Pacifiers and Dental Health

baby-552610_1920We get asked all the time about children who use pacifiers. An important fact to note is that sucking a pacifier or finger is natural. Babies suck even when they are not hungry to comfort themselves. Some babies even begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs before being born!

However, when babies repeatedly suck on a pacifier or thumb and finger over a long period of time, you run the risk that their upper front teeth will begin to tip outward and not grow in properly.

In addition, crooked teeth and bite problems can occur with prolonged sucking, which may result in children needing significant orthodontic treatments later in life to correct the damage.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) does recommend a pacifier over a finger or thumb, as the habit is easier to break should babies not willingly give it up.

The organization also recommends considering safety when selecting that pacifier.

The shield on the pacifier should be wider than the child’s mouth, and the pacifier should be monitored for wear and tear.

A bottle nipple should never be used as a substitute and discontinue use if the child can fit the entire pacifier in their mouth.

Don’t dip the pacifier in anything sweet, and never leave a baby with a pacifier unattended.

It is an instinct and most children will come to the point where they will give up the thumb or pacifier on their own.

If it continues past the age of 3, it is time for the parents to intervene to help break the habit. The earlier the habit is stopped, the better for their teeth in the long run.

Early visits to a pediatric dentist will help parents to help their children stop sucking their thumbs and pacifiers and hopefully prevent damage before it is too late to turn back.

The AAPD recommends taking your child to a pediatric dentist before age 1 or when the first tooth appears.

Study Finds 99% of Obese Kids Have Inflamed Gums

702px-obesidadinfantilyadolescenteThe vast majority of overweight and obese children show signs of gingivitis, according to a study in Diabetes Care. While the study was relatively small, the authors highlight the need for a multidisciplinary approach to care for children with excess body fat.

Researchers from Argentina and California wanted to see if excess body fat in children was tied to a number of inflammatory conditions. They hypothesized that overweight and obese kids may also have periodontal disease because of the inflammatory processes of other diseases associated with obesity, such as insulin resistance.

Obesity is considered a global epidemic by World Health Organization. It is a serious health problem among children and adults.

Pediatric obesity linked to gingivitis

Scientists have already established a link between periodontal disease and obesity in adults, but no such link has been explored for children. The researchers felt it was important to investigate a potential link between periodontal disease and pediatric obesity, because untreated gingivitis may progress to more severe forms of gum disease later in life.

The researchers began by evaluating rates of gingival inflammation in 90 overweight and obese but otherwise healthy Argentinean children and adolescents. The children were referred to an outpatient clinic for obesity treatment, and gingivitis incidence was evaluated using the gingival inflammatory index.

Almost 99% of obese children and 85% of overweight children had at least some gingival inflammation. The researchers also found a statistically significant correlation between children with gingivitis and insulin resistance, a condition in which cells don’t respond properly to glucose.

The evidence showed an association between insulin resistance and the development of periodontal disease. These results reinforced the importance of addressing insulin resistance and of gingivitis awareness for children with excess body fat.

A comprehensive multidisciplinary approach

The study had a number of shortcomings, including having a relatively small sample size. The sample was also homogeneous, consisting of white Argentinean children, and did not include a control to compare rates of gingival inflammation to kids with a healthy body weight.

Furthermore, because it was a short two-page study, the authors did not include details about the severity of gingival inflammation or who conducted the measurements.

Nevertheless, the study highlights the need for similar studies to evaluate the link between pediatric obesity and gingivitis. The authors believe the study findings also serve as a reminder that dentists and hygienists should be a part of the multidisciplinary team that cares for overweight and obese children.


Make Dental Care Fun Again with Time to Brush

toothbrush-571741_1920Dental hygiene has consistently been a problem for young, sugar-loving children. To make matters worse, they are usually opposed to tooth brushing. Here to help is Time To Brush.

In America, there is an epidemic of dental hygiene plaguing an unsettling number of children. In fact, the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation reported that over forty percent of children have dental cavities before they even reach kindergarten. To make matters worse, around one in every five children do not have the dental care they need to treat these occurrences. With the prevalence of this issue, it is vital that everyone, especially developing children consistently brushes their teeth. This is where Time To Brush fills its niche. The multi-functional toothbrush holder puts a new and modern spin on the traditional two minute timer, allowing young ones to actually enjoy taking care of themselves.

The Time To Brush itself features a small screen guiding children through the process of brushing their teeth. The screen is dim enough to not hurt their eyes late at night, making it perfect for low-light evenings and mornings. Users are shown the correct toothbrushing techniques by a lively and hygienic duo: Bobby Brush and Fiona Floss. As children brush their teeth in front of the Time To Brush holder, the screen displays exactly which areas they should be brushing and for how long. Best of all, the animation lasts two minutes, ensuring that children get the recommended level of tooth care. In this way, users can look forward to their nightly routine without worrying whether or not they are ‘doing it right’.

Apart from the electronic display, the Time To Brush system works as a toothbrush holder. There are six toothbrush slots, four for traditional and thin brushes and two for thicker, electronic toothbrushes. As a side benefit, there are two floss holders as well as a toothpaste compartment, storing all the tools necessary for a healthy nightly routine. Unfortunately, a product of this quality requires massive funding for its first round of production. To remedy this issue, the Time To Brush team has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Donors will receive anything from Bobby Brush stickers to a first edition Time To Brush toothbrush holder. With the support of readers, toothbrushing does not have to be like pulling teeth; instead, it will be a process children actually enjoy.

To learn more visit the Kickstarter campaign page.