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Give Your Child a Healthy Mouth, A Healthy Start

February 7th, 2017

As parents begin to think about building the perfect box or making cards with candies for Valentine’s Day class parties, it’s also important that they reevaluate how their children are taking care of their teeth on a daily basis.

During February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health in children. Although children lose their first set of teeth, oral health begins while the infant is in the mother’s womb and it has been linked to cardiovascular and dementia conditions as well as respiratory and diabetic complications.

While a child (and adult’s) oral routine should only take up approximately 10 minutes a day (brush 2 times a day for 2 minutes, floss daily and eat healthy food), nearly half of all children ages 2 to 11 have been diagnosed with cavities.

With proper education and implementation at home, parents can teach their children how to take care of their teeth and gums so that they can reap the benefits of a healthy mouth for their entire lifetime.

Studies have shown that it is safe for expectant mothers to visit the dentist for their six-month exam to have their teeth professionally cleaned and to have gum tissue examined. It is important that mothers do this because with hormone changes, they are more susceptible to pregnancy gingivitis.

Dental caries, or cavities, can also affect the health of the mother and her baby. Expectant mothers with periodontal disease are also at a higher risk of delivering early or having babies with low birth weight.

But babies are not born with the oral bacteria that causes tooth decay, gingivitis or gum disease. It is likely that babies contract this bacteria through kissing parents, grandparents or siblings, sharing utensils and cups or eating or drinking sugar.

It is important that parents only put breast milk or formula in bottles for feeding, not soda or sugary drinks. Parents should only fill their baby’s bottle with water overnight. Even breast milk and formula have sugar in them. Even though infants don’t have teeth, caretakers should wipe their gum line with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding.

Once a baby’s first tooth comes through, parents can clean their teeth and gums with an age and size-appropriate toothbrush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste two times a day.

At Mahomet Family Dentistry, we would like to see your child in the office before he/she turns one-year old. Dr. Kassem will help parents understand how and when they can expect teeth to emerge, give tips on how to take care of the teeth and make sure the child is getting adequate fluoride.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. It is also known to reverse early tooth decay. Children who come into Mahomet Family Dentistry receive fluoride treatments and sealants as they get older, but fluoride should be part of the daily oral health routine at home by drinking tap water every day.

As your baby becomes a toddler and goes into kindergarten, parents should supervise their oral routine daily. Make sure your child brushes their teeth for at least two-minutes a day, floss once a day,  and eats natural, fibrous foods. Meats, fruits vegetables, proteins and calcium benefit teeth.

Limiting sugar intake is important for your child’s oral health. It is believed that prehistoric children did not have cavities because they did not have access to sugar. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average child under 12 consumes 49 pounds of sugar per year. The American Heart Association recommends that preschool-aged children consume no more than 4 teaspoons of sugar, children between 4 and 8 consume no more than 3 teaspoons of sugar and pre-teen or teenage children should have no more than 5-8 teaspoons of sugar each day.

By eating fruits and vegetables with or after each meal, children are using a natural, fibrous material that produces saliva, which kills cavity producing bacteria in the mouth. Lean meats, proteins and calcium include the nutrients teeth need to develop strong enamel.

As children get into first grade and can tie their own shoes, they should be responsible enough to brush their teeth on their own. Parents may need to remind them to brush after breakfast or before bedtime, but with proper training, parents should not have to assist anymore. After three or four months, the head of the toothbrush will begin to wear down, and parents need to make sure they replace it.

It is also important to talk to your children about the use of drugs and tobacco as these substances can gravely affect one’s oral health, among other things. Smokers are 50-percent more likely to lose their teeth as an adult than non-smokers. They are also at a greater risk for periodontal disease or gum recession. Chewing tobacco users are 50-percent more likely to develop cancers of the cheeks, gums or lip-lining.

By educating your child on their oral health and supervising their routine, we can begin to reduce the number of growing periodontal disease, which have been linked to dementia, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

In 2009 and 2010 is was estimated that 47.2 percent, or 64.7 million American adults have some form of periodontitis, according to the study titled, “Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States.” That rate rises to 70.1 percent in adults 65 or older.

Remember, it just takes about 10-minutes a day to impact your child’s well-being. Please feel free to reach out to the Mahomet Family Dentistry team if you have any questions.

How to take care of your child's teeth

November 6th, 2016

What to do with all the Halloween Candy

October 25th, 2016

Candy. Bags and bags of candy. And maybe one more bag of candy depending on how long the kids stay out trick-or-treating. Your kids will come home Monday night, spread the candy out on the floor, sort it by type and then trade with their siblings so they have what they were looking for.

