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Kick the Thumb Sucking Habit!

 It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it!

Babies are born with a very strong instinct to suck, which is often evident even in the womb. Of course, this is necessary for successful feeding and there are distinctive actions that are associated with this need such as a rooting (search for breast) reflex, turning the head, sticking out their tongues, hand to mouth reflex, and fussing. This natural behaviour in babies can lead parents to think that their baby is hungry or not getting enough to eat.

 

These actions ensure a baby’s survival, and although the sucking action can be a complicated task at first, with practice, it usually becomes a skill that they master well. It’s actually the hand/finger to mouth instinct that, if it turns from a reflexive to a soothing action, should be monitored so that it doesn’t turn into a behavioural habit.

 

Depending on which “expert” you read, this type of self-soothing can be a calming strategy, a sign of a deeper rooted emotional issue or an early addiction. Addiction seems to be a rather harsh assessment of a natural, self-preservation action, but nonetheless, it is a habit that can be physically destructive to the developing mouth, jaws and teeth and this is what dentists are concerned with. What may start out as a good night sleep for both children and parents and the subject of many “cute” Kodak moments (over 14,000 public posts on Instagram) can turn into a habit-breaking nightmare.

 


“If thumb sucking persists, it can drastically change the developmental pattern of the teeth and jaws
causing open bite, protrusion and misalignment.”


 

We see the after affects of thumb sucking and finding the best suited, habit-correcting solution for your child requires patience and determination from everyone concerned. Many parents, who were initially told that this habit will correct itself naturally before their child enters kindergarten, will be the first to say that they wished they had taken measures to stop it earlier. Most agree that, if they could turn back time, they would have helped their child find another self-coping alternative rather than allow the thumb sucking to become a comfortable or entertaining habit.

 

There are a variety of habit-correcting appliances on the market that can be made by your dentist or, alternatively, there are products that are placed over the hand/fingers. All are designed to make it more difficult for your child to enjoy this habit and nip it in the bud before any orthodontic or speech problems develop.

 
All children are different and only you know your child best. Your dentist will help you explore the options available and help you choose one. Certainly, the more entrenched the habit is, the more difficult it may be to correct. Sometimes, it takes more than one method to find the one that works best for you and your child.

 

Tips to Help Your Child:

1. Begin the conversation – Help them to decide to quit by speaking with them about their habit and understand it’s harmful affects. Discuss germs, dental growth, speech problems, maturity, show them pictures and online videos, etc. Stay positive so that they can visualize the healthy outcome.

 

2. Plant the seeds of success – Words are your best ally. Use positive motivational phrases to inspire and empower them.

 

3. Reward – Rewards are incentives that help motivate and compliment their efforts. It could be smaller daily rewards as well as larger ones at key milestones that you have mutually agreed upon. It will not only add encouragement, but give them something to look forward to.

 

4. Progress Charts – Oftentimes, we have to break up our undertaking into a series of smaller goals. Have your child make up a chart with stickers to keep track of their progress and setbacks. Provide them with a reward every time they reach a pre-arranged goal. Understanding that this is a work in progress helps them top appreciate that anything that is worth having is worth working for.

 

5. Replace Habit – Help your child choose a healthy alternative to thumb sucking for self-soothing. It could be a soft, cuddly toy/blanket, an age-appropriate meditative exercise, or just some extra hugs and cuddles.

 

6. Identify – Knowing when and where your child enjoys the habit can help you be more effective in your approaches to curb the habit and help you substitute distractions or find creative solutions. Point out to your child when the habit is occurring so that they will learn to become self-aware and begin to recognise it on their own.

  

We understand. More often than not, the power struggle between parent and child becomes very real when the child is not a willing participant in breaking this habit. Finding the right balance of support and guidance without scolding can try even the most patient parent. 

If you are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking or any other dental issue, we are just a phone call away at (905) 5SMILES. We can help you find a solution even if it’s just having a caring conversation with your child to reinforce your efforts at home.

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Tips for Invisalign (Invisible) Braces

What you Need to Know

Are you one of the many individuals choosing the option of wearing invisible braces for straightening your teeth?

Known by their brand name, Invisalign®, these popular clear braces are the new modern way for your dentist to rearrange crooked, misaligned teeth.

