Friday, October 25, 2019

Know When to Take Away the Bottle and Sippy Cup

Know When to Take Away the Bottle and Sippy Cup

To a parent, the bottle and spillproof training cup (often called a sippy cup) are two essential tools that ensure your child is happy and content. We see these two innocuous objects, when used incorrectly, as the root cause of early-onset tooth decay in infants and toddlers.

So what is the problem with bottles and sippy cups? Both require a sucking motion, resulting in the liquid coating the six upper front teeth. That prevents the normal cleaning effects of saliva and promotes tooth decay. Because “baby teeth” hold the place for permanent teeth to grow in, this early childhood tooth decay can be highly detrimental. Movement or loss of the baby teeth from decay affects the way the permanent teeth grow into the gum.

The worst damage can come from the choice of liquid in the bottle or cup. Fruit juices or formula filled with sugar increase the amount of bacteria and acid generated around the teeth. In addition, these drinking aids do not develop any special oral motor skills and actually support the suckling habit detrimental to proper tooth development.

As children learn to walk, they often carry a bottle or sippy cup in their mouths. When they fall, the bottle or cup can be jammed into the mouth where it hits the teeth and gums, causing oral trauma. Think it can’t happen to your toddler? A 2012 study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, reported that every four hours another child ends up in the emergency room due to an injury from a sippy cup, bottle or pacifier.

The following are some simple measures you can take to limit the detrimental effects of the bottle and sippy cup:
  • Wean your child off the bottle by the age of 1 year.
  • Use a sippy cup as a transitional, not permanent, solution.
  • Fill the sippy cup with only water unless it’s being used at mealtime.
  • Have your toddler use a straw and an open cup when drinking fruit juice or sugary drinks.
  • Begin a regular oral hygiene routine at a very early age.
Bottles and sippy cups may be a simple and easy way for a toddler to experience a small degree of independence, but easy and convenient do not always equal healthiest. If you are concerned about the effect on your child’s teeth from using a bottle or sippy cup, bring your toddler to KiDDS Dental for a checkup and advice about how to keep those baby teeth healthy.

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Kicking the Thumb-sucking Habit

Kicking the Thumb-sucking Habit

Thumb-sucking is a common way for infants and very young children to soothe themselves when they feel anxious or stressful. Most children abandon the habit once they develop the ability to speak and voice their anxieties. However, for many children, the habit is not so easily abandoned; for them, the risk of developing dental problems such as overbite or jaw malformation is strong.

Although it was once believed that, until the emergence of permanent teeth, thumb-sucking caused no damage, experts now think that the negative effects of thumb-sucking can begin as early as age 2 or 3. If your child refuses to give up the thumb as he or she ages, there are some steps you can take to help your child kick the habit:
  • Praise your child or offer simple rewards when he or she does not suck his or her thumb for a specified period of time, increasing the time period as the child shows repeated success.
  • Remove the thumb from the child’s mouth after he or she falls asleep.
  • Talk to your child about the habit and about the importance of stopping; be supportive and calm instead of scolding or threatening.
  • Help your child become aware of the habit by calmly pointing out when he or she is thumb-sucking. Many children lack self-awareness at this age, and gentle reminders can help them recognize the habit and find other ways to cope (like hugging a stuffed animal, for instance).
  • Remind your child in a positive way that he or she is growing up; point to older role models (cartoon figures are fine) who do not suck their thumbs.
  • Avoid stop-gap measures, like foul-tasting liquids or mittens to prevent thumb-sucking, because these can actually increase a child’s anxiety. If needed, we can create a mouthguard or night guard that can help children quit the habit.
  • For children who are ready to quit, use a plastic bandage on the finger as a reminder not to suck.
  • Finally, don’t panic. Your anxiety will be picked up by your child and may cause him or her to increase the habit to alleviate increased anxiety.

If your child displays aggressive or long-term thumb-sucking habits, bring him or her to KiDDS Dental for an evaluation. Dr. Jared and his clinical team can give you a better understanding of how your child's thumb-sucking is affecting his or her dental development, and we can assess the possible need for dental braces or other orthodontic treatments in the future.

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