We all care about the health of our children. A million questions run through the minds of parents daily. Is my child getting enough to eat? Are they eating the right things? How can I avoid germs? How can I keep my child’s teeth healthy? How long should I allow him or her to have a bottle? A pacifier? These are all good questions! Oral health is so important to the overall well-being of your child that we want to help you clear up some of these pressing questions!
Bottles at Bedtime – A Big No-No!
Many parents are not sure if they need to worry too much about their baby’s teeth during the infant stage. At least, not until they begin to develop teeth! In reality, you may want to get a head start on good oral care even before the first little tooth erupts. Many babies fall asleep with a bottle or breast and the formula or breast milk will pool in the mouth while they nap. The sugars found in formula (and even in breast milk) remain on the teeth and gums, leading to possible tooth decay. After your baby gets his or her first tooth, it is very important to cut out night time feedings. Begin “brushing” the gums with your finger when they are toothless and add a soft washcloth to remove milk after their teeth come in.
Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking – A Necessary Evil?
When you have a fussy baby/toddler, a pacifier or thumb can literally save your sanity. There is a battle in the mind of every mom that debates the damage pacifiers can cause to the mouth and teeth versus the sacred moments of peace that a pacifier offers. The good news is a little thumb/pacifier sucking is ok! In fact, your baby needs this soothing technique in the first year of life. Make it your goal to wean your little one before the age of two and you will avoid the consequences that often come with the use of a pacifier/thumb.
What will happen if pacifier or thumb sucking continues after the baby teeth have erupted? The growth patterns of the jaw can change immensely and cause the teeth to become misaligned significantly. The jaws are developing during the infancy/toddler stage and will form around anything that is held inside the mouth on a regular basis. The upper front teeth can move forward, become crooked or a bite issue may occur. An overbite is a condition where the top teeth are misaligned and overlap the bottom front teeth. An overbite can cause many problems with the teeth and jaws. If you are having trouble getting your little one to let go of his or her pacifier, you may want to begin by taking it away during the day and only giving him or her the pacifier at night. If the thumb is the problem, check with your dentist for suggestions on how to stop thumb sucking.
The Oh-So-Picky Eater – What Can You Do?
Does your child have an aversion to everything healthy? You are not alone! Picky eaters are common and it can be a real challenge to get them to eat foods that are good for them and an even harder challenge to get them to stay away from foods that are bad for them! Ugh! It may seem like an impossible feat, but don’t give up! Your child needs nutritious foods to maintain a healthy mouth and body. So, what is a mom to do?
This is a tough one. Not every suggestion will work for every kid. With that being said, we do have a few tips for that super picky eater:
• Make eating fun! Do this by creating fun designs in the food with cookie cutters, making animals or insects shapes with certain foods and turn dinner time into a game with positive reinforcements.
• Skip dessert. When your child knows that a tasty, sugary dish is going to be served next, they are less likely to try the food on their dinner plate. Leave sweets for special occasions, such as birthdays.
• Hide it! Yes, it is ok to trick your kiddos into eating their veggies. There are several recipes that include ways to add in healthy ingredients. Spaghetti, lasagna, meatloaf and even pizza make great meals for hiding vegetables like squash, tomatoes, carrots and spinach.
• Be a good example. Most kids like to mimic mom or dad, and if they see you eating candy for breakfast, well that is what they are going to want to do! Make eating healthy a family affair and everyone will benefit!
It is recommended that children get an oral examine by six months of age. This may seem young, especially if your child does not have any teeth yet, but beginning oral care early can greatly decrease your child’s chance of getting cavities or gum disease later on. Prevention is always the key to a healthy mouth!