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Thumb sucking can be an all too common habit for many children. It is also an instinctual, natural reflex for many children as a way to soothe themselves. However, over time thumb sucking can be detrimental to a child’s dental and physical development. While it is perfectly natural and healthy when a child is in its infant stages that same habit can become very problematic as they begin to develop teeth and socialize with others.

Is Thumb Sucking Normal?

Yes! It is quite normal. The thumb sucking can occur even in the womb. As infants, children learn about the world thru putting things in their mouths but eventually it becomes a soothing mechanism to make them feel secure and happy and even help them to fall asleep.

Dental Issues From Thumb Sucking

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics treatment for dental problems caused by thumb sucking is generally needed only in children who continue to suck their thumbs past their fifth birthday.

Thumb Sucking Habit marielaina Perrone DDSOnce the permanent teeth begin to erupt and develop in the mouth, the constant thumb sucking may cause dental issues. The common sign is the top teeth push out and upward, and bottom teeth to push inward. This tooth movement due to thumb sucking can cause the following issues:

-Development of a “buck tooth” appearance

-Inability to close the front teeth (open bite)

-Damage to the roof of the mouth

Speech issues

Pacifiers are known to cause similar issues as thumb sucking but the habit of using the pacifier is a far easier habit to break, it can be thrown out, whereas a finger can not. The determining factor if thumb sucking causes dental problems or not, includes the intensity and length of time of the thumb sucking. Checking a child’s thumb for damaged skin and calluses can help determine the severity of the thumb sucking habit. Many children simply rest their thumbs in their mouth and do not actively suck on them. These children are far less likely to develop any long term dental issues from this type of thumb sucking. Aggressive thumb sucking however will have a higher likelihood of developing issues with their primary and permanent teeth if the thumb sucking habit continues.

Speech problems caused by thumb sucking are related to the misaligned teeth, distorted palate, and tongue thrusting. The tongue does not have the ability to find the correct placement for proper enunciation, and the tongue muscle actually needs to be retrained for proper placement of sounds. Tongue thrusting is the pushing forward motion of the tongue when swallowing, causing a continued pressure on the teeth even when not thumb sucking. Speech problems can include not being able to properly say S’s, T’s and D’s, lisping, and tongue thrusting when talking.

Children who are thumb sucking may need treatment include:

-Those who have not stopped thumb sucking on their own by age 4-5.

Speech problems are becoming noticeable due to thumb sucking.

-Peer Pressure – If they are teased or feel embarrassed socially by their thumb sucking.

Tips For Breaking The Thumb Sucking Habit

Breaking a thumb sucking habit will not be easy. The longer your child does it the harder it is to break them of the thumb sucking habit. The following are some tips to help move the process along and break them of their thumb sucking habit.

Communication. Talk to your child about their thumb sucking habit. Explain how it can affect their teeth and kids might make fun of them. Ask how they feel and what you can do to help? Talk about alternative options when the thumb sucking urge comes on.

-Positive reinforcement. This works wonders with children especially of this age. Simple rewards like extra play time or a trip to the park can go a long way to helping break the thumb sucking habit.

Ignore The Issue. Some kids have a thumb sucking problem as an avenue for attention. I would not recommend this as a long term way of breaking thumb sucking habit but it is worth exploring.

-Offer Up An Alternative. Parents should give their child encouragement and offer to do a different activity when they feel the thumb sucking urge coming on. Could be something like squeezing a pillow or hugging their favorite toy.

Speak To Your Dentist. As an authority figure in your child;s life they may have more impact in this area. Your child may listen to them more intently. Your dentist will also offer dental treatment options. These can include:

-Behavioral Therapy.

-Special Nail Polish. This nail polish will be placed over thumb nail and have a foul taste for your child when they go into thumb sucking habit.

-Thumb sucking device that covers thumb. This will physically make it hard to get comfort when thumb sucking.

-Dental Habit Appliance. This is a custom made dental appliance that will make it impossible for your child to continue thumb sucking comfortably.

Thumb Sucking Conclusion

Breaking your child’s thumb sucking habit will take patience and persistence on both your parts. It is a very difficult habit to break especially the longer it is allowed to continue. If you need help call your dentist. Sometimes a group effort is what is needed. Also, be aware that putting too much pressure on yourself or your child can make matters worse. Best to take a calm, methodical approach.




We are always looking for ways to stop and prevent tooth decay. Most of us are aware of the traditional methods, such as brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. Fortunately, there are dental sealants, a dental procedure which produces significant protection from tooth decay. Dental sealants are a great way to ward off tooth decay in the grooves of our teeth. Many of us have an inherent weakness in the structural formation in the grooves of our teeth. Weakness in the grooves on the top surface of our teeth allows food and bacteria to stick and stay. This creates a highly concentrated environment of cavity causing bacteria which are very difficult to thoroughly remove.  Dental sealants can help young children, teens, and adults prevent cavities.