Although, this modern choice for braces seems like a miracle solution for those who would rather have their teeth straightened discreetly, it nonetheless comes with its own set of complications that we will address today.

Like anything that is accomplished over a period of time, there is a process involved which takes time to become accustomed to. Understanding and dedicating yourself to this process will help you achieve the end results you are looking for.

 

How does Invisalign work?

Patients wear a series of clear, plastic, custom-made trays over their teeth 20 to 22 hours a day. This leaves you with 2 – 4 hours for eating and oral hygiene. Each set of trays are designed to gently exert pressure on the teeth to rearrange their positions. As teeth move, the trays are replaced with new ones every two to three weeks until treatment is complete.

 

Wearing Time

wearing-timeInvisalign are worn almost all day long – 20 to 22 hours – everyday. The trays are changed every 2-3 weeks to accommodate tooth movement depending on the complexity of treatment and wearing time may be evaluated as treatment progresses.  You will be shortchanging yourself in terms of time and money if you neglect to understand the importance of the mandatory wearing time.

Pros: By wearing them for the recommended time, your teeth will move as expected and your aligning trays  will not feel uncomfortable doing movement.

Cons: If you leave your aligners off for extended periods of time, they will feel tighter and more uncomfortable when you put them on your teeth again. If you do not commit to wearing them for the recommended hours per day, treatment time will take longer than initially planned and you may not get the results you were hoping for.

Cleaning

For the health of your teeth, gums and other parts of your mouth, cleaning your aligners throughout the day, especially after eating, is an essential part of treatment.

Pros: The upside to keeping your aligners clean is a healthy mouth.

Cons: Bacteria, plaque, food debris and  staining can easily accumulate unnoticeably if you forget to keep your trays clean. Dirty trays can lead to sore and bleeding gums, tooth decay, bad breath, tooth stains and sore throats. Your dentist will advise you on how to keep your trays clean. One patient told us that they use Listerine to rinse their trays after cleaning as it stains any residue or buildup that was not cleaned off.

 

A higher risk of Tooth Decay is one of the major
drawbacks of Invisalign

Cavities

When you decide that you want great looking teeth, you are making an considerable investment in time, money, and most importantly, in your personal appearance and the health of your teeth. Your journey with orthodontic braces requires you to make a commitment, not only to the process of wearing and caring for your trays, but to being diligent about your oral hygiene.

Pros: Caring for your trays and your teeth during the process will ensure that your new smile is a healthy one!

Cons: If you have found that avoiding cavities in the past has been a challenge for you, wearing clear braces will only complicate your efforts. Saliva cannot get to the tooth surfaces to naturally cleanse your teeth when they are covered with the trays all day long. Tooth decay is one major drawback to these braces and there have been many, many, disastrous cases where patients have not only achieved the straight teeth they were dreaming of, but a mouth full of cavities also! You MUST understand that there is a high incidence of tooth decay that can occur with covering your teeth for upwards of 22 hours a day if you do not have a strict oral hygiene routine.

 

Eating

You have to remove your trays to eat then clean your teeth and trays before placing them back on again.

Pros: Confining your eating to 3 square meals a day will certainly help with the habit of snacking and the consequence of cavities that result from frequent eating. If the idea of losing weight and eating more healthy appeals to you, this will be a good opportunity to arrange how you will implement your plan during the Invisalign process.

Cons: There will be little or no time for snacking when wearing clear braces. The time you take to snack will take away from the mandatory wearing time and you must make time to clean your teeth and the braces properly after eating. This will be a huge adjustment for many people which can result in some weight loss. You may need to adjust your caloric intake accordingly when you are eating a full meal and preplanning is beneficial. People who have medical issues where meals are a significant factor, like diabetes, should discuss the use of Invisalign with their physician before committing to the process. You should also be aware that during tooth movement your bite will likely not line up properly which can make your chewing feel “off.” You may have to get in the habit of chewing slowly and carefully.

Note: Drinking – Some people may tell you that it’s okay to drink any liquids during wearing time without having to remove your braces, but only regular water is safe. Other beverages usually contain the sugars and acids that can break down enamel and over the time of treatment can result in tooth decay. The clear braces also stain and pick up odours easily.

