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

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.

Thinking about your child’s dental care as they go back to school

July 29th, 2016

Whether parents and children or ready or not, it’s time to begin to think about all those things that need to be done before school starts. There are school supplies to buy, it’s time to make sure school clothes fit and of course, you actually have to register for school, too.

With everything that needs to be done, your child’s dental health routine may be the farthest thing from your mind, but the beginning of a new school year is an excellent time to review oral health routines, make sure all dental records are up-to-date with the requirements of the school your child attends and also an important time to make sure your child has all the supplies he/she needs to have the best opportunities for excellent oral health.

Buy a new toothbrush: While you’re out shopping for school supplies, pick up a new toothbrush, too. Toothbrushes should be changed every three to four months or sooner if your child has been sick. When bristles become frayed, they won’t clean teeth as thoroughly.

There are many different choices when it comes to buying a new toothbrush, but the basic choices come in manual or electric toothbrush. Both types are effective when used properly at least twice a day. Make sure that the toothbrush you choose has soft bristles, though.

Dr. Kassem highly recommends using a Sonicare toothbrush, if possible. While a Sonicare toothbrush costs a more than the standard toothbrush, Dr. Kassem has seen patients benefit from the technology used by Sonicare.

Standard electric toothbrushes vibrate between 2500 and 7000 strokes per minute, making it so that the person doesn’t have to move the brush around as much. Sonicare toothbrushes vibrate between 30,000 to 40,000 strokes per minute and clean areas a typical brush may not reach. When the Sonicare Toothbrush vibrates, it creates saliva and gets water and toothpaste below the gum line, which is often missed when brushing manually. Sonicare toothbrushes are available for purchase at Mahomet Family Dentistry.

Go back to the school routine now: When the first day of school rolls around, lazy mornings will soon become a pleasant memory. Even though your children may still wake up later now, make sure that they at least get into the routine of eating a healthy breakfast and brushing their teeth before they move on to the next activity.

Make a healthy breakfast, snack and lunch: Actually, most children are probably able to prepare their own food when it comes to breakfast, lunch and a snack, but you can provide the foods for them make the right choices. Foods like milk, cheese, fruits, berries, carrots, celery and leafy greens will give your children the vitamins they need to build strong teeth that’ll last a lifetime. Sugary foods such as fruit snacks, soda, sports drinks, chips and candies will wear down encourage the growth of bacteria that causes plaque and tartar, which lead to irreversible damage on any tooth.

Purchase an athletic mouthguard: Kids love to play. Here at Mahomet Family Dentistry, we love hearing stories about your child’s success both on and off the field. But sometimes we get calls about a loose, damaged or lost tooth (or sometimes teeth) as a result of a collision or fall on the field. These injuries are easily preventable with a mouth guard. At Mahomet Family Dentistry, we have boil and bite mouth guards (in a variety of colors!) available for your child.

Dr. Kassem can also make custom mouthguards for your child.* According to the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute, custom mouthguards can also reduce the risk of jaw injuries and even some sport-related concussions.

Remember in accordance with the Illinois State Law, children entering grades kindergarten, second and sixth grade are required to have an oral health examination.

*fee included for custom mouthguards

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