How to Stop Your Child From Sucking Their Thumb
It may be cute to see a tiny little baby sucking their thumb. But as kids grow, it’s not so cute anymore. This once-normal behavior becomes a very hard habit to break. And it could put your child’s oral health at risk if it continues after teething.
Most parents notice that the thumb-sucking habit slowly diminishes between two and four years of age. However, if your child isn’t showing any signs of slowing down - it may be time to take action.
Consequences of Thumb Sucking
There are a few issues that can arise as a result of thumb-sucking. Here are some of the most common:
- Impaired jaw growth
- Changes in palate
- Improper tongue posture
- Open bite
- Overbite or overjet
It is imperative that steps be taken to stop your child from sucking their thumb if you want to maintain good oral health.
Tips to Stop Your Child From Sucking Their Thumb
Teaching your child to stop sucking their thumb before permanent teeth come in is so important. Here are a few tips to help you get through this challenge.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Being negative, yelling, or punishing a kid for sucking their thumb is not going to work. This sucking habit is an innate reflex - and it is comforting to the child. A negative response is only likely to kick it into high gear.
Using positive reinforcement by praising and rewarding your child for not sucking their thumb can have a greater impact. An easy way to do this is by setting up a chart and adding stickers to it every time they aren’t sucking their thumb. This may be every few minutes, every hour, every day, etc.
Find a system that works and engages your child - and stick to it.
Distract Your Child
Find easy ways to distract your child and keep their hands busy. Engaging them in various activities is a great idea, such as arts and crafts, actively playing with toys, and playing sports. Pair it with a reward chart for even greater chances of success.
Thumb guards go on your child’s hand and cover their thumb. Due to air holes, they cannot get suction when attempting to suck their thumb. This makes them lose interest and can successfully break the habit.
Thumb guards allow your child to still be able to move about freely without much restriction. Discuss this option with your dentist before making a purchase.
Over The Counter Remedies
Discuss with your pediatric dentist prior to putting any over the counter remedy on your child's thumb. Many will try hot sauce but we do not recommend this because if it gets in the child's eye you could be off to the ER. Also, there can be some gastric distress with this method. There is some success with medicaments that you paint on the thumbnail but these should be placed only after the age of four as certain taste buds do not develop until after this age. We recommend you discuss this with your pediatric dentist to help guide you on what to buy.
A dental appliance may be recommended if your child continues to suck their thumb when permanent teeth erupt. The key here is that the child must be able to say they want to stop but can’t stop.
Talk to Your Child
Depending on how old your child is, sitting down and having a talk with them can have a bigger impact than you would imagine. Discuss the issues that can come from sucking their thumb, such as spreading germs, the eventual need for complex dental procedures, getting picked on by other kids, and so forth.
Sometimes helping them to understand what comes with thumb sucking can be enough for them to quit the habit on their own.
Reach Out to Your Pediatric Dentist
Your child’s dentist is a great resource when it comes to thumb-sucking habits. At Pediatric Dental Care of Memphis, we will work with our parents and their little patients to come up with a solution. There are many different ways to curb this habit - and working together can yield the greatest results.
To schedule an appointment, contact us today at one of our convenient locations. Or, request an appointment online.
Should Kids Get Fluoride Treatments?
Fluoride is a natural mineral substance that helps to prevent dental decay by hardening and remineralizing tooth enamel. Fluoride helps children's teeth properly develop before they erupt. It also strengthens bones.
While fluoride is safe for children, some parents are concerned about its use. Pediatric dentists reassure parents that in-office fluoride treatments are safe, effective, and can help prevent severe dental health issues in later life.
How Fluoride Works
Bacteria living in our mouths cause tooth decay. These bacteria consume food left behind on the teeth, especially sweet or starchy items. As the bacteria process the sugar, they release acid that damages tooth enamel. As tooth enamel breaks down, your child's teeth will be vulnerable to decay.
Fluoride repairs acid damage in a process called remineralization. Fluoride works with calcium and phosphate ions to rebuild the enamel, making it less acid-soluble than before.
In-Office Fluoride Treatments
In-office fluoride treatments are safe for children six months and up. The most common form of fluoride treatment is a varnish that the dentist or hygienist paints on the teeth. This varnish hardens and sets upon contact with saliva, lowering the chance that the child could accidentally swallow it.