 

Habits

Chewing – Some people have the urge to chew on these clear braces simply because there is something new and constant over the teeth. Chewing can roughen up the surface material, but the trays are replaced every couple of weeks so it usually doesn’t damage or affect effectiveness of the trays. In time, you may become used to wearing them and this adaption may help reduce this chewing habit.

clenchClenching and Grinding  Again, if you suffer from clenching and grinding, it will likely not damage the trays before they have to be replaced again, in fact, some orthodontists say that the constant pressing down on the trays can actually help the teeth move more efficiently. However, some people exert such heavy forces during this habit that it may affect the trays somewhat. While others with existing TMJ issues say that wearing the trays tend to aggravate the condition. Speak to your provider about this before deciding on this type of orthodontia. If you typically wear a night guard for your grinding habit, you will not be able to during your Invisalign treatment.

Note: If your trays begin feeling loose towards the end of each two week period, it is usually not an issue and is actually a sign that your teeth have moved into their new positions. Habits like chewing, grinding and clenching may make them feel looser, but usually not to the extreme that it could affect the effectiveness of the trays.

 

Oral habits – Feeling and probing the retainers with your tongue or heavy muscular action using the insides of your mouth can cause tissue irritation. Resist the habits of developing any oral fixations and before long you will not even notice the trays in your mouth.

Drooling – Some patients report excessive saliva when wearing the trays. This can be difficult especially since the urge to suction the saliva using the mouth muscles then swallowing or spitting out can become annoying. If you find yourself drooling at night, just place a towel over your pillow. It is normal for your mouth to treat the trays as something foreign and produce excess saliva to dispel the object. Overtime this should become less of an issue

Lisping – Speaking can be difficult when you are first becoming accustomed to the new trays. This will subside within time if you try hard to be deliberate and slower with your speech and become conscientious every time you notice yourself slipping into this lisping habit.

 

Movement

r23-jessicaPros – Teeth tend to move more quickly with Invisalign than with traditional braces. This shortens the overall treatment time so that you can enjoy the benefits of straight and aligned teeth sooner.

Cons – There is a balance that must be considered when moving teeth so that the roots of the teeth do not shrink away. The roots of the teeth are important as they anchor and hold your teeth in your jawbone. If they wear away, your teeth will become loose and mobile. Your dentist may suggest that you have x-rays taken periodically so that the health of your roots can be monitored.

 

Other Considerations

headache-14344661Tension – Some people develop sore jaws and tension headaches since the jaws do not match up during tooth movement and their teeth are not settled into the bite they have become accustomed to over the years. You can massage and/or place ice packs wrapped in a towel over the affected areas in a 20 minute on/off cycle to help reduce aches and inflammation. Switching to your new trays before you go to bed along with an ibuprofen is also a good idea. Speak to your dentist if the aches persists so that a pain relief can be suggested and treatment can be re-evaluated.

Locked jaws – Again, because the bite is ever changing, your jaw muscles and joints can become affected – even locking sometimes. Invisalign treatment can also aggravate a pre-existing TMJ issue. Massages and ibuprofens can reduce the tensions and inflammation that can cause this to occur, but you need to bring this situation to the attention of your dentist for evaluation.

Dry Mouth/Chapped lips – While some people develop excessive drool, others find their mouths have become dry and irritated. This can cause mouth sores, chapped lips and increase the likelihood of tooth decay. Using a lip moisturizer, drinking a lot of water and/or chewing sugar-free gum may help.

Mouth sores – The mouth can become irritated and develop sores if your oral hygiene is poor, your mouth is dry, your trays are dirty or from tissue action against the trays. Sometimes the trays need to be trimmed if there is some excess material that is irritating your mouth tissues. You can file these area down at home if you are careful and don’t overdo it. Bring it to the attention of your dentist so the source of your irritation can be addressed or oral hygiene instructions can be reviewed.

Lastly…

The great thing about Invisalign is that you can get great looking teeth without anyone knowing that you’re wearing braces, but you must do your homework and be truthful with yourself about your ability to commit to the treatment recommendations. Nothing worth having comes easy! Weighing the above pros and cons will help you decide if you are a good candidate for these types of braces.

It is also important to choose your healthcare provider carefully. The movement of teeth is very complex in terms of the physical, biochemical, and cellular processes that take place. Treatment requires the care of a competent dentist who has the education and experience to move things along with careful planning and consideration of all the likely variables.

