It’s been more than two years since we started this orthodontics blog. Writing it has been a lot of fun, and we hope you enjoy reading! In recognition of this milestone, we thought we’d revisit some of our favourite posts of 2016. Enjoy.
Kids & sport
There are lots of reasons why children should play sport. It keeps them physically fit and also teaches teamwork and social skills. These days, there are too many children becoming obese and socially inept due to excessive online activity. So, you don’t want your child side-lined because they’ve had dental braces fitted. The solution is a mouth guard. If your child wears one, there is no reason why they shouldn’t play sports while also wearing braces. With this in mind, in January we published My child wears dental braces. Can they still play sport?
There’s more to nice teeth than you think
“You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” as the saying goes. And no, you shouldn’t, but society does anyway. It’s a hard fact of life. And, unfortunately, the way others perceive us also affects how we feel about ourselves. So, there is more to a nice smile than looking good — psychological factors also come into play. That’s what our May post, How your smile can affect your physical & mental health, is about.
Does Richie really do that?
Top sportspeople have a big influence on many Kiwi kids. In June, we were shocked to learn of a five-year-old All Blacks fan who had to have rotten teeth removed. The cause of the decay was his taste for sports drink Powerade. In fact, he was sipping on the stuff when he arrived at the dental clinic to get his teeth pulled out. What were his parents thinking? Anyway, when asked why he drank Powerade, he said because Richie McCaw drinks it. Read our June post, Drink sports drinks: Is that really what Richie does?
It’s never too late
These days, it’s not unusual for adults to get dental braces. In fact, our oldest patient was about 65 years of age. It seems braces are no longer a ‘fashion accessory’ exclusively for teenagers. So, why are older people getting braces? Well, teeth move over time. Also, many people who couldn’t afford braces when they were younger can as adults. So, why not do something about those crooked teeth? We discussed the trend of older people getting braces in our July post, Am I too old for dental braces?
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At Turner Lim Orthodontists, patients often ask whether pacifiers can cause harm to their children. In this post, we address the concerns.
Sucking is natural
The desire to suck is normal. After all, it’s how babies eat. Most babies lose the urge after about six months; however, some continue to comfort themselves.
Problems can arise when the habit continues for too long. Pacifiers can affect tooth alignment if your child continues sucking after two to four years of age. The good news, though, is if your child ‘kicks the habit’ before her baby teeth start to fall out (around six or seven), it’s likely that her bite will correct itself.
Most dental professionals believe that a pacifier is better for a child than her thumb — simply because it’s easier to give up.
To be sure there is no lasting damage, it pays to limit your child’s pacifier time or even take it away after her first year.
What damage can a pacifier do?
Here are some of the negative effects of sucking a pacifier or thumb for too long:
- Top front teeth can slope outwards, and bottom front teeth slope inwards.
- The child’s upper and lower jaws can become misaligned.
- The roof of the child’s mouth can become narrower.
To reduce any possible damage to your child’s teeth, consider getting an orthodontic pacifier. Research shows that they cause fewer bite problems than the traditional type.
With a nipple that is rounded at the top and flat at the bottom, an orthodontic pacifier supports the form of a baby’s growing palate and jaw. Like a mother’s nipple, it flattens in the mouth to provide a natural sucking action and create less pressure on gums and teeth.
Where can you get one?
We don’t supply orthodontic pacifiers at Turner Lim. However, they are readily available from baby shops and some dentists.
5 yips for giving up a pacifier
If you feel it’s time for your child to give up her pacifier, here are five things you can try:
- Praise your child for not sucking her pacifier or thumb.
- Make her feel secure, so she doesn’t slip into old habits.
- Get your dentist or orthodontist to show your child what can happen if she doesn’t stop.
- Create a sticker chart to mark your child’s progress.
- Make sure the rest of your family backs you up.
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Does your child suck their thumb? Don’t panic; it’s natural—ultrasound shows that babies suck their thumbs even before they are born! And around 50% of children indulge in thumb or finger sucking at some stage. However, if your child does suck their thumb, it is important they don’t do it for too long.
The damage thumb sucking causes
The pressure caused by sucking can push a child’s teeth out and away from each other causing them to stick out. It can also damage the structure of the roof of a child’s mouth.
In reality, thumb sucking causes very little — if any — damage during a child’s early years. However, if they continue the habit when their adult teeth begin to erupt (at around six or seven years of age), they can experience the problems described later on.
To get an idea of the extent of your child’s habit, inspect their fingers or thumbs — you may see calluses or blisters.
Why do children suck their thumbs?
Babies are hard-wired to suck — it’s how they eat. Most babies, though, stop sucking their thumbs at around six months of age. Children who continue sucking their thumbs for longer usually do so when tired, bored or need comfort. It’s not having something in their mouth that they like, rather the pleasure they receive from sucking.
How to stop the habit
There are several things you can do to nip the habit in the bud. For example, you can try “mind games”, and tell your child that Santa’s security cameras are watching, so they had better stop if they want to stay off Santa’s naughty list. Not exactly honest, but it can work..
Here are some other solutions:
- Varnish — apply a varnish, which tastes really bad, to your child’s fingers or thumbs. Unfortunately, it’s not too hard to lick off, though.
- Old sock — put a smelly old sock on your child’s hand. Most little girls particularly are horrified by the thought of going anywhere near a smelly old sock.
- Pretty ring — give your daughter a ring to wear on the offending finger or thumb. Her desire to look after the ring can discourage her from thumb or finger sucking.
- Thumb guard — this is an oversized silicon tube that fits over the thumb. It is attached to a clip on a child’s wrist, which prevents them from taking it off. Of course, your child can still put the tube in their mouth, but they won’t enjoy the sucking sensation.
- Thumb crib — your orthodontist can attach a thumb crib to your child’s top molars. It is like a little gate that acts as a reminder that no thumbs are allowed.
So, there are several ways to prevent a child sucking their fingers or thumb. Some may seem a little drastic, a bit sneaky, but if they prevent problems later on, they’re well worth it.
What do you think? Can you suggest any other ways to prevent thumb sucking? We welcome your comments.