Our Blog

The Thumb-Sucking Habit

Apr 29, 2013

At our office, we are often asked should I be concerned with my child’s thumb sucking? So, our team thought we’d share what our thoughts are on your child sucking his or her thumb.

Infants Who Suck Their Thumbs

As infants begin experimenting with the basic functions of their mouths, from sucking on a bottle to beginning to speak, it is natural for them to suck their thumbs. Parents with young babies who regularly suck their thumbs probably don’t need to feel overly concerned, so long as fingers are kept clean and the habit is kept in check. For most children, the exploratory stage of thumb-sucking ends after just a few short years. Problems with thumb-sucking occur when infants grow into young children but the habit has not been resolved.

Dangers of Thumb-Sucking

One of the main differences between an infant and a child sucking his thumb is the formation of the mouth and teeth. An infant’s mouth is barely beginning to grow and develop, so sucking a thumb might actually help to stimulate the process. For a child with a mouth full of teeth, however, a thumb-sucking habit might cause some serious problems. As a parent, it can be very important to watch your child carefully to make sure the sucking habit is regulated.

As a child grows and develops, baby teeth begin to fall out. A child sucking his or her thumb during the baby teeth stage may not run any great risks. Our team often sees that once a child has developed his or her permanent teeth, the problems with thumb-sucking can become more serious. KidsHealth.org states that children who suck their thumbs beyond the age of four or five might increase their risk of developing an overbite, infections, and other dental problems (Your Child’s Habits).

What You Can Do To Help

Parents who want to prevent possible problems for their child would be wise to begin preventive care early on. While you don’t need to be overly concerned about an infant sucking a thumb, it might be a good idea to help your toddler break the habit before permanent teeth begin to show. The University of Pittsburgh suggests several things you can try (Thumb-sucking & Pacifiers).

  • Try to use positive rewards for good behavior instead of negativity or threatening behavior.
  • Talk openly with your child about the potential dangers of a thumb-sucking habit.
  • Help your child find other productive things to do with the hands as a means of distraction. Playing a game of blocks, for example, might be a great diversion.
  • Support and encourage your child while he or she is trying to break the habit.

As children develop, they have many things to learn and to think about. By understanding a few simple facts about thumb-sucking, you can help your child develop in a healthy and positive way. If you have any other questions, feel to contact us or ask during your next appointment!

 

A Healthy Mouth Starts With What You Eat

Aug 23, 2012

Most people know that visiting the dentist is an essential part of caring for their teeth. Regular checkups and cleanings are, of course, very important. But what some people don’t realize is that good dental hygiene starts long before you get to the dentist’s office. You may be saying, “I know, it starts with my toothbrush and floss.” But actually, oral health begins even before that. A healthy smile starts at your grocery store.

Dental checkups can detect problems early on and address them, but only good nutrition can give your teeth and gums the healthy foundation they need. If your diet is rich in tooth-friendly nutrients, you will be less prone to gum disease, tooth decay, and even jawbone loss.

So, which nutrients are the most important? Here are a few tooth-building superstars.

Calcium:
We all know that calcium builds strong bones and teeth. Most expectant mothers are even aware that the calcium-rich foods they eat during pregnancy will ensure that their babies develop strong, healthy teeth later on. But did you know that calcium is important to your teeth long into adulthood?

On its “Milk Matters” page, the National Institutes of Health tells us that calcium can protect teeth against decay. Furthermore, a 2001 study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that elderly people who had adequate amounts of calcium in their diets were more likely to retain their teeth as they aged.

Good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheeses, milk, and leafy green vegetables. If you can’t get an enough calcium from your diet alone, talk to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin can synthesize it during exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D could also be called the healthy smile vitamin. It not only helps your teeth, but it also keeps your gums healthy. Another study published by the National Library of Medicine has shown a connection between low levels of dietary vitamin D and gingivitis. People in the study who had more of the vitamin in their diets had healthier gums.

While most of us get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure, people who live farther from the equator may need to take a supplement during the winter months.

Vitamin C:
Long ago, British sailors were called “Limeys” because their superiors made them eat limes on long ocean voyages. Why? Because limes are rich in vitamin C and without it, the sailors got scurvy and often lost their teeth. While there’s little danger of developing scurvy today, a study in the year 2000 of people who ranged in age from 20 to 90, showed that vitamin C is still necessary for healthy gums. People in the study who had the lowest dietary intake of this essential vitamin were at the highest risk of gum disease.

Vitamin C is perhaps the easiest of vitamins to get from your diet. Rich sources include strawberries, apricots, oranges, lemons and, of course, limes. Red and yellow peppers also have lots of vitamin C, as do tomatoes and brussel sprouts.
Never put off regular dental checkups and cleanings, but in between appointments, watch your diet. Making sure these essential nutrients are a part of your daily intake will ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be.