405 Frederick Road, Suite 150, Catonsville, MD 21228
Proactive dental care is an essential part of childhood growth. But that care can be much harder for children with chronic health issues than for healthier children.
“Chronic condition” is an umbrella term for any permanent and ongoing health issue. Asthma, Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis, congenital heart defects and many others fall under this umbrella, with varying symptoms and degrees of intensity. But they all have one common characteristic — a long-term effect on all aspects of a child’s health.
That includes the health of a child’s teeth and gums. Here, then, are a few areas where a chronic health condition could impact dental care and treatment.
Ineffective oral hygiene. Some chronic conditions like autism or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that affect behavior or cognitive skills can decrease a child’s ability or willingness to brush or floss; some conditions may also limit their physical ability to perform these tasks. Parents and caregivers may need to seek out tailored training for their child’s needs, or assist them on a regular basis.
Developmental defects. Children with chronic conditions are also more likely to have other developmental problems. For example, a child with Down, Treacher-Collins or Turner syndromes mayÂ be more likely to develop a birth defect called enamel hypoplasia in which not enough tooth enamel develops. Children with this defect must be monitored more closely and frequently for tooth decay.
Special diets and medications. A child with a chronic condition may need to eat different foods at different times as part of their treatment. But different dietary patterns like nutritional shakes or more frequent feedings to boost caloric intake can increase risk for tooth decay. Likewise, children on certain medications may develop lower saliva flow, leading to higher chance of disease. You’ll need to be more alert to the signs of tooth decay if your child is on such a diet or on certain medications, and they may need to see the dentist more often.
While many chronic conditions raise the risk of dental disease, that outcome isn’t inevitable. Working with your dentist and remaining vigilant with good hygiene practices, your special needs child can develop and maintain healthy teeth and gums.
If you would like more information on dental care for children with chronic health conditions, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Managing Tooth Decay in Children with Chronic Diseases.”
One of the biggest concerns we hear from parents is about their child's thumb sucking habit. Our advice: if they're under age 4, there's no need for concern — yet. If they're older, though, you should be concerned about the possible effect on their bite.
Thumb sucking is a universal habit among infants and toddlers and is related to their swallowing pattern during feeding. As they swallow, their tongue thrusts forward to create a seal with the lips around the breast or a bottle nipple. Many pediatricians believe thumb sucking replicates nursing and so has a comforting effect on infants.
Around age 4, though, this swallowing pattern begins to change to accommodate solid food. The tongue now begins to rest at the back of the top front teeth during swallowing (try swallowing now and you'll see). For most children, their thumb sucking habit also fades during this time and eventually stops.
But for whatever reason, some children don't stop. As the habit persists, the tongue continues to thrust forward rather than toward the back of the top front teeth. Over time this can place undue pressure on both upper and lower front teeth and contribute to the development of an open bite, a slight gap between the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are shut.
While late childhood thumb sucking isn't the only cause for an open bite (abnormal bone growth in one jaw is another), the habit is still a prominent factor. That's why it's important that you start encouraging your child to stop thumb sucking around age 3 and no later than 4. This is best accomplished with positive reinforcement like rewards or praise.
If they've continued the habit a few years after they should have stopped, we may also need to check to see if their swallowing mechanism has become stunted. If so, we may need to use certain exercises to retrain their tongue to take the proper position during swallowing.
While you shouldn't panic, it's important to take action to stop thumb sucking before it becomes a long-term problem. A positive, proactive approach will help avoid costly orthodontic problems later in their lives.
If you would like more information about thumb or finger sucking, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”
Many parents do not realize that keeping track of their child’s oral health begins before they have any teeth at all. However, pediatric dentistry is an important part of your child’s oral health and will work toward creating a healthy relationship between your child, the dentist and their teeth, which will last for years to come. Learn more about pediatric dentistry and what makes it important with Dr. M. S. Warshanna at Angel Dental Care in Catonsville, MD.
The Importance of Pediatric Dentistry
Keeping your children’s teeth clean and healthy from the very beginning of their lives will help them embrace the importance of oral health throughout their lives. Additionally, pediatric dentistry helps build a solid foundation to eliminate or decrease the chance of the development of dental anxiety. Your child’s dentist will work with you both to make your experiences and dental appointments fun and exciting.