Gels and foams are great for older children and adults. The dentist or hygienist gives these preparations in a molded tray. They come in many flavors.
Advantages of Fluoride Treatment
Lowers the Risk of Tooth Decay
In-office fluoride treatments are highly effective against tooth decay. When combined with a proper at-home care routine, you can help your child maintain positive oral health.
Repairs Some Existing Decay
In some cases, fluoride can even reverse the effects of small areas of decay.
Helps Prevent Costly Dental Treatments
When your child has regular fluoride treatments, they will be less likely to need procedures like fillings later on.
Lowers Chances of Tooth Loss Later in Life
Decay can lead to tooth loss. Preserving natural teeth carries many strong health benefits and saves the expense of tooth restorations in the future.
Other Fluoride Sources for Children
Children of ages six months and up can use fluoride toothpaste. Starting at age three, use a pea-sized amount. Under age three, use a dot of toothpaste the size of one grain of rice.
In many communities in the United States, municipal water supplies contain fluoride. In these areas, the rate of dental decay is significantly lower than in areas with non-fluoridated water.
If your area does not have fluoridated water, your dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements for your child.
Older children (over age six) can also use optional over-the-counter fluoride rinses with supervision.
Call Pediatric Dental Care
Fluoride treatment is a simple, inexpensive process that can greatly impact your child's oral health. Using fluoride treatment, you can protect your child from tooth decay today and the risk of severe dental problems later in life. Call one of our two Memphis, TN, offices to make an appointment for your child.
When Should Your Kids Start to Floss Their Teeth?
Flossing is a must for taking good care of your child's teeth. Your dentist can tell you whether your child's teeth need flossing. Most dentists recommend that parents start to floss their children's teeth between the ages of two and six or whenever the teeth begin to meet closely together.
Why Do Children's Teeth Need Flossing?
Children need to floss for the same reasons as adults. Flossing removes food and plaque between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing promotes healthy gums, reducing a child's risk of developing gingivitis or gum disease.
Starting a lifelong flossing habit at a young age can present major oral health benefits for your child. Many people struggle to comply with flossing instructions, even in adulthood. If your child develops a healthy routine in early childhood, they will be more likely to maintain a lifelong practice.
Flossing As Part of a Healthy Oral Care Routine
Parents should follow these steps to keep their child's smile as healthy as possible:
- Brush at least twice a day using children's fluoride toothpaste (from the first tooth emerging to age six) or regular fluoride toothpaste (age six and up)
- Floss daily starting when the teeth begin to meet closely
- Model positive oral care habits and let your child watch you care for your teeth
- Keep all dental appointments and have all recommended work done
- Maintain a healthy diet and be aware of excess sugars and starches
Tips to Help Parents Floss Their Children's Teeth
You can use traditional floss or pre-threaded picks with your child. If you use traditional floss, break off 18 inches of floss between your index finger and thumb and use it to wrap around your index finger. Holding the floss, gently guide it between the teeth. Floss both sides of the teeth and under the gum line.
If you care for your child's smile consistently, it will be easier for them to cooperate with having their teeth brushed and flossed. This practice will also make dental appointments easier for your child.
Transitioning to Children Flossing Their Teeth
Allow your child to practice flossing in a supervised setting. Ensure that your child flosses gently to avoid sore gums. Most children can begin flossing on their own when they are about six years old, but even after this age, children will need close supervision to ensure they do a good job.
Monitor your child's entire oral care routine until you are satisfied that they comply with their dentist's instructions.
Call Pediatric Dental Care of Memphis
Sometimes parents feel too busy to floss their children's teeth daily, but flossing is a key element of healthy oral care. Children who floss consistently starting in early childhood will have fewer cavities, less gum disease, and better oral health well into adulthood.
Call one of our two Memphis, TN, offices for oral health guidance and to schedule a dental appointment for your child.
How Long Does a Cavity Filling Take?
Your child may be nervous about getting a filling for the first time. While everything is sure to go smoothly and peacefully throughout the procedure, taking steps to prepare for the aftercare ahead of time can be beneficial. That way, once the cavity is filled, you can simply take your little one home to rest.
Of course, knowing how long the procedure is going to last will help you clear up any other obligations, too.
What is a Cavity?
A cavity is a hole in a tooth that results from tooth decay. When all the bacteria and acids in the mouth sit along the surface of the tooth, they can begin to wear down the enamel. Over time, this outer layer gets weaker and weaker as decay begins to set in.
