Healthy Teeth Affect Your Child’s Future.

apple-1370924_1920Our children are our future. Everyone has heard that saying. But think of it in these terms – our country’s economy, educational system, and culture is contingent upon the health and well-being of our children. Not only that, but our our actions to support them define that future too.

We have only just begun to focus on oral healthcare in a manner appropriate for something that dictates the outcome of our children’s health and happiness.

High-quality dental care affects so much more than your child’s smile. Healthy teeth can promote a confident attitude. Children who suffer from tooth pain and decay are more likely to have lower grades, miss school, and suffer in areas like eating, sleeping, and speaking.

Preventative dental care is important for a child’s success in school and in life.

This isn’t just about ensuring our children have healthy, strong teeth and pretty smiles. It will give them a confidence boost, sure. But the vast majority of dental disease is preventable.

All children deserve access to the complete range of care they need to live healthy, productive lives. Oral health is a strong predictor of overall health. It is important that parents give their children access to quality, preventive dental care.

Helping Your Child Feel Comfortable at the Dentist

dentist-1437430_1920Both children and adults should be visiting the dentist for an exam and a cleaning every 6 months. The problem is, many children don’t make their first visit until after the age recommended by dentists.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1. Unfortunately, a survey by Delta Dental Plans shows that the average age of a child’s first dental visit is 2.6 years.

If you are worried about how your child will respond at their first dental visit, you can take the following steps to make them feel more comfortable and ensure that the visit goes smoothly.

  1. Children learn by example, so be a positive role model. Be diligent about dental care, and your child is more likely to embrace oral hygiene.
  2. Take your child to the dentist when his or her first tooth erupts. This will help your child get used to going to the dentist. It will also help prevent problems that could get worse over time.
  3. Play dentist and read children’s books that describe dental visits. The extra information will help alleviate your child’s fears.
  4. Be supportive and instill trust in your child, but avoid telling him or her that everything will be ok. If a procedure is necessary, telling your child it will be ok could affect the trust he or she has in you. It will also make the dental office an even greater source of anxiety. Instead, offer a hand to squeeze or a hug.
  5. Use positive phrases like “clean, strong, healthy teeth” to make the visit seem upbeat rather than scary.

Using these techniques will make your child’s dental visits more pleasant for everyone and will pave the way for a lifetime of good oral health.

Are you brushing your toddler’s teeth?

family-1254495_1280Brushing your toddler’s teeth can be a bit traumatic. Screaming, crying, hitting… brushing a 2-year-old’s teeth is quite an endeavor. Many parents may ask, “Is this really worth it? Baby teeth are just, like, temporary teeth, right?”

Caring for your child’s baby teeth isn’t optional—it’s essential. Equally as important is taking kids to the dentist at a very young age.

Numbers of cavities among kids have been going down in general, but cavities in baby teeth have become more common over the past 20 years. Today, a whopping 60 percent of 5-year-olds have had at least one cavity before kindergarten. Dental decay is the leading childhood disease! Cavities in baby teeth can also harm the permanent teeth directly, if the tissue in the central portion of the baby tooth gets infected.

If your child’s dentist sees a cavity forming, they can actually reverse the process—which is in part why the organization recommends that parents bring their children to the dentist when they get their first tooth or by the time they turn 1, at the latest.

Pediatric dentists can reverse burgeoning cavities is by applying a fluoride varnish to kids’ teeth, which causes fluoride to be released when the pH of the tooth drops as a result of the acid. The fluoride then helps rebuild the tooth enamel. Fluoride from drinking water and toothpaste can also get incorporated into the tooth enamel itself as it grows, thereby protecting it from future decay.

Pediatric dentists do more than just deal with cavities in young toddlers; they can determine whether kids are doing things that might put them at risk for future cavities. The dentist can also check kids for signs of bigger dental or jaw problems.

