucking their thumb. Keeping your child’s bite from having negative consequences that can result from thumb sucking for too long can be a tough job. Dr. Jensen and our staff here at Smile Reef will be happy to help you and your children on the journey if assistance is needed! Contact us today.
Infants generally can start teething as early as six months of age, which is why dental care and proper hygiene is important, even at this young age. Though your children’s baby teeth are temporary, they are still susceptible to cavities that need to last. Conditioners such as early cavities, or baby bottle tooth decay, can harmfully impact their development. These first teeth, even more importantly, help ensure that the adult teeth come in correctly. Today, we at Smile Reef would like to elaborate on baby bottle tooth decay.
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
This is caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of liquids containing sugars to a child’s teeth. Though other teeth can be affected, it typically occurs on the upper front teeth. The most common culprits that contribute to baby bottle tooth decay include fruit juice, sodas, formula, and milk along with other sweetened drinks. The bacteria that causes plaque is fed due to these liquids pooling around the infant’s teeth and gums. Acid also attacks the teeth and gums every time a child consumes a sugary beverage. Tooth decay begins after numerous attacks. This condition can also occur with infants that are breast-fed who have prolonged feeding habits and children who frequently have their pacifier dipped in syrup, sugar, or honey. The risk increases significantly when infants sleep with sweet beverages left in their mouth.
Effects of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
If this condition is left untreated, it will lead to infection and pain. Additionally, if a tooth is severely decayed, it will require an extraction. Your child may develop poor eating habits, crooked/damaged adult teeth, or speech problems if their teeth are infected or lost too early.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Treatment
Treatment for baby bottle tooth decay is dictated by the child’s age, severity of the tooth decay, and other circumstances. If you catch the condition early enough, you can apply preventative techniques, and your child’s dentist will discuss treatment options. Early symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay are often shown with white spots on the baby’s teeth. Fluoride treatment or placing fluoride varnish at this stage can be used to re-mineralize all of the teeth. This process rebuilds enamel, an in a sense, reverses the decay at this earliest stage. Fluoride supplements might also be recommended. Additionally, you will need to change your baby’s diet and eating habits. Later stages of baby bottle tooth decay may indicate that the fluoride treatments will no longer be sufficient. Brown or black spots on the teeth, fever, swelling or irritability, which could indicate infection, bleeding or swollen gums, and bad breath are symptoms of a more severe case of baby bottle tooth decay. See a dentist as soon as possible if your child has any of these symptoms.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention
Implementing good oral hygiene at an early age will help stave off baby bottle tooth decay.
1) After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth.
2) When the first tooth comes in, start brushing their teeth with a soft bristled tooth brush without any toothpaste, or a fluoride-free one. Be sure the gums are cleaned and massaged where there are not any teeth.
3) Floss when baby’s teeth come in.
4) Ensure your baby is getting enough fluoride; if it is not in the water supply, ask your doctor about supplements.
5) Schedule a dental visit around their first birthday for a cleaning and checkup.
6) Limit sugary beverage exposure. Bottles should only be filled with water, milk, formula or electrolyte- enriched beverages for diarrhea treatment. Don’t expose young ones to soda.
7) Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth.
8) Don’t dip the pacifier in sweet coatings and limit sugary snacks.
Pediatric Dental Care in Las Vegas, Nevada
When your child is ready for their first dental exam or you have concerns about baby bottle tooth decay, call Smile Reef and schedule your appointment today!