Friday, September 23, 2016

Break the Pacifier Habit—Gently and Creatively

Break the Pacifier Habit—Gently and Creatively

The Latin root for pacifier is “pax,” or peace—and any parent who has been brought relief from an infant’s screams by that bit of plastic knows why. But when the infant has become a toddler, or even preschooler, getting him or her to forgo the binky for good may feel like a war.

On the one hand—no pun intended—it can be easier to break a child of a pacifier habit than a thumb-sucking habit (you can’t take away a thumb!), so the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that you provide your baby with a safe pacifier in infancy to satisfy her natural need to suck.

But, according to the AAPD, the pacifier habit should be strongly discouraged after age 3. In fact, there’s evidence that the longer a child uses a pacifier after age 2, the greater the chances that his or her jaw and tooth development will be adversely affected and correctable only by orthodontics years later.

If your child is very attached to the pacifier, you may have to employ a creative strategy (or two) in the detachment process. Experienced parents have made the following suggestions:
  • Enlist your dentist’s help. Arrange in advance for your dentist to give your child a special gift in return for her bag of collected binkies.
  • Visit a Build-A-Bear Workshop. Along with the stuffing, fill the bear with the pacifiers. This way, your child still has the binkies, but they won’t be ruining his or her bite.
  • Create a sticker chart. Every binky-free day earns a sticker for your child. A certain number of stickers earn her a special toy.
  • Conduct a visit from the Tooth Fairy’s cousin, the Paci-Fairy. Pacifiers placed under your child’s pillow at night are “miraculously” replaced with something very special by the next morning.
Even if one of these strategies works initially, there is no guarantee that a follow-up tantrum or two won’t erupt. Be sympathetic but staunch, suggests Mark L. Brenner, author of the book Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs: What Every Parent Should Know About Starting and Stopping. Most kids, he says, will accept their binky-free state in a couple of days.

Dr. Jared would love to answer any further questions regarding pacifier habits. Click here to schedule an appointment at KiDDS Dental today! Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Brace Yourself: Early Orthodontic Treatment

Brace Yourself: Early Orthodontic Treatment

When today’s generation of parents was growing up, a metal mouth was an adolescent rite of passage. Now, braces might be associated with elementary school. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be evaluated at age 7 and, in some cases, treatment be started shortly thereafter. There are pros and cons to early orthodontic care, most of which depend on the problem being treated.

Some conditions, such as narrow upper arches, anterior crossbites or underbites, are better treated while the jaw is still growing. Early treatment may save a child from oral surgery later, and even if further treatment is required in the teen years, it will be less extensive.

Some parents opt for earlier orthodontics out of concern for their child’s self-esteem. Having a prominent underbite or protruding upper teeth can lead to teasing; other issues, such as problems with the palate, can cause speech impediments. In these cases, even if getting braces at age 8 won’t keep a child from needing them at age 14, it might be worth pursuing early orthodontic treatment. Parents should weigh the cost and discomfort of these treatments with the benefits of a better-looking smile or clearer speech.

However, some studies suggest that certain problems are best left untreated until adolescence. It’s not really a matter of the orthodontics’ damaging a child in any way, but more because the treatment is simply ineffective. For example, several randomized clinical trials since the 1990s have shown that class II malocclusions treated early lead to more treatment time (and more money spent) than those treated in adolescence. In other words, having braces applied for this problem at age 8 will be no more effective and more costly than getting them at age 13.

Your best bet? Have your child evaluated around the age of 7, and discuss the benefits and risks of early treatment with Dr. Jared at KiDDS Dental and an orthodontist. This dental specialist will have a good grasp on the best course of action, to ensure that your child’s smile is healthy—and beautiful—for years to come.

Call us to schedule an appointment today! (509)-891-7070.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Dental Hygiene: A Bone of Contention

Dental Hygiene: A Bone of Contention

When people think about their dentists, they tend to think only about their teeth and gums. Most people don’t think about their bones. It’s very easy to think of your teeth as little bones that grow out of your gums, but when we talk about bone loss, we aren’t just talking about tooth decay. We are talking about your child’s jawbone and skull.

Every part of the body is connected. Just as the leg bone is connected to the hipbone, the jawbone and skull are connected to the teeth and gums. Poor dental hygiene can cause harmful acids and bacteria to build up not just on your children’s teeth and gums but in the jawbone and skull, causing them to wear away. Your children’s teeth live in little holes in those bones. If those holes get eaten away and become too big, your children’s teeth can loosen or even fall out.