 A lot can go wrong in a short time if you are tempted by a quick fix with a cheap price tag!
Educate Yourself!

.

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com


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What is a Periodontal Screening?

Does your smile pass the Test?

No doubt, you have heard how important it is to take care of your gums for the health of your teeth, but it can also affect your overall health. Gums, also known as gingiva, is a barrier tissue that covers and protects your teeth and the bone that surround and support your teeth.

When gums become tender, swollen and begin to bleed, it is usually a sign that the body’s immune system has been triggered.

Our mouth is home to a complex ecosystem of microorganisms. While much of the bacteria is our mouth are beneficial in preventing disease, there are some that are harmful if allowed to take over. The proper balance of these germs is critical for a healthy mouth. Certain processes take place everyday to keep this balance from being disrupted so that a response from our immune system is not triggered.

Some patients become aware that something is going on when they begin to notice bleeding when they brush their teeth. Others have had progressive gum disease for a long time and are surprised to learn of it.

Periodontal Screening

Watchful Eyes

Your dentist and dental hygienist are trained to not only help you maintain healthy mouth and teeth, but they are always monitoring your mouth for signs of the onset of gum disease. By routine – usually once a year – they will perform a gum evaluation called a periodontal screening.

During this screening, they are assessing the health of your supporting gum and bone structures and evaluating the look of your gums.

Healthy gums are pink and firm. Unhealthy gums are red, swollen, spongy-looking and may bleed. They also look for signs of gum loss (recession) and use a tiny instrument called a probe to measure the depths of the pockets between the teeth and gums. The pocket is a free space located around each tooth. In between each tooth it is where your floss enters for cleaning.

In a healthy mouth, this free space becomes attached gum about 2-3 mm of the way down. When bacteria is allowed to accumulate in this space inflammation occurs that triggers the immune system to send white blood cells. Unfortunately, the WBC not only destroys bacteria but gum tissue also. When the attachment portion of the gum tissue gets destroyed, the pocket become deeper and more bacteria, dental plaque and food can accumulate.

If left untreated or unnoticed, this pocketing will lead to bone loss. Eventually, enough bone is lost that the tooth becomes loose and cannot be saved.

Early detection is key

This is why it is important to identify this pocketing early in order to prevent further gum and bone loss. There are various treatment options available for gum disease and your dentist may refer you to see a gum specialist (Periodontist) for ongoing care.

Unfortunately, gum disease is called a “silent disease” that often goes unnoticed until a significant amount of damage occurs. This is usually the case for people who do not see a dentist routinely where the health of their teeth and gums can be monitored on a regular basis.

Periodontal disease has long been the leading cause of tooth loss in adults which is why every patient should have a periodontal screening performed annually. Early detection is key and can make all the difference.

The good news is that gum disease is an easily preventable disease. By simply brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and attending to regular dental check-ups and cleanings you are already helping your mouth and teeth.

To keep them in tip-top shape you need to start looking at your other habits:

  1. Meal frequency – Reduce snacking in between meals to allow your saliva to repair damage done by acid attacks. Read here
  1. Do not sip on sugary drinks or coffee/tea with milk, cream and/or sugar frequently or all day long.
  1. Use an antiseptic mouth rinse once a day
  1. Ensure that other medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease is monitored by your physician regularly and is under control.
  1. Consider a smoking cessation program as smokers are almost three times as likely as nonsmokers to have periodontitis
  1. Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that  helps to control inflammation.

Suggestions:

  • green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • nuts and legumes
  • olive oil
  1. If you suspect gum disease, never ignore the signs and see a dentist.

Signs:

  • red, swollen gums
  • tender and/or bleeding gums
  • loose gums that have pulled away from your tooth
  • sensitive teeth
  • pain when eating
  • receding gums; tooth appears longer
  • spaces between tooth and increased food impaction
  • loose fitting partial dentures
  • persistent bad breath

 

Keeping your gums healthy and strong is the simplest way to maintain your overall health and help to ensure you keep your teeth for life. If it has been a while since you have been to the dentist for a check-up or suspect you may be having problems with your gums please contact our office today at 905 – 5SMILES (905.576.4537). You’ll be glad you did!

Your in better dental health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com