kids dental

Non-Nutritive Oral Habits

September 4th, 2019

Non-Nutritive Oral Habits

Learn with Dr. Garrett about non-nutritive oral habits and what those tendencies can mean for your child’s future dental health!

So, what is considered a non-nutritive sucking habit?

A non-nutritive sucking habit means that a child is placing something whether it be a pacifier, blanket, fingers, toys, etc. in their mouth without a food nutrition benefit.

Why do kids suck their thumb and use a pacifier and is it normal for them to do this?

A  majority of the time there is a negative connotation associated with children sucking their thumb because of the orthodontic issues that can come about later. However, it actually is a very normal habit for kids and it can even happen as early as the womb. For some kids, it is a self soothing thing and it’s desirable as a way to cope.

This habit actually gives them a positive endorphin feedback, which is why it can become addictive and they can start to use it in a non- coping way and rely on it for too long. Therefore, as long as it is monitored, it is not harmful to your children’s dental health. 

What are the negative effects of a non-nutritive sucking habit?

The oral ramifications of these habits is that whenever you place a thumb or another non food item in the mouth it applies either a biting or sucking force that is irregular to their teeth. It throws off the dental balance and can compress or flare the skeletal alignment and depending on how frequent the kids do it and the duration they do it, it can be a profound amount of force.

If kids are employing non-nutritive habits for an extended period of time, it applies the same sort of consistent shifting force that normal orthodontics like braces would. The difference is that it is not controlled so you have no handle on where the teeth are going to go or what they are going to do.

When should you stop allowing your kids to have non-nutritive sucking habits and does the amount of the habit have anything to do with when they should stop?

Depending on the individual child, if they are still partaking in non-nutritive habits past the age of three, but it is a very infrequent thing and it’s a short duration, that is not particularly harmful. However, if you have a child who is doing it for a long period of time and you are starting to see issues with their teeth then you should do your best to deter them from their non-nutritive habit no matter their age.

What are some techniques parents can use to stop their kids non-nutritive sucking habits?

Parents can often feel pressure to get their children to stop and they tend to get frustrated, but it is hard sometimes to force the child to stop with punitive approaches because they usually just don’t work that good.

What tends to work the best is the buy in approach which assumes that by the age of three most kids have enough language that you are able to have a dialogue with them and explain why this is an important negative consequence. Positively reinforcing them, reward systems, and prizes, are ways that you can encourage your child to break the habit and even if the child doesn’t stop right away, you are laying a foundation of why it is important for the child to stop. Then later once the child starts to buy in and they understand why they need to stop, then you can start introducing punitive approaches before it gets so far that you have to introduce nail polish on the fingertips or other tactics to get them to stop.

Are there any special things you can do for kids that have sensory issues or any type of neurological dysfunction?

Sometimes kids with certain oral sensory or neurological issues will have oral habits that are much more deeply rooted and they’re hard even when the child is aware to get them to stop because the child may feel like they need to do it or they can’t help themselves. In this case, occupational therapy is sometimes beneficial to help the child work through the issue more specifically and intentionally than what a parent typically has the training or time to do, but this is a case by case solution. 

Any other advice?

Ideally, yes we want to stop the non-nutritive oral habits and yes, there are some consequences, but at the end of the day, none of that stuff is that big of a deal. Even kids with pretty profound dental change at three will get some self correction and limited orthodontic treatment can fix it, so don’t stress yourself out about it. With a little intentionality you can monitor the habit and try to stay on top of it!

Trying out the Latest Electric Toothbrushes with JJ & Lex

June 25th, 2019

Tryout the latest electric toothbrushes with JJ & Lex

 

Pediatric Dental Associates & Orthodontics had two special visitors for a special task: Trying out the latest kids electric toothbrushes.

Here are their reviews of the following electric toothbrushes based on functionality and fun.

Please note: Some of these brushes have replaceable heads or must be replaced every three months. You can buy these brushes at your local store.