Another preventable cause of bone loss is osteoporosis, a weakness of the bones caused by a lack of calcium. While this condition is uncommon in children, childhood diet may influence osteoporosis later in life. The best way to prevent osteoporosis and a good piece of health advice in general, is to ensure that your child has a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. It’s never too early to reduce the risk of developing this very serious condition later in life.

Certain conditions such as cancer and autoimmune diseases can cause bone loss; so can certain medical treatments. It’s important to let us know at KiDDS Dental when your children have significant changes in their health or if they are taking new medications. Dr. Jared knows the best ways to mitigate the effect of these changes on their teeth.

Bone loss is a serious problem, but one that can be effectively fought.

If you have questions regarding bone loss, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Bonding Over Bonding: Straight Talk About Tooth Bonding for Children

Bonding Over Bonding: Straight Talk About Tooth Bonding for Children

Teeth that come in crooked. Wide gaps between teeth. Teeth that are cracked or chipped during sports or play. Childhood can be rough on those pearly whites. Your child’s imperfect smile is still beautiful, of course, and a bit of an imperfection can certainly add to one’s character. But to improve the look of imperfect teeth, dental bonding is a safe, relatively inexpensive way to fix problems such as gaps or chips. Best of all, bonding can usually be completed in one painless visit at KiDDS Dental.

Dental bonding gets its name because that’s exactly what happens during the process―the material used bonds to the tooth. We use composite resin, a combination of a special type of glass and either plastic or resin, to fill in spaces and cracks. Your child may actually have some composite resin in his or her mouth already because it is often used to fill cavities. As an added benefit, composite resin actually adds strength to a tooth without damaging the structure underneath.

If you and your child decide that dental bonding is a good idea, Dr. Jared will choose a shade of composite resin that closely matches your child’s natural teeth. We prepare the tooth for bonding by applying a liquid that roughens its surface. After the solution is applied, we will clean and dry the tooth, then brush on the bonding liquid. The tooth is now ready for the composite resin, which needs to be applied a little bit at a time. A special light is used to harden the resin between applications.

The final step in dental bonding is to shape, smooth and polish the composite resin to make it look as natural as possible. And here’s the best part: The entire process takes only about an hour.

Your child will need to take care of the bonded teeth, because they can easily stain and chip. Although bonding doesn’t last forever, that’s actually what makes it a good choice for children, whose mouths are constantly changing and growing. Talk to us to see if your child is a good candidate for this process―it might be a great “bonding” experience.

Give us a call at 509-891-7070 to schedule today!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Battle Bacteria with Brushing

Battle Bacteria with Brushing

Your child’s mouth contains billions of bacteria—some helpful and some harmful. There are more than 700 different types of microbes that call the mouth their home, and just one tooth can host as many as 500 million bacteria. While some bacteria actually help control the development of cavity-causing plaque, others can cause tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease if the teeth and gums are not cleaned regularly and properly.

The best way to keep your child from developing cavities and infected gums is to make sure he or she brushes twice a day (the best times are after breakfast and before bedtime). This will keep bacteria populations in check and minimize the risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Passing up snacks and brushing after having one are obvious preventive measures. Here are a few other important guidelines your child should follow to make sure the risks of tooth decay and periodontal disease are minimized:
  • Have your child brush all of his or her teeth, not just the front ones, spending some time on the side and back teeth and brushing for two to three minutes. Use a timer or a song to keep track of the time.
  • Your child should use a soft-bristled brush. Replace it every three to four months—earlier if bristles show signs of wear. If your child becomes ill, replace the brush when your child recovers.
  • After brushing, have your child rinse his or her toothbrush with warm water and dry it in the open air—not in a closed container, which can enable bacteria to multiply. And don’t clean toothbrushes in a dishwasher or in the microwave, both of which can damage bristles.
  • Talk to us about swishing with an antiplaque mouth rinse and mild pediatric mouthwash, which can help reduce harmful bacteria that can cause decay and gum disease.
  • Although gum disease is not contagious, harmful bacteria can be spread from one person to another. Thus, not sharing toothbrushes, lip balm or gloss, water bottles, musical instruments or any personal item that comes in contact with the mouth is important.
Of course, one of the best ways to make sure your child’s teeth remain healthy is to schedule—and keep—regular dental checkups at KiDDS Dental. Pediatric dental care is essential to help your child avoid dental problems in adulthood. Establishing good oral health habits saves time, money and headaches in the short and long run, so it is never too early to start your child on the road to optimum oral health.

