The following are a view tips that help highlight some important information regarding frequently asked questions from parents.
Flossing helps teeth and gums
By age 2, daily flossing is preferred. It removes food and plaque from between the teeth. Plaque is the sticky yellow substance that forms on teeth after eating things like bread, raisins, cookies and cake and drinking milk or soda. Bacteria grows on the plaque and forms an acid that leads to tooth decay. It can get past the gums, damage the bone and destroy the root.
To floss your child’s teeth, wrap the floss around your fingers and glide it between the teeth in a C-shaped motion. Be gentle! Forcing the floss between teeth can make the gums bleed, which can scare children into thinking that flossing hurts (it shouldn’t). To prevent bacteria from spreading in the mouth, use a new section of floss each time you move between two teeth.
Teeth grinding (or “bruxism”) may sound scary coming from young mouths, but it usually isn’t harmful. Grinding is common in children under age 7 and typically stops when their six-year permanent molars come through.
Pain from an earache or teething, an abnormal bite (the top and bottom teeth don’t meet) or a change in routine – such as a new sibling or school – can cause children to grind their teeth while sleeping. Middle- and high-school-age students may suffer stress-related grinding when they’re facing a major test.
In some cases, a child is angry or unable to verbally express frustration about something. Children who are hyperactive or have certain medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, may also grind.
Tell us about any grinding or jaw clenching that you or family members have noticed. (People often don’t know that they’re doing this.) Also mention if your child complains of a sore jaw or face in the morning or pain when chewing.
Most children outgrow bruxism, but until they do, parental observation and dental visits are needed to keep the situation in check.
Most children outgrow thumb sucking by age 5. If it continues when permanent teeth start coming in, dental or speech problems may occur. Children can develop teeth that stick out or don’t close properly or a lisp. Older children often get teased for thumb sucking, which makes them secretive and ashamed. Stress, anxiety or other emotional issues should be addressed first. Ask your pediatric dentist for advice. Breaking this habit requires patience, love and encouragement from parents and caregivers.
To pull or not to pull loose baby teeth? That’s a question all parents and caregivers face.
Baby teeth should be left alone to fall out naturally. If these teeth are bothersome, encouraging children to do the pulling themselves would be the first option, as they can better control how much discomfort they can tolerate.
Eating apples is an easy and stress-free tool to help the wiggly tooth fall. There are some circumstances when consulting with your pediatric dentist is recommended: If the child is experiencing considerable pain or has special care needs (to avoid risk of aspiration) or has permanent teeth coming out in an undesirable position.
If the whole family enjoys healthy snacks, children will want them, too. A healthy snack is low in sugar and high in nutrients – just what young teeth and mouths need. Keep low-fat string cheese and yogurt, milk and cut fruit and veggies on hand. Let children choose healthy options at the store and mix-and-match them with hummus, low-fat dips or whole-grain crackers. Limit the number of snack times and save “fun foods” for special occasions.
Article originally posted to The Center for Pediatric Dentistry.