  • Super Mario / Marvel Adventures Arm and Hammer Spinbrush: This electric toothbrush is soft and not loud. It will help clean your teeth very well. 
  • Batman / Despicable Me Colgate Spinbrush: Press the top button to turn on this electric toothbrush. It is loud and the top part spins very fast. The bottom part doesn’t spin at all. It vibrates your teeth a bit more. 
  • Bumblebee / Black Panther Firefly: This electric toothbrush is not very loud. It comes with a neat cap. It doesn’t spin, it only vibrates. Con: It feels very hard on the teeth. 
  • Pro-health Oral-B: This electric toothbrush looks very cool.  It has a rubber handle with a good grip and the head is very soft and feels very nice. The brush has a plus and minus button and spins really fast. A plus, the brush is not very loud. 
  • Auto-brush kit (ages 8+): This electric toothbrush comes with a charger and also has music. Definitely recommended. 

So what toothbrush was JJ & Lex's favorite?

JJ AND LEX CHOSE…THE AUTO-BRUSH KIT AS THEIR FAVORITE!

The auto-brush is designed to cut brushing time, so we do not professionally recommend it because it doesn't remove plaque as well as a traditional brush. However, kids love them. Whatever is working for you is fine. Help your child to maintain healthy oral habits by allowing your child to find a brush they want to use. 

Have questions on toothbrushes? Check out our recent blog post on different tooth brushes and how to choose the best on for your child.

TIPs

  • The right toothbrush for your child is the one they will actually use.
  • If you have an HSA or FSA they will cover electric toothbrushes within our practice.

Road Trip Snack Ideas for Kids

June 3rd, 2019

 

LONG DRIVES

Let’s say you’re in a car with your kids for multiple hours. Limiting the sugar will help keep your children on track, help their teeth, and keep them from being super hyper in the car. Some examples of snacks we recommend for road trips are:

  • Bananas
  • Slim Jim’s
  • Fruits
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Pop-corn snacks
  • Graham Crackers
  • Beef Jerky

Try to limit the sticky foods. Avoid fruit snacks when possible! We are seeing a rise in cavities between their teeth and this could be a result of these types of snacks. They can cause future decay if your child is not flossing.

SNACK PORTION CONTROL

Portion control is healthy for your child’s teeth and body. Any of the following snacks can be broken down to save money, or even bought as pre-packed serving sizes. There are even snack sized bags that are smaller than sandwich bags that are perfect for portion control. You can also buy some cute snack pack reusable containers. Pre-packaged items would include:

  • Pre-portioned 20 pack of Chips-A-Hoy or Teddy Grahams
  • Lunchables work great, too. Make your own lunchables at home.
  • Goldfish
  • Grapes (keep in a cooler with cheeses, fruits, and drinks)
  • Pretzels
  • Cheeses
  • Almonds

The more prepared you are, the better you will be able to control what your child is eating.

FUN TRAVEL TIPS

  • Between the Seat (USB charger for additional charging ports)
  • Wet wipes
  • Bathroom sized trash bags
  • Fun activities (Rubik’s Cube, books, Card games, Grab and Go Games: Connect Four, Clue, Battle Ship)
  • Crayola Create and Color set (avoid crayons, they melt)

ORAL HEALTH ON THE ROAD
If you’re prepared with the snacks that you need for the trip, you will help your child’s oral hygiene as well as keeping their “grazing” habits under control. Set times for snacks to avoid over eating from boredom. Try to stay on track with your child’s brushing routine.

Need more tips and tricks for oral care? Check out the rest of our blog.

PDAO'S Tips for Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

March 6th, 2018

SOMETIMES, BEDTIME CAN BE a real struggle, and a bottle might seem like an easy solution. Unfortunately, putting a baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice does more harm than good, because the easier bedtime comes at the expense of the baby’s oral health. Keeping those baby teeth healthy is crucial so that the adult teeth will have a better chance of coming in straight.

What Is Bottle Rot?