How Do Dental Sealants Work?

Our teeth are formed with grooves and pits in them that can trap foods. When  food particles become trapped, there is a marked increase in probability of tooth decay. The longer the food debris stays, the more likely it is that tooth decay will begin. With proper dental hygiene, we are able to remove most of the food debris and dental plaque before it does any damage. For many with deeper grooves in their teeth, toothbrushes are unable to adequately get inside of the grooves leaving bacteria and food behind. Sealants are placed to help those with deeper, uncleansable, grooves.

Dental sealants are generally recommended to all children as their permanent premolars and molars erupt into the mouth. The dental sealant is a thin resin that is painted onto the biting surface of teeth. The thin resin then bonds down into the base of the grooves in the tooth’s surface. This resin will fill in those narrow grooves decreasing the chances of tooth decay developing in those teeth. The smooth surface makes it easier for you to maintain good dental hygiene. Even though the chance of tooth decay on the biting surfaces has decreased, tooth decay is still possible. The other surfaces of the teeth are still unprotected and the dental sealant does not last forever. They generally last about 5-8 years before needing to be reapplied.

Dental Sealants Conclusion

Dental sealants are a great preventive method for all ages. The most common cavities are those found in the grooves of our teeth. Dental sealants will definitely decrease the chances of developing tooth decay on the biting surfaces of your premolars and molars. Dental sealants provide you an opportunity to gain an extra edge in the fight against tooth decay. Dental sealants are placed in a painless manner, are relatively inexpensive, and long lasting. Ask your dentist if any of your teeth should be sealed and protected, because not all teeth need sealants. Remember to maintain regular visits to the dentist for dental examinations and professional cleanings.



As our children head back to school, we have a list of items on our checklist to get done. Usually this list includes shopping for new school clothes and buying essential books but dental check ups are often overlooked. Recent research has shown many students falling behind educationally because of poor oral care. During the long summer vacation those regular routines of brushing and flossing often suffer. To help avoid issues popping up during the school year that could potentially lead to loss of classroom time it would be wise to consider a visit to the dentist prior to starting school.

Why Is A Regular Dental Cleaning And Examination Important?

Seeing your dentist regularly has many benefits to an adult as well as a child. What goes on at these visits?

Review Of Medical History. Study after study has shown that there is a direct link between our oral health and our general health. Regularly updating your child’s medical history will keep you up to date to any changes that may be occuring in your child’s health. This allows the dental team to make the necessary adjustments to your child’s treatment. Some of these changes could include changes in medications, recent surgeries or injuries, or even changes in your child’s vitamin routine. What may seem trivial to you could have definite implications to your child’s dental treatment.

Dental X-Rays. Not every routine dental visit will include dental x-rays. For most children, they are recommended to be taken once a year. Dental x-rays give the dentist and hygienist a clearer window into the your dental health. Tooth decay, periodontal disease, and tumors can be detected using x-rays.

Periodontal Examination. This includes examining your glands, periodontal tissues, lips, and tongue to ensure everything looks and feels normal. Routinely, your hygienist will perform a periodontal screening which includes checking around each individual tooth for the presence of bone loss. While advanced periodontal disease is rare in children it can occur. More likely, gingivitis will occur which appears as red, puffy gum tissue that easily bleeds when brushing. This is especially important for teenagers as their hormone levels are changing making them more susceptible to developing periodontal disease. Also, gingivitis can show up in the form of bad breath. Which can be socially awkward for our teens.

Teeth Scaling And Polish. This should include using both ultrasonic instruments as well as hand instruments. The ultrasonic instruments are used to debride and remove debris above the gum line. While hand instruments are used to attack areas below the gum line to ensure all the plaque and tartar are effectively removed. Stains can also be removed using these instruments. And finally, your hygienist will polish your teeth to make them smooth and shiny.

Fluoride Treatment. Fluoride is an important mineral in the health of our teeth. It occurs naturally in many foods as well as water. During the course of our daily lives, our teeth are constantly losing and gaining fluoride through two processes: remineralization (adding fluoride) and demineralization (losing fluoride). When there is more demineralization than remineralization tooth decay occurs.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to attacks from acid, plaque bacteria, and sugars in the mouth. It also has the ability to reverse very early tooth  decay.  It is most definitely important for children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride. This is the time period during which the primary and permanent teeth develop and erupt into the mouth. Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults.

Dental Examination. During this examination your dentist will discuss with the hygienist anything that they may have found during their examination. This is important because the dentist can then pay particular attention to certain areas to ensure the proper treatment plan is developed. Following the examination, your dentist will discuss with you if any treatment is needed.