Infant visits also give dentists the chance to educate parents on what to expect during teething and how best to care for kids’ teeth. Other important advice you might not have heard: brush your kid’s teeth for them at least once a day until they turn 8 or 9 because the fine motor skills that make for good brushing don’t really develop until about that age. Start flossing when your child’s teeth no longer have space between them, because then the toothbrush isn’t able to reach plaque and debris between the teeth.

Break the Habits

Thumb sucking and nail biting have it’s pro’s and con’s. The only positive side-effect of this particular habit is the exposure to healthy germs. At an early-life stage we reprimand our kids when we see them biting their nails, or sucking their thumb. But researchers have found that exposure to microbial organisms actually reduce the risk of  developing allergies, asthma, and hay fever by teaching the immune system not to overreact. An article that USA Today published back in July of this year, admitted to this hypothesis by stating “At age 13, 38% of children who frequently sucked their thumb or bit their nails had an allergy, compared to 49% of those who didn’t. The study followed up with the children as adults, reporting similar results at age 32.”

To read more on the research pediatrics have concluded click herethumb

Beyond the toddler years, the downside of thumb sucking and nail biting are the following:

  • Depending on the intensity and the duration, these habits interfere with the proper growth of the mouth, shape, and palate, even the shape of their face!
  • Nail biting causes un-natural wear to the enamel.
  • It could also shift the teeth.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises parents to consult with their pediatric dentist should the habit persist after the age of 3.


Prescriptions for Outdoor Activity

The Outdoor Foundation and ParkRx are organizations that promote and support outdoor activities for children.  In an era in which childhood obesity is affecting a third of the youth in this country, organizations that favor good habits for children have our support and endorsement.

soap-bubbles-322212_1920The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 foundation established by Outdoor Industry Association to inspire and grow future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Its vision is to be a driving force behind a massive increase in active outdoor recreation in America. You can learn more about them here.

ParkRx (Park Prescriptions) are programs designed in collaboration among public land agencies, healthcare providers, and community partners to encourage people to utilize parks, trails, and open space for the purpose of improving individual and community health. ParkRx programs give healthcare providers a new set of tools to inspire patients to take proactive steps to improve their health. Parks and public lands are free or low-cost resources in many communities and provide excellent areas to recreate and play. Additionally, parks provide patients with exposure to nature, which has been scientifically proven to improve mental, physical, and social health. Learn more about ParkRx by clicking here.

So why should children play outside? Here are just a few of the health benefits:

  • Builds Up their Immune System: when playing outside, children are exposed to dirt, animals, pests, bacteria and everything else that send modern-day parents running. While we like to think that dirt, animals, pests and bacteria do more harm than good it’s actually the opposite. When your children come into contact with these things in a natural way (outside) and on a regular basis, they are less likely to develop autoimmune disorders and allergies.
  • Provides Exercise: Playing outside provides children with something many children don’t get enough of anymore – exercise. Exercising while having fun is the best kind of exercise, and that’s exactly what playing outside does.
  • Stimulates the Imagination: Sadly, one of the things that today’s children are lacking is an imagination. This is because we’re in the technological age – today children are literally shown everything. Why go outside and play cops and robbers when we can watch a movie about it or play a video game? Playing outside helps children develop their imagination.
  • Promotes Problem Solving Skills: Children who play outside learn how to solve real life problems better than children who are always in their rooms playing video games or secluding themselves.
  • Provides Vitamin D: It’s important that your children get Vitamin D, which is provided by the sun. Vitamin D helps promote better moods, energy levels, memory, overall health and more.

Keep Kids’ Teeth Healthy in the Summer

watermelon-846357_1280Don’t take a break from dental health this summer!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay affects children in the U.S. more than any other chronic, infectious disease.

Children are especially prone to cavities and tooth decay, which can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and even learning.

