When Should Your Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb?

Because of humans’ protective nature over their friends, family members, partners, and even colleagues, we worry a lot about things. And usually, we have reason to worry. But when you sit down and give it a quick thought, you should realize that all of these people can take care of themselves (mostly). Children, however, are a different story. Especially infants. No matter what happens or how safe they are, you will worry infinitely about your kids, because you are their protectors, their providers, and their means of a healthy life.

But sometimes, you can be so protective that you don’t realize you’re letting your child do something harmful to themselves. One of those habits worth kicking after a certain amount of time? Thumb and pacifier sucking. It’s important to keep in mind that thumb sucking is a natural reflex for infants, though. It begins before your child is even born, so the fact that infants still put their thumb or something else in their mouth is completely normal: it makes them feel safe (as if they were still in the womb).

The same goes for young children, too. If they get scared or anxious, they may pop their thumb in their mouth in habit. But if it’s only for a quick period of time, there’s not much to worry about. The problem, however, is when the thumb sucking becomes prolonged. It can cause the mouth to grow improperly and even affect the alignment of their teeth. The roof of the mouth may also become affected, causing it to be misshapen. So it’s important to look at how your child sucks their thumb. If it’s relaxed and mostly just resting in their mouth, that won’t cause much harm. But if they vigorously suck on their thumb and you can see it happening, they may experience more difficulty with their teeth as they age.

All you have to remember is that, if it continues, you should something over the thumb or even have your dentist prescribe a device to put in their mouth to help avoid thumb sucking. It may pain you to see this restriction in place, but it’s well worth the problems you’ll be avoiding for your children down the road. Ultimately, we do the things we do for the health and safety of our kids, and sometimes that means doing “unpleasant” things in the time being to help them with their future.

What’s a Water Pick?

Dental problems can cause a lot of other issues to happen all because you didn’t brush your teeth well enough in the recent past. Cavities begin to emerge. Your gums start bleeding. The next thing you know, you have a few teeth that need pulled entirely and your breath chronically smells bad.

Basically, one issue will end up causing more to pop up if you don’t take care of your mouth and your teeth. The good thing is that most of your dental issues are reversible, even if they get pretty bad. The bad thing is that it can hurt, cause you to have to spend a lot of money, and even damage other parts of your body if you’re not careful.

But let’s talk about one of the most common issues Americans deal with on a health basis in general: gingivitis.

You’ve likely heard of the term. But do you know what it means?

Basically, it’s gum disease. And what happens is that plaque gets into your gum line, causing it to recede, be much weaker, bleed when you brush, and can cause other side effects like bad breath and periodontitis. And trust me, you do not want it to get to the periodontitis stage.

Luckily, gingivitis is reversible so long as you tell your dentist you think you may have the onset of gum disease (or let them tell you so long as you’re visiting regularly).

They may do some dental work to help get the reversal started. They may also recommend something called a water pick. I actually just recently found out about water picks when a buddy mentioned he was using one. I knew I had to get one of my own ASAP to help with my own slight gum disease problem.

Here’s how they work:

Fill the reservoir

You first need to fill it up with water so that the device can spray water at your teeth to do the work it needs.

Start with the lowest pressure setting

You don’t want your mouth to bleed even more because you used such a high pressure setting that it cuts your gums. Start low and gradually raise it when your mouth can handle it.

Keep your mouth closed over it

You don’t want water to splash everywhere and get all over the place, but you also can’t completely close your mouth on the water pick.

Aim at your gumline

This is where all the magic happens. By aiming at your gums, you can slowly (and I mean over the period of a few months) reverse the gum disease that has set in under your gum line.

What Is Glass Ionomer Sealant

We all know how effective the dental sealants can be in in order to prevent tooth decay. With the passage of time, new materials are also joining the process. The newer discovery in this regard is the ionomer sealant.

Sealants are usually applied to the erupting molars because it is hard for the children to clean those teeth with the help of brushing. Sealants fill the pits and fissures on those teeth, preventing them from getting decayed at the depths of the pits.

