The basics of tooth bottle decay

by MikeMeehan 2/6/2019 1:42 PM

When parents put their little ones to sleep, sometimes they leave them with a bottle. While that might be soothing as they drift off to dreamland, leaving a bottle in the crib can be problematic for tiny teeth. In celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month this February, take a moment to brush up on the basics of baby bottle tooth decay. What is baby bottle tooth decay?Put simply, baby bottle tooth decay means cavities in baby teeth and can begin soon after teeth appear. It occurs when a baby’s teeth are exposed to sugar for extended periods like at naptime or overnight. During this time, sugar pools around teeth and attacks enamel. With enough exposure, it can lead to high amounts of tooth decay. This sugar can be introduced from baby bottles with liquids such as milk, formula or juice.  Why is it a problem if baby teeth are going to fall out anyway?Even though baby bottle tooth decay relates to teeth that eventually fall out, it can still create lasting consequences. Healthy baby teeth are essential for chewing, speaking and smiling. When kids’ oral health is compromised, they may experience difficulty with these important aspects of growing up. Unhealthy baby teeth can also set the stage for tooth crowding or crooked teeth when adult teeth come in. If the problem isn’t addressed, it could lead to pain or infection, so it’s always a good decision to stay vigilant about oral health from the very start.  How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?You have several options to keep your baby’s teeth free from decay. The best way is to avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle. Or, make sure to only fill the bottle with water. No matter what time of day it is, be especially careful about juice because it has high amounts of sugar. Make sure to limit juice intake to no more than six ounces per day for preschoolers and 12 ounces for older children. If you do allow juice, it’s better to serve it in a cup rather than a bottle. Most children should be able to drink out of a cup after their first birthday. Preventive care like brushing and regular checkups is key, as well. Experts recommend scheduling your baby’s first visit within six months of the first tooth and no later than the first birthday. Clean their teeth according to infant dental care recommendations. As soon as baby teeth appear, you should begin brushing them with a baby toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Around age 3 you can begin using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Begin flossing when your child has two teeth that touch. By keeping your baby’s teeth safe now, you can help them develop a happy and healthy smile when their adult teeth appear!

The role a dentist plays in your child’s oral health

by MikeMeehan 1/23/2019 8:54 AM

Schedules may get hectic with school, extracurriculars and homework, but making it to the dentist is always worth it. Dentists play a central role in children’s oral health that goes beyond checking teeth for cavities.  The most obvious benefit dentists provide is preventive care through regular exams and cleanings. During these appointments, dentists or hygienists remove plaque and tartar to prevent the formation of cavities, which is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood. For additional cavity prevention, they can place sealants on teeth that have the highest risk for tooth decay. This preventive care and consistent monitoring help dentists prevent or curb the effects of dental threats like thumb sucking, teeth crowding, fluorosis, neglecting oral health and more.  Dentists are a meaningful part of educating kids on proper oral health habits. While smile maintenance might be straightforward to adults, children have to learn it all from scratch. Dentists understand how their cognition develops and how to properly explain dental care principles in kid-friendly language. They can help convey the importance of brushing, flossing, eating healthy and visiting the dentist. And because parents have the most important role in establishing healthy smiles, dentists advise them on providing proper instruction and how to model good oral health habits. Children’s attitudes toward dental care begin taking shape in early childhood, and dentists can help ensure those attitudes are pleasant. Dentists provide positive reinforcement that creates enjoyable memories of appointments. When the exam is over, dentists often give kids toys or other rewards, and they build a rapport to establish trusting relationships. On the flip side, by preventing cavities and toothaches, the dentist minimizes unpleasant experiences, helping children avoid anxiety toward dental appointments. Finding a dentist you trust early on and maintaining regular visits is an important part of a child’s dental care. It not only helps teeth stay healthy, but it also teaches children the proper way to take care of their smile for years to come.  

Tricks to outsmart your sweet tooth

by MikeMeehan 10/24/2018 10:02 AM

It’s Halloween night, and your kids have returned from trick-or-treating with their sugary loots. Before digging in, consider the cavity-causing effects that candy can have on teeth. Enjoying sweets in moderation and managing your cravings can help you avoid tooth decay. Start taming your sweet tooth by learning how much sugar is OK to eat. The Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, daily for those over the age of 3. Because the sugar contents of fun-sized candies vary from 2.4 grams to 14.5 grams, there’s no general rule for how many you can eat each day. Check the packaging and brand websites to calculate the number of candies you should limit yourself to. And remember to factor in the added sugars from all the other foods and drinks you consume. It adds up fast! If you reach your daily limit but the candy bowl is still tempting you, try these tips to defeat the craving:  1. Chew sugar-free gum. Popping in a stick of sugar-free gum instead of a bonbon helps in a couple ways. A study by Louisiana State University found that chewing gum may reduce snack cravings. It’s also useful for cleaning your mouth. Gum washes away leftover food particles and reduces acids that threaten tooth enamel.  2. Distract yourself when a craving hits. Taking a walk has been shown to reduce the urge to eat treats. Plus, it gets you away from the candy bowl. You know what they say – out of sight, out of mind. And if you don’t feel like taking a stroll, do an activity like giving yourself a pedicure. Pick something fun that rewards you for skipping the sweets.  3. Keep healthy substitutes close by. When you really want something sweet but already ate too much sugar, choose naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables. Apples, cherries, bell peppers, carrots and others will give you the taste you want along with the nutrients you need. 4. Eat at consistent intervals. You might have heard the saying, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Well, that’s especially true when choosing foods. If your tummy’s grumbling, you might make unhealthy decisions like reaching for a candy bar instead of a nutritious snack. Eat every three to five hours to keep blood sugar in check and maintain a level head. 5. Power up with protein. Low protein levels can cause you to start craving sugar. Your body wants an energy boost and sugar is a quick source. Plan to get protein throughout the day with foods such as beans, eggs, nuts, fish and lean meats.  Even with moderation, good oral health habits are still essential for avoiding cavities. Clean your teeth and gums after consuming sugar by brushing for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and flossing. If you aren’t able to sneak away to the bathroom, chew sugar-free gum and drink plenty of water.  

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