By Tuesday of next week parents all over Mahomet will likely be finding ways to hide the kids’ candy so their teeth don’t rot out and their stomachs don’t hurt. Remember that we vote the following Tuesday, so if you eat when you’re stressed, you may want to keep some of that candy around.

But, being dentists and caring about your oral health, we don’t suggest that, either. So, what do we do with all the candy? We’d like to give you a few suggestions:

Use it throughout the year

We know everyone is going to eat candy during the year. We don’t suggest eating it all at once, though. Give your child a few pieces to ease their craving and then freeze the rest of it. Throughout the year you can give it to them as a reward or incorporate it into other desserts and sweets such as cookies or milkshakes.

Donate it to the school or MAYC

Mahomet-Seymour teachers often use candy as a reward at the end of the day or during the holidays. They even collect the homecoming parade candy with their class to use in their classroom throughout the year. But because we didn’t have a homecoming parade, some teachers are spending their own money to buy candy. Help them out by donating to your child’s teacher.

Eat candy after a meal

When you can, we suggest eating candy after a meal. Fruits, vegetables and some meats increase saliva production and help to cancel out acids produced by bacteria and rinse away food particles.

Some candies are better than others

Mouth Healthy suggests sticking to chocolate for your sweet tooth. “Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.”

They also point out the sticky candies and sour candies are hard to remove from the surface of your enamel and often include additional acids that can break down your enamel. Hard candy also has the potential to break off parts of your teeth.

Use it in an advent calendar

Countdown the 25 days until Christmas with your Halloween candy. Remove the candy from the Halloween packaging, put it into a container in the freezer to save until Dec. 1. After you build your advent calendar, stuff it with a treat for each day until Dec. 25.

Use it as a learning tool

Is your child struggling as they learn their basic math facts? Use the candy to help them add, subtract, multiply or divide. Give them a piece as a reward and toss the rest out.

Build a gingerbread house

Even if you buy a premade gingerbread house, you’re probably going to buy more candy, too. Use laffy taffy for shingles, M&Ms for lights along the rooftop and bite size snickers for landscaping.

Put it in the pinata

Your child will have a birthday before Halloween rolls around next year. Instead of buying more candy, stuff the pinata with what you have leftover.

Send it overseas

Talk to your children about what it means to live overseas, especially when someone is protecting our freedoms in the military. Children may believe that American candy is all over the world, but that is simply untrue. Each culture and region has different preferences, and it is often hard for Americans to find their comfort candy. With programs like Operation Shoebox, we can help to send our at-home comforts to the men and women who may be missing a little piece of home.

Thumbsucking is Natural in Small Children, What to Look for as Problems

October 17th, 2016

Thumb-sucking is a natural way for babies to soothe themselves. Actually, many infants begin sucking their thumbs or fingers when they are inside the womb.

There are several benefits to babies sucking their thumb, fingers or a pacifier. It gives them a sense of security, helps them learn about the world around them, is relaxing and may help the child fall asleep.

From a dental standpoint, though, thumb-sucking or pacifiers can cause problems with proper growth of the mouth, teeth alignment or speech problems if it continues past the age of 5. While most babies and toddlers will break the habit on their own between the ages of 3 to 6 years, there are some children who continue to depend on their extremities for comfort, even as they get into first and second grade.

Intense or prolonged sucking may cause malocclusion, a condition where the teeth are not properly aligned or pushed outward. While these conditions often correct themselves when the child does not suck on their fingers anymore, there are times when this habit leads to prescribed orthodontic treatment. As permanent teeth come in, thumb-sucking can also cause changes to the roof of the mouth. Some children also develop speech problems if they suck their fingers too long.

If you hear a popping sound when the finger is released from your child’s mouth or if you see callous, or cracking or bleeding sores on your child’s finger, she is probably sucking too hard. You can also check with your pediatrician or Dr. Kassem to see if your child is sucking their fingers hard enough to cause concern.

If your child is causing damage to their mouth or reaching four years of age, parents can encourage children to stop thumb-sucking, but it is important that the child breaks the habit on their own.

  • The older the child gets, their reasons for thumb-sucking often changed. Sometimes children past the age of 4 suck their thumbs because they are bored or insecure. If you see your child’s thumb making the way to his mouth, distract him and involve him in another activity.

If your child sucks her thumb when she’s insecure, it is important to address the reason for anxiety or worry. Once your child chooses a different option than sucking his/her thumb, praise or reward him/her instead of scolding when he/she does.

  • You can also limit time with items, such as blankets or stuffed animals, your child may associate with thumb-sucking.

  • Putting a bandage or sock on their thumb or hand overnight may help deter them from sucking their thumb overnight.

  • If your child is not responding to at-home treatments, talk to your pediatrician or Dr. Kassem about ways to help.

It is very important that you do not shame your child for thumb-sucking as this can cause more damage.

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