If you have questions about your child's oral health, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Balance Cavity Causers with Cavity Fighters

Balance Cavity Causers with Cavity Fighters

During infancy, children go through a stage when they try to stick into their mouths almost anything they can get their hands on. While children eventually learn the difference between plastic blocks and actual food, that doesn’t mean everything that’s edible belongs in their mouths. Some foods help children’s teeth grow healthy and strong. Others rot them away. It’s important to know the difference.

Cavity Fighters—Consume a Lot of These!
  • Fluoridated water: Easily available in most areas and an essential part of a child’s diet, fluoridated water helps prevent cavities and keeps your child hydrated.
  • Milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy foods: The calcium, phosphates and vitamin D found in dairy products all promote strong and healthy teeth. Even better, calcium can actually form a barrier on top of the tooth that protects it from acids that cause cavities.
  • Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables: These versatile foods are not only good for your child’s mouth but they also serve as an effective alternative to some of the “cavity causers” listed below. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables stimulate the flow of saliva that washes away the acids and food particles that lead to cavities. And as a bonus, these foods will freshen your child’s breath.
  • Xylitol gum: As a sweetener in sugar-free chewing gum, xylitol shows great promise for cavity prevention because the bacteria present in the mouth cannot use xylitol to grow. With xylitol use, fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on tooth surfaces, less plaque forms and the level of acids attacking the tooth surfaces decreases. When purchasing sugar-free gum, check the list of ingredients. If xylitol is listed first, the amount will be at decay-preventing levels.
Cavity Causers—Avoid These!
  • Sugar-sweetened chewing gum, caramel, taffy and other sticky candies: Not only do these foods contain lots of sugars but they actually stick to your child’s teeth and cause his or her mouth to fill with acidic bacteria that rot the teeth.
  • Soft drinks and fruit juices: These beverages are full of sugar and take a long time to drink, thus remaining in your child’s mouth long enough to create an ideal environment for cavities to develop.
  • Citrus fruits: Citrus is incredibly acidic. And acid eats teeth. Don’t let your child suck on these fruits or keep them in his or her mouth for long periods.
Being smart about what your child eats is important, but it’s not enough. If you want to do everything you can to fight cavities, bring your child in to KiDDS Dental on a regular basis.

Dr. Jared would love to answer any further questions regarding your child's oral health. Call us to schedule an appointment today! 509-891-7070.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Baby Those Baby Teeth

Baby Those Baby Teeth

Baby teeth (properly called primary teeth) usually all fall out by the time your child is about 12 years old. Most, in fact, are gone years earlier. So, if baby teeth inhabit your child’s mouth for a relatively short time, why is their health so vitally important? The dental experts at WebMD recently provided some answers.

Healthy primary teeth
  • provide your child’s mouth and face with an essential element of “normal” appearance
  • keep spaces available for the permanent teeth to later erupt in their correct positions
  • are essential for speech development and clarity
  • let your child chew properly, which makes getting good nutrition easier
  • help ensure that the permanent teeth will emerge in a healthy condition
Untreated decay in baby teeth can harm the permanent teeth growing beneath the gumline. If baby teeth are lost too soon because of decay, the adult teeth may grow in crooked or spaced too closely together. What’s more, untreated decay (also called cavities or caries) causes pain and can progress into an abscess that can cause infection to spread to other areas of your child’s body.

Preventing decay is relatively simple. The key: Limit contact between your child’s teeth and liquid carbohydrates—in other words, drinks with sugar. These include not only drinks like soda but also fruit juices, milk, formula and sweetened water.

Avoid laying your baby down for the night or a nap with a bottle that contains anything but plain water. The most common cause of decay in baby teeth occurs when the child is put to bed with a milk- or formula-filled bottle. In fact, early childhood caries is frequently called baby bottle tooth decay.

Before his or her first birthday, transition your child from a bottle to a sippy cup. This helps prevent liquids from settling on the teeth. Even with a sippy cup, however, sugary beverages are still less desirable than plain water. Resist adding sugar to food, and avoid coating a pacifier with sugar or honey.

Finally, after your child eats or drinks, wipe his or her gums with a wet cloth or gauze. Start using a toothbrush once the teeth erupt. This helps remove residue that can develop into bacteria-laden plaque, a precursor to decay.

Taking care of baby teeth helps ensure healthy adult teeth. See Dr. Jared as soon as the first baby tooth erupts or by the age of 12 months. It’s never too early to start good oral care.

If you have questions about good oral care, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.