Prolonged exposure to the sugars in milk or juice erodes the enamel on a baby or toddler’s teeth, particularly the central incisors. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “baby bottle tooth decay” or the more sinister-sounding “bottle rot,” this is what it refers to, and it’s definitely something to avoid. It can also happen with sippy cups and even breastfeeding! If a baby’s gums and teeth aren’t properly cleaned after feeding, the sugary milk residue left in their mouth increases the risk of tooth decay.

Stopping Bottle Rot Before It Starts

Preventing bottle rot is simple: only use a bottle for the baby’s mealtimes, not to soothe them or help them fall asleep when they aren’t hungry. A pacifier will be much healthier for their teeth. After the baby reaches six months old, it’s safe to use a bottle of water, or a sippy cup of water for toddlers. Not only will it not cause bottle rot, but it won’t leave stains if it spills!

After every meal, make sure to clean out milk residue. Once baby teeth start appearing, it’s time to start brushing them. Use a soft toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Because babies can’t rinse and spit, make sure to use a non-fluoride toothpaste that is safe to swallow.

Treating Existing Bottle Rot

If your baby is already showing signs of tooth decay, come see us! We’ll be able to assess the extent of the decay, deal with any cavities, and come up with a plan to prevent future damage. One of the easiest steps you’ll be able to take at home is to limit their consumption of sugary drinks like juice and soda. You can also bring them to us for fluoride varnish treatments to give their teeth extra protection.

Watch this Video For More Information:

https://youtu.be/SlwiXRmlLyA

We Are Here To Help

We know that parenting is full of unexpected twists and turns, but we’re happy to help you navigate the ones involved in infant and child dental care. Like you, we want your child to have a healthy smile for life! If you haven’t already brought them in for a checkup, schedule one today! You can schedule online www.smilesarewild.com or call our office 479-582-0600.

Thank you for being our valued patients!

Top image by Flickr user Sander van der Wel used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Smile-Friendly After School Snacks

February 23rd, 2017

AS MANY PARENTS KNOW when your child comes home from school, they often run straight for the pantry!
We understand that kids can be a bit hungry after a long day in the classroom and we want to help you provide snacks that won’t only fill their bellies, but will benefit their smile as well!

Try These Smile-Friendly Snacks!
Consuming a lot of starchy and sugary treats in the afternoon can do a number on a child’s teeth—not to mention ruin their appetite for dinner! Sticky, sugary snacks can adhere to your child’s teeth for long periods of time, potentially causing harmful cavities. In order to avoid snack-induced cavities and other oral health concerns, try these ideas instead:

Leafy Greens and Fresh Veggies
Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens have calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, and magnesium–all essential for healthy teeth and gums. Veggies like broccoli and celery are great too! In addition to being rich in vitamins, broccoli has been shown to create an acid-resistant teeth “shield.” As for celery, because of its fibrous material, it massages gums, cleans teeth, and encourages saliva production—making it a natural tooth scrubber!

If your kids like a little crunch in their snack, you could even try making homemade veggie chips! You can use anything from kale and spinach to sweet potatoes and carrots. Simply mix your veggies with enough olive oil to coat them, add any spices you’d like (garlic or pepper is always good!), and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, flip your veggies, and then bake until crispy!

Cheese, Milk, and Yogurt
Dairy is the go-to dental snack for a reason! Few other foods give such a great boost of calcium. Cheese and yogurt even help cut acidity, helping protect your child’s teeth from erosion caused by acidic fruit juices.

If your child doesn’t just want plain yogurt, fruit and yogurt parfaits are a great option to add some flavor and healthy vitamins to their snack.

Fruit High in Vitamin C
A lack of vitamin C can break down the collagen network in our gums, making them tender and more susceptible to bacteria and gum disease. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and kiwi are great sources of Vitamin C.

To make their citrus snack fun, you can make fun kabobs with some citrus, berries, and some of their favorite cheeses.

If you’d like some healthy and creative school lunch ideas, check out these tips from Martha Stewart!

https://youtu.be/JmXX1VjLmBI

Do You Have Anything To Add?
Do you have any healthy snack recipes of your own? We’d love to hear them! Feel free to share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

Thank you for your trust in our practice!

 
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Top image by Flickr user Bradley West used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.