Pediatric Dentistry Q & A

I’ve heard that nursing (especially at night) is linked to cavities – is that true?

The benefits of breastfeeding are far-reaching and well documented. I wholeheartedly support this practice as a food source as well as a bonding opportunity between mother and child. However, once the child has teeth multiple factors contribute to a cavity forming. These include diet (breast milk, formula, baby food, etc), bacteria and time. I encourage all mothers whose children feed during the night to gently wipe the teeth off with a soft cloth before laying the child back to sleep. This ensures that any available food sources for the bacteria to produce acid has been removed lessening the likelihood of cavity formation. Also, a recommended Age 1 Visit to a pediatric dentist will give you an opportunity to discuss and create an individualized oral health care plan for your child to keep their small smiles blooming!

Submitted by Dr. Diana Kozlowski of Growing Grins Pediatric Dentistry

If my child sucks his thumb or uses a pacifier, will that negatively affect how his teeth develop?

The dental effects of nonnutritive sucking are associated with the frequency, intensity, duration and nature of the habit. Oral habits such as prolonged use of pacifiers, digit habit, lip sucking or a blanket sucking habit may apply forces to the teeth and the dentoalveolar structures. The duration of a habit is more important than how hard the child sucks. The greatest impact on tooth position is the resting pressure from the lips, cheeks and tongue. Prolonged habits have been associated with a smaller top jaw, “bucked” teeth and anterior and posterior crossbites. It is advisable that parents help their children stop sucking habits by 36 months or younger.

Submitted by Dr. Michelle Edwards of Children’s Dental Center

My son grinds his teeth at night – should I be worried about this?

This is probably the most asked question on a daily basis in my practice. There are many reasons why a child could be grinding. I take into consideration age – sometimes children “teething,” erupting or losing teeth may grind more for a period of time. Also, sometimes there is a discrepancy with jaw size, this could be one jaw growing faster than the other, or one jaw is back further than the other. If a filling or crown was recently placed and the child is biting higher on that tooth, that can also be the cause. If the tooth/teeth are in the wrong position either with crowding or crossbites, that will do it too. Caries or unrestored treatment can also cause grinding. In all of these cases, your concern should be discussed with your dentist so they can evaluate the circumstances.

Grinding can be the result of the following:
Loose teeth
Malaligned jaws (crossbites, jaw too far forward or back too far)
Crowded or crooked teeth
Dental caries/cavities
A high filling
Stress (if all of the above have been ruled out, look at social issues at school, academics, family issues/changes – these things may also need to be addressed)

Submitted by Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegal of Special Smiles Pediatric Dentistry

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