To combat tooth decay and keep kids’ teeth healthy all summer long, here are some suggestions for families:

  1. Plan healthy breakfasts. Schedules ease up in the summer with kids getting up later in the morning and tending to their own breakfasts. Make sure there is fresh seasonal fruit available for kids to choose over sugary cereals. Hard boiled eggs make a great snack and good source of protein without the sugars so many breakfast meals contain.
  2. Watch the soda intake. Hot summer months and enticing soda commercials can trigger a campaign by kids to get you to bring home the cola. Try to resist and encourage ice water with a lemon slice or other infused fruit to sweeten the deal. Soda is the worst nightmare for your child’s dental health. Do your best to keep it out of the house.
  3. Going on a trip? Pack healthy snacks and drinks. Whether you are going on a day trip to the pool or a longer vacation, it can be difficult to find healthy food options on the go. Vending machines, the ice cream man and the food hut rarely offer non-greasy foods or low-sugar snacks that are good for the body and teeth. Bring the good stuff with you. Fresh strawberries can satisfy the sweet cravings and while there is natural sugar in those as well – you are better off with a berry over a snow cone.
  4. Brush, brush, brush. Summer nights may also come with later bed times. Active days outside in the sun tire us all out and parents need to make sure their sleepy heads tend to their teeth before drifting off at night. Make sure your kids brush after dinner. If they have a snack before bedtime, the last thing in their mouths should be their tooth brushes. Sugar has a field day overnight in a mouth and it’s important for kids to brush and rinse out the day’s meals and snacks before hitting the pillow.
  5. Practice the 3-2-1 rule. Eat 3 healthy meals, brush 2 times and floss 1 time every day.
  6. Schedule a dental checkup. Take advantage of this time when your child won’t have to miss school to get that necessary dental check-up. During your child’s summer check-up, the dental team will likely perform a cleaning, check for any cavities or other oral health problems, and take the opportunity to reinforce the importance of good brushing and flossing habits. Children should get a dental checkup every six months.

Survey says City Kids are at Increased Risk for Eye, Dental Problems

This study was conducted in India, a much poorer country than the United States. But the findings certainly do give pause and food for thought.

NAVI MUMBAI – A recent survey undertaken at a health check up camp in a Sanpada school, threw up some worrying results about the general health condition of the city children.

child-753775_1280Around 600 students were medically examined recently by a panel of doctors from Fortis Hospital Vashi. It was found that 90% of the students had myopic vision, 70-90% suffered from coughs and colds and 90-95% of those screened in the age group of 5 to 6 years, had dental problems.

Also, 70-80% were suffering from respiratory disorders like allergies and asthma.

The Jaipuriar School students who were screened for dental problems, 90-95% were found to have severe dental problems including caries and tooth decay.

The students ranged from nursery to Class X and the camp was to identify dental, vision-related and paediatric problems.

The doctors were taken aback by the findings, as neither students or parents were aware of these health issues.

Dr. Bipin Chevale, facility director of the hospital said, “The finding is a cause of concern. Children of all ages are susceptible to infections and diseases, most of which go undetected as they are ignored by the adults. While most of these problems identified are seemingly minor, they can become serious if not controlled in time.”
The eye check-up results of the students were also serious, as 90% of those screened suffered from myopic (short-sighted) vision. Among others, 5% students had reflective errors (blurry vision); 2% were suffering from hypermetropia (long-sightedness); 8% had astigmatisam (seeing distorted images) and about 2% had squint.
The doctors, along with their teams, who were part of the camp were ophthalmologist Dr. Harshwardhan Ghorpade, pediatrician Dr. Shatdeepa Goswami and Dr. Ajay Mathur, who heads the dental department at the hospital.

Working with Your Child’s Pediatrician for Better Dental Health

There are a few organizations that set forth guidelines for dentists. The most well-known one is probably the American Dental Association. But there’s also the American Academy of Pediatrics. Both of these organizations provide education, training, and advocacy for pediatricians, dentists, other health professionals, and families.

brush2The most important function of these organizations is improving children’s oral health and strategies.