Materials used in the glass ionomer sealants are pretty different as compared to the normal sealants. Moreover, the process of application is also not the same.

Glass ionomer

You may wonder what glass ionomer is. It is basically a mixture of several materials such as liquid acid, glass powder and water. Acid in the mixture reacts with the glass powder, and this process makes the material stick with the wet surface of teeth. It also allows the water to pass through. In case you are going to traditional sealants, you will need to get the surface dried out before the solution is applied. Glass ionomer sealant doesn’t need the water to be dried out. It also dissolves in the mouth’s moist environment. Therefore, it is not the permanent solution for sealing the teeth.

Sealing the teeth

The sealant applied to the teeth must form proper seal. If it doesn’t, the bacteria can pass through the open ways and cause decay to the exposed portions of the teeth’s surfaces. In case, you are going for the application of resin-based sealants, you will need to get your teeth etched, cleaned and thoroughly dried before the sealant is applied. Fulfilling these prerequisites is important and it can be quite challenging.

Glass ionomer sealant can form the seal in pretty good way when there is no way you can dry out the tooth’s surface to be sealed. Moreover, the application of these sealants is also helpful when the fissures are too deeper.

Fluoride release

The best thing about glass ionomer sealant is that it releases the fluoride, which can be pretty helpful in the strengthening of the tooth enamel. Therefore, the reduced longevity of glass ionomer sealants may seem like a downside but the process of dissolution actually results in the release of fluoride ions, which can be pretty helpful in the strengthening of your teeth.

If you think that you or your child requires dental sealants, you need to talk to your dentist in order to determine what kind of sealant you can go for.

Benefits of Sealing the Back Teeth

Maintaining dental health of children can be a challenge because they are naturally careless about it. One of the simplest ways to prevent their teeth from developing decay is to get their back teeth sealed. Back teeth have broader chewing surface which normally has pits and fissures on it. These pits and fissures can become a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Sealing these fissures mainly refers to the filling of sealants in them so that the bacterial buildup can be prevented in the area.

A few benefits of sealing the teeth are worth mentioning in this regard.

Application at early stage

Ideally, you need to get your children’s back teeth sealed at very early age. The permanent molars start erupting at the age of 5 – 7 years. This is the perfect time you can take your child to the dentist to get his newly erupted back teeth sealed. Second molars erupt at the age of 11 – 14 years. You can take your kids to the children to the dentist for sealant application once again. The process of application of sealants is quite painless; and it protects your child’s teeth against decay for years.

The sealing of pits and fissures

As mentioned above, there are pits and fissures on the surface of back teeth. These pits and fissures can be become home to bacteria that can further lead to tooth decay. These pits and fissures normally cannot be cleaned with brushing because bristles of toothbrush cannot reach in the depth of these fissures. When the sealant material is filled in the fissures and pits, they can no longer host bacteria. Hence, there is going to be no decay in the depths.

Avoiding the buildup of plaque

Since children do not have good sense about maintaining their oral hygiene, they are not going to brush their back teeth thoroughly no matter how well you teach them to brush. Thus, there is always the chance of building up of plaque on those back teeth. Getting those teeth sealed in the early stages can be quite helpful because this hardened sealant material is going to resist the buildup of plaque.

Prevention of several dental diseases

Since sealants protect tooth enamel from plaque which contains bacteria, the teeth are not going to be decayed. Remember, there are a number of dental health problems which tend to occur when you do not prevent the building up of plaque on the teeth. Some of those diseases may include:

  • Early gum diseases, also called gingivitis
  • Destruction of tooth enamel
  • Cavities

Better dental health

With the types of benefits sealants provide, you will be able to ensure better oral and dental health of your kids. However, you have to keep one thing in mind that application of sealants doesn’t eliminate the need of taking care of oral hygiene on daily basis. Moreover, you will have to make sure that you take your kids to the dentist twice in every year.