With time, toothaches and discolorations can signal that a tooth may be ailing and in need of some attention. But, with routine dental visits, your child’s dentist will be able to catch issues early - including cavities.
In fact, the best way to avoid cavities altogether is to make sure that your child is brushing well at least twice per day, flossing, and making it to the dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and examination.
What to Expect with a Cavity Filling
A cavity filling is an in-office procedure that uses local anesthesia to numb the area around your child’s teeth and gums. Keep in mind that whether or not sedation is used will depend greatly on the patient and the extent of the procedure needed.
Once it is numb, the dentist will begin using a tooth washer (dental handpiece) and spin brush (slower dental handpiece) to remove decay from the tooth. The open area will then be filled.
There are different types of materials used for the filling. One of the most common options used today includes a combination of ceramic and plastic known as composite resin. This material will leave the tooth appearing like the others, looking natural and healthy. It will also have a lot of strength and durability, too. So whether it is a front tooth or a back tooth, it can handle the bite force.
Ultraviolet light is held over the tooth and is used to cure the filling material.
Throughout the entire procedure, you can rest easy knowing that your child’s dental team will age-appropriately explain what is happening as they move through the steps.
How Long Does a Cavity Filling Take?
You can expect a cavity filling appointment to last about 45 min (this does not include sedation if needed). However, if there is a significant amount of decay or if multiple fillings are needed, then this could take a little longer.
Dental Fillings at Pediatric Dental Care
If your child has a cavity that needs a filling, find comfort in the high-quality treatment and skills they will encounter at Pediatric Dental Care. We provide the most personalized treatment so that your child gets the best filling - and long-lasting results.
To learn more, contact us today at 901-363-8192. Or, request an appointment online.
How We Partner with Parents
In pediatric dentistry, patients and parents are equally important. While your child is always the primary focus, we include parents in every aspect of their dental care. When parents play an active role in their child’s dental care, it promotes healthy habits and increases the chances that children will develop and maintain lifelong dental and oral health.
We carry out our philosophy of partnering with parents in a variety of ways.
Parents Stay With Their Children at All Times
We believe it is in the best interest of the child and the parent for you to stay together throughout the dental appointment. You’ll never have to sit nervously in the waiting room while we lead your child off to receive dental care in a separate room. This helps both children and parents feel more comfortable, especially for our youngest patients. A parent can offer reassurance to an anxious child while they receive dental care. Babies and toddlers often sit on a parent's lap while receiving care. We even invite parents into the operatory during dental procedures like fillings, extractions, and all other types of treatment.
Parents Teach Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Parents are a child’s first teachers in all things, including dental self-care. By teaching and modeling proper brushing and flossing habits, your child will learn the importance of taking care of their teeth and how to do so correctly. We partner with parents to educate you and your children on good oral hygiene techniques and how to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. You only get one set of permanent teeth to last for your lifetime. It's up to you to take care of them so that they last. The responsibility of dental hygiene starts with parents and gradually transfers to the child as they grow and mature, eventually taking ownership of their own dental health.
Providing a Better Understanding of Dental Care
One of the biggest benefits of partnering with parents is that we can better explain dental problems and the procedures required to correct them. We can use X-rays and other images to show cavities, places where plaque forms, and spots that are getting missed by brushing and flossing. We can point out orthodontic issues that may need to be addressed or other potential dental or oral health concerns. Any treatment or procedure we recommend can be carefully explained to both children and parents so that everyone understands what needs to be done.
Establishing a Positive View of Dentistry
Parents play an important role in helping children establish a positive view of going to the dentist. We have seen both positive and negative effects of parents’ influence on children’s opinions regarding dental care, and those opinions can become ingrained. If parents have a good attitude, children are more likely to develop the same good attitude. If parents are negative or use the dentist as a threat to get them to brush their teeth, it can have the opposite effect. When you talk to your child about going to the dentist, don’t talk about pain or anything that conjures fear. Use positive words to reassure your child that the dentist is there to help.
Why Choose Pediatric Dental Care?
If the way we partner with parents sounds good to you, we welcome your children as new patients to our practice. Our doctors and staff establish a good rapport with children and their parents in order to build a solid foundation for a lifetime of dental health.
To learn more, call 901-363-8192 today to schedule or request an appointment.