Taking Care of Your Child’s Teeth
Oral care begins before your child’s first teeth come in. Gently wipe your baby’s gums and oral tissues using a clean, soft, damp cloth twice a day. Take care to never put your baby down to sleep with milk or juice as these leave decay-causing bacteria on the teeth while sleeping. When your child’s first tooth erupts from the gums, begin brushing it and others as they erupt with a soft toothbrush twice a day. Eventually, the teeth grow close enough together to touch. When this occurs, begin flossing your child’s teeth at least once a day.
Your Child’s First Dentist Appointment in Catonsville, MD
Children should see their dentist for the first time by their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts. Like adults, children should see their dentist for routine dental examinations and cleanings at least twice a year. Some children should see their dentist even more frequently. Your dentist can help you determine how often your child should come in for examinations.
For more information on pediatric dentistry, please contact Dr. M. S. Warshanna at Angel Dental Care in Catonsville, MD. Call (410) 747-0077 to schedule your child’s appointment today!
Your child's dental health is just as important as any other aspect of their physical development. That's why we recommend beginning regular dental visits around their first birthday.
Besides getting them used to and comfortable with visiting the dentist, there are other solid reasons for starting this habit by age one. Here are 4 benefits for regular early childhood dental visits.
Disease prevention. Children's teeth are just as susceptible to tooth decay as adults. Even primary (baby) teeth need protection so they can fulfill their role as guides for incoming permanent teeth. Besides monitoring and treatment for decay, we can also perform measures to protect teeth (especially in children at high risk) through topical fluoride applications or sealants.
Bite development. We can get early clues that a child's teeth are not erupting properly and are on the way to developing a poor bite (malocclusion). If so, we can initiate measures to lessen the impact of a developing malocclusion, like installing spacers to help guide an erupting permanent tooth. Early intervention can lessen the extent and cost of later orthodontic treatment.
Accident prevention. Disease isn't the only danger your child's teeth and mouth face. Even young toddlers can suffer mouth injuries falling onto furniture while playing or learning to walk. And the risk doesn't diminish as they get older, especially if they're active in sports. We can advise you on accident prevention tips and help fashion a custom mouth guard for that budding athlete in your family.
Caregiver assistance. The most important aspect of children's dental care is what happens every day at home. We can serve as your dental “coaches” to help you get on the right track with daily brushing and flossing, as well as give you helpful tips on good dietary habits that promote nutrition and deter dental disease. We'll also help you work through other childhood issues like teething, thumb sucking or teeth grinding.
Think of us as your partners when it comes to your child's dental care. We'll do our part, and help you do your part too.
A baby comes with many new responsibilities. With diaper changes and doctor’s appointments on your mind, you may not realize the importance of your child’s dental care. However, dental care is crucial even before your child has any teeth at all. Learn more about at-home children’s dental care and when your child should start visiting the dentist with help from Dr. M. S. Warshanna at Angel Dental Care in Catonsville, MD.
When should my child start visiting the dentist?
The general rule of thumb for the time frame of a child’s first dental visit is within the first six months of the eruption of the first tooth or around the time they turn one. This is important since cavities and decay can form on baby teeth and permanent teeth alike. If a child has a painful tooth, it can affect eating and nutrition. Additionally, primary teeth play an important role in guiding the growing permanent teeth. Aside from keeping the teeth healthy and clean, regular dental visits from an early age help a child become comfortable with visiting the dentist and allows dentists to ensure that the child is hitting their dental growth and development milestones on time.
What can I do to keep my child’s teeth healthy?
A child’s dental visits also provide information for the parent. Keeping your child’s teeth healthy begins at home. Additionally, good oral care habits begin early, and instilling them in your child at an early age makes for a good oral care routine to keep their teeth healthy as they grow into teenagers and adults.
Need more information on children’s dental visits in Catonsville?
For more information on children’s dental appointments or at-home dental care, please contact Dr. Warshanna at Angel Dental Care in Catonsville, MD. Call (410) 747-0077 to schedule your child’s dental appointment today!