Patient Education. An educated patient makes the best choices for his/her dental care and this includes children. Therefore this part is just as important as any other part. Your dentist or hygienist might use visual aids, like a disclosing solution, to show areas that you may need work to on at home. Demonstrations of proper flossing and brushing technique may also be shown at this time.

Benefits Of Back To School Dental Visits

Increased Health. Your child will benefit from receiving the best possible dental care in a timely manner before problems get out of hand.

Increased Self Confidence. A healthy smile will increase ones self confidence allowing them to perform better socially and at school.

Increased Educationally Opportunities. By staying on top of their dental health, your children will not be forced to miss classroom time to tend to their dental issues.

Better Focus. Knowing that your dental health is on track will relieve you and your children of any worry as the year progresses.

Conclusion

As you can see above there are many benefits to having your child see your dentist regularly. Best of all you are setting them on a path to maintaining their dental health and their smiles for a lifetime.


Back to school for kids is always a nervous and exciting time for children and parents alike. What teacher will they get? Will their friends be in the in class with them?

One often overlooked item is school lunch and their associated snacks. Most schools these days have certain policies of trying to be more healthy and better educate kids and parents in nutrition.

As you head back to school, keep in mind what kind of foods and beverages you are giving your children to keep them energized going through their day. Many research studies have shown the importance of nutrition and its role in academic success. A good lunch (and healthy breakfast) can give kids the energy they need to stay focused throughout the entire school day.

Some parents choose to pack their children’s lunch box with fruit juice and other sweet drinks such as Gatorade. Cookies, fruit gummies, and candy bars are also chosen quite often for kids lunch snacks. Most children have little to no chance to practice dental hygiene while at school. As a result, these children are placed  at an increased risk for tooth decay. Remember that it is not just how much sugar our kids consume that causes tooth decay it is the length of time the sugar is left in the mouth, and sticky sugars stay the longest.

Tips For Choosing Healthy Lunches and Snacks

Involve your kids in decisions.Make a grocery list, get kids excited about shopping for items for their lunchboxes. Teach them the proper food choices to make and understand why bad choices are bad for them. Also, gives them control of what they are eating. A child who chooses their lunch and helps prepare their own food is more likely to eat it. Colorful, fun wrappings, baggies and containers make items more visually appealing too.

Think High Protein. Chicken, tuna, and egg salads can contain a lot of protein, which is great for a mid day pick me up. Do not use heavy amounts of Mayonnaise, as it is high in fat content. A good substitute many kids love is plain regular or greek yogurt, or olive oil mayo.

Make Whole Wheat, whole grain choices. Try whole wheat bread, pitas, bagels, or sandwich thins to keep sandwiches interesting and healthy. Brown rice, wheat or brown rice pasta,with beans, veggies or cheese,  are a great alternative as well. Whole grains stick with you longer than white flour breads, and are not converted to sugar directly in your mouth as white flour and white rice are.

Vegetables can be FUN! Vegetables can be made interesting for children by pairing them with fun dips. These dips can include low fat ranch, peanut butter, and hummus. Bright colorful pasta salads, and colorful veggie/bean salads are delicious and satisfying.

Keep warm foods warm, cold foods cold with a Thermos, or ice pack. Use a thermos to pack favorite soups (like chicken soup or even meatballs) and leftovers and keep them warm until lunchtime arrives, many snack containers come with convenient re freezable inserts to keep foods cool. Kids love hot meals at lunch in winter time, and cool, refreshing treats in summer.

Make sandwiches interesting. Use a cookie cutter to create fun sandwich shapes like dinosaurs, stars, or even hearts, you can even shape fruits such as pineapple and melon with cookie cutters.

Avoid sweets and candy. Instead of sweets or candy, try fun packs of squeezable applesauce, fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, baked potato chips, wheat pretzels and cheese as snacks.

-If kids buy lunch at school review the school lunch menu at the beginning of the week with your child, and decide with your children the days that they would like to buy lunch and what choices are best for them.

Chew Gum after meal. A chewing gum that is sweetened with xylitol is an excellent way to help prevent cavities.  Chewing gum, helps pull some of the stickier items out from between teeth, it also increases saliva which reduces the acid content in the mouth, and the xylitol inhibits cavity causing bacteria. It is easy to pack a piece of chewing gum in lunch box for a child to chew for a few minutes ( or have them count to 50) after lunch, and a napkin to place it in after chewing. Make sure to instruct them to dispose of gum when discarding other lunch trash, and NOT to bring it to recess. This habit will reduce sugar and acid content in mouth, and lower the risk of tooth decay.

Hope everyone has a great school year and keeps up their dental hygiene and schedules dental examinations as needed.