Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S. - 220 North Washington Ave., Cookeville, TN 38501 (931)526-2613

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Posts for tag: pediatric dentistry

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
October 31, 2012
Category: Oral Health
SomeFactsAboutThumbSucking

It may alarm some people, but finger or thumb sucking is a completely normal activity for babies and young children. In fact, sonograms often reveal babies sucking a finger or thumb while still in the womb! However, if children are allowed to suck fingers, thumbs or pacifiers indefinitely, it can become problematic, with serious consequences particularly as they get older.

The list below contains important facts about thumb sucking and pacifiers that all parents of young infants should know.

  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents and caregivers encourage children to stop thumb sucking by age 3.
  • Recent studies have shown that pacifier use after the age of two may cause long-term changes in the mouth; thus these researchers recommend stopping pacifier use by 18 months.
  • If thumb and finger sucking habits do not stop soon enough, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come into the correct position in the mouth.
  • Most children who suck their thumbs or fingers tend to stop between the ages of 2 and 4.
  • For obvious reasons, a pacifier habit is often easier to break than a finger or thumb-sucking habit.
  • One tip for encouraging older children to stop this habit gradually is to use behavior modification with appropriate rewards given at pre-determined intervals to refrain from using a pacifier, or sucking fingers or a thumb.

Be sure to inform us if any of your children suck their fingers, thumb or a pacifier so that we can begin monitoring their development. Our general recommendation is that you schedule an appointment around your child's first birthday.

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
October 03, 2012
Category: Oral Health
CanThumbSuckingHarmYourChildsTeeth

Sucking their fingers or thumbs makes young babies feel secure and is completely normal behavior. Babies have been observed to suck their fingers or thumbs even before they are born. But like many comforting habits, over-doing pacifier, thumb, or finger sucking habits may be harmful.

Stop Pacifier Use by 18 Months

Studies have shown that pacifier use after the age of two may cause long-term changes in a child's mouth. We recommend that pacifier use should stop by about 18 months. A pacifier habit is often easier to break than finger or thumb sucking.

Stop Thumb and Finger Sucking by Age Three

Most children naturally stop thumb and finger sucking between two and four years of age, but some children continue this habit much longer. This may cause their upper front teeth to tip towards their lips or to come into position improperly. It can also cause their upper jaw to develop incorrectly. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children stop these habits by age three.

Use of Behavior Management to Encourage Quitting

We offer creative strategies for gentle ways to cut back and stop pacifier use, including behavior management techniques that use appropriate rewards given at predetermined intervals. Meanwhile, make periodic appointments with us to carefully watch the way your child's teeth and jaws develop.

When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, just talking about what may happen to teeth as a result can often encourage him/her to quit. As a last resort, a mouth appliance that blocks sucking may be needed.

If you are worried about your child sucking a pacifier, thumb, or fingers, please visit us to put your mind at rest. For more information read “Thumb Sucking in Children” in Dear Doctor magazine. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about children's thumb sucking.

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
September 18, 2012
Category: Oral Health
TestingyourKnowledgeontheFactsandMythsofThumbSucking

For many children, thumb sucking is a great source of comfort. However, for some parents, it sets off potential red flags. See how much you really know about thumb sucking by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.

  1. Thumb or finger sucking is a totally normal behavior for babies and young children that should not cause any concerns for parents or caregivers.
    True or False
  2. One of the main reasons babies and young children suck their thumbs or fingers is that it provides a sense of security.
    True or False
  3. Sonograms have revealed that some babies actually begin sucking their fingers or thumbs in their mother's womb, before they are even born.
    True or False
  4. Recent research has shown that children using a pacifier after the age of four may cause long-term changes in the mouth.
    True or False
  5. Most children who suck their fingers or thumb tend to stop this habit on their own between the ages of two and four.
    True or False
  6. One of the biggest myths about thumb sucking is that it can cause buck teeth (the teeth tip outwards towards the lips).
    True or False
  7. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children stop using a pacifier and/or thumb or finger sucking by the age of three; however some recent studies suggest that this should stop as early as 18 months of age.
    True or False
  8. Breaking a pacifier habit is often much more difficult to break than a finger or thumb sucking habit.
    True or False
  9. Dipping a pacifier, finger or thumb in vinegar is a recommended way of stopping the habit.
    True or False
  10. For the most challenging cases, we may suggest that your child needs a mouth appliance that a blocks sucking habits.
    True or False

Answers: 1) False. While it is a totally natural habit, parents and caregivers should monitor thumb or finger sucking. 2) True. 3) True. 4) False. It is not age 4, but rather age 2. 5) True. 6) False. This is NOT a myth but rather a fact. 7) True. 8) False. It is easier. 9) True. 10) True.

If you are having trouble getting your child to stop using a pacifier, thumb or finger sucking habit, we are an excellent resource for working with you and your child to accomplish this goal. To learn more on this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Thumb Sucking in Children.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions.

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
February 16, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
SealYourChildrensTeethfromDecay

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could put up a protective shield to guard your children's teeth from decay? Think of the time and money you would save, not to mention the pain your children would avoid. Well, it turns out that you can put up such a protective shield — or at least, we, your dental professionals, can.

The natural protective mineral coating (the enamel) of a child's new teeth is more permeable to the acids that dissolve minerals and cause decay, so the new teeth are more vulnerable to tooth decay than mature teeth are. As a tooth's enamel matures it becomes more resistant and stronger. Thus it is important to protect the surfaces of the new teeth when they erupt (grow up through the child's gums).

The back teeth, particularly, often erupt with deep grooves in them. The backs of the top front teeth may also have such grooves, which dentists call “pits and fissures.” When the grooves are deep, they are hard to keep clean. Toothbrush bristles may not be able to reach to the bottoms of the grooves; and bacteria may gather in them, releasing acid byproducts that dissolve tooth enamel and start forming decay.

Dental sealants are among the preventive options we have in the war against decay in your child's new teeth. Regular tooth brushing and flossing, regular dental visits, application of fluoride, and low sugar consumption are also important in decay prevention techniques.

Sealants are protective coatings placed in the tiny pits and fissures to seal them off from bacterial attack. Some dentists routinely seal all permanent molar teeth and many primary (baby) molar teeth soon after they erupt.

Some dentists use sealants only when an examination shows that decay is just starting or very likely to start in a particular tooth. In such cases a minimal amount of tooth enamel is removed to eliminate any decay, and a mini-resin, invisible filling is applied.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental sealants for your children. You can learn more about them by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sealants for Children.”