Pediatricians, family physicians, and other primary care clinicians are well positioned to improve the oral health of children. They see infants and young children frequently in the early years of life when prevention is critical and lifelong habits are being established. Family medicine is America’s largest primary medical care specialty, with 105,000 family physicians providing care for over one third of America’s children particularly in rural and underserved areas. General pediatricians, numbering 45,000, care for a broad cross-section of children. By acquiring the skills to conduct oral exams, apply preventive strategies, counsel caregivers, and appropriately refer patients to dentists, primary care clinicians can help eliminate oral health disparities.

West Maple Dental Specialists follows the guidelines recommended by the ADA and AAP so that we can make a difference by improving communication and collaboration between ourselves and our patients. We work with many area pediatricians and other health professionals to create a strong oral health team!

  • Early childhood caries (cavities) is the number 1 chronic disease affecting young children.
  • Early childhood caries is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever.
  • Tooth pain keeps many children home from school or distracted from learning.
  • Children are recommended to have their first dental visit by age 1.

Even Baby Steps will Protect Your Infant’s Teeth

brushing-teeth-787630_1920Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease.

It’s best to start dental care when your child is an infant. Most parents are aware of common childhood illnesses like coughs, colds, and ear infections. However, tooth decay can affect a child’s overall health and is completely preventable! The health of an infant’s baby teeth is so important when it comes to their permanent teeth’s healthy growth.

Infant Dental Care

As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, he or she is at risk for tooth decay. Protecting their dental health starts even earlier than you may think – before that first tooth even emerges! One preventative step you can take is to avoid putting your baby to bed with formula or fruit juice. Use water instead. And after each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean (damp) washcloth or gauze pad.

When that first tooth appears, help your child get into the habit of teeth brushing. Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day. Remember to use a small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste or just water. Floss your infant’s baby teeth. When two baby teeth erupt side by side, gently floss them at least once a day. And lastly, start thinking about the best time to wean your infant from the bottle. Most pediatricians and dentists recommend weaning your child from the bottle by the age of 1.

Baby’s Dental Cavities

Since baby teeth are going to fall out eventually, there’s no need to spend the time or money on cavity fillings, right? Unfortunately, this is a common mistake. Decayed baby teeth can cause infections that could damage the underlying permanent teeth. Plus, an untreated cavity can eventually lead to the need for a root canal or tooth extraction. If a baby tooth is lost too early, the teeth beside it may drift into the empty space. There may not be enough room left when it’s time for the permanent teeth to come in, with the result being crowded or crooked teeth. Temporary doesn’t mean unimportant.

Thumb Sucking may have a Small Benefit for Kids

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows children who bite their nails and suck their thumbs are about one-third less likely to develop certain allergies.

640px-Self_soothingResearchers say the findings may be another example of what’s called the hygiene hypothesis, the idea that being overly clean and avoiding exposure to the microbes in the environment may increase a child’s risk of allergies.

For the study, researchers measured the thumb-sucking and nail-biting habits of over 1,000 children in New Zealand at ages 5, 7, 9 and 11. Skin-prick allergy tests were then performed on the subjects when they were 13 and 32 years old.

An analysis showed that of all the children, 31 percent were frequent thumb suckers or nail biters.

When they were tested at age 13, the number of children showing sensitivities toward allergens was lower among those who had sucked their thumbs or bitten their nails — about 38 percent — compared with those who did not, at 49 percent.

The association remained present at age 32, despite other factors that could have influenced allergic sensitivities, including the person’s sex, parental history of allergies, pet ownership, breast-feeding, and parental smoking.

However, the findings don’t necessarily mean parents should start telling their kids to bite their nails or suck their thumb. The American Dental Association advises that while thumb- or finger-sucking is a natural reflex in young children, intense sucking can cause problems with a child’s tooth alignment.

The team at West Maple Dental Specialists works hard with our patients to break thumb-sucking and pacifier habits to benefit children’s overall oral health.