Is thumb-sucking bad?

September 29th, 2021

Is Thumb Sucking Bad?

Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects on which to suck. It may make them feel secure and happy or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb-sucking is relaxing, it may induce sleep.

Thumb-sucking that persists for long periods of time can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.

Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop.  Children should ideally cease thumb-sucking by about age three to prevent flaring of their permanent teeth.

Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb-sucking. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. However, use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, consult with your pediatric dentist.

A few suggestions to help your child get through thumb sucking:

  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure. Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety, instead of the thumb-sucking.
  • Reward children when they refrain from sucking during difficult periods, such as when being separated from their parents.
  • Your pediatric dentist can encourage children to stop sucking and explain what could happen if they continue.
  • Consider using a sticker chart, or one of our coloring sheets to help encourage cessation of the habit.
  • If these approaches don’t work, remind the children of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Sometimes, your pediatric dentist may recommend the use of a mouth appliance.

Visit our blog for more tips on how to help your child beat thumb-sucking and pacifiers.

Cleaning Baby's Teeth & Gums

August 23rd, 2021

Cleaning baby's teeth and gums

Did you know that good oral hygiene begins early? Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, the gums can benefit from your careful attention.

Caring for Gums

After breast- or bottle-feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby’s gum tissue. This practice both clears your little one’s mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process for building good daily oral care habits. As your baby continues to grow, consider carefully what you put in your child's bottle or sippy cup especially at bed time.

Baby’s First Tooth

When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, and a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case, the bristles are soft and few. Regularly cleaning baby's teeth helps establish this habit from an early age.

Under age three, we recommend using a grain of rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.  During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.

Proper oral hygiene begins early and works great when parents make cleaning baby’s teeth a daily part of their routine from early on. These tips should help your child  should build the habits that make a grand slam smile!

What are tongue and lip ties?

August 23rd, 2021

Nursing and Tongue Ties

Everyone has a band of tissue, called a frenum, which attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth.  Another frenum attaches the top lip to the gums.  A tongue-tie is a condition that restricts the normal mobility and function of the tongue. Similarly, a lip tie, is caused by a frenum which restricts the lip movement.

What is a frenectomy?

Your pediatrician may recommend a frenectomy, or surgery to release a tongue and/or lip tie, if your baby is symptomatic.  One example may be if your baby is struggling to nurse and not gaining weight, after consultation with a lactation consultant.  There are several reasons for why a frenectomy may be recommended, and it is done on a case by case basis, taking into account the age of your child, the degree of the tie, the severity of your child's symptoms, and the desires of mom and baby.  A gap between the two front teeth is developmentally appropriate and is not a reason to complete a frenectomy.

Symptoms of Tongue & Lip Ties

The La Leche League cites the following as possible symptoms of a tongue or lip tie:

A baby may:

  • Be unable to latch on to the breast at all.
  • Be unable to latch on deeply, causing nipple pain and damage.
  • Have difficulties staying on the breast, making a clicking sound as he loses suction.
  • Splutter and choke when coping with fast flowing milk.
  • Breastfeed constantly to get enough milk.
  • Have poor weight gain or need supplementation to maintain adequate weight gain.
  • Develop jaundice that needs treating.
  • Be fussy at the breast when the milk flow slows.
  • Develop colic.

A mother may experience:

  • Pain during feeds, with damaged nipples. Her nipple may be compressed or distorted into a wedge shape like that of a new lipstick immediately after feeding, often with a stripe at its tip.
  • Engorgement, blocked ducts and mastitis because of ineffective milk removal.
  • Low milk production because of ineffective milk removal.
  • Oversupply if her baby compensates for not being able to breastfeed well by nursing very frequently.
  • Tiredness, frustration and discouragement.
  • A premature end to breastfeeding.

If you have questions about tongue & lip ties, please contact our office so we can address your particular concerns. Visit these pages for additional information about cleaning your baby’s teeth & gums, preventative care for your child, or schedule an appointment.

Picking The Perfect Dental Home for Your Child

August 6th, 2021

You Child's Dental Home

Picking The Perfect Dental Home for Your Child

We know that selecting the right primary doctor or dentist for your child can be a difficult and complicated process. So, how do you know who to choose, or how to go about selecting the right dentist for your children? Keep reading below for a few reasons why the best choice is finding a pediatric dentist to be your kids’ dental home.

Pediatric Dentists Make Office Visits Fun

Besides quality dental care, a pediatric dental office seeks to create a fun, inviting environment designed especially for children. At Union Pediatric Dentistry, we want every child who enters our office to leave with as positive of an experience as possible. Our fun, baseball themed office is designed with children in mind.  It's a great idea to look through the photos of our office before your first visit to help familiarize your child with the new environment. You can also check out our Instagram and Facebook to see how fun we are and for news about our office. It’s also a good place to read some of our patient reviews.

Trained to Care for Children

After dental school, pediatric dentist have an addition 2-3 years of special training to care for young children and adolescents. Our board certified pediatric dentists, Dr. GreenhillDr. Jennison, and Dr. Britt, have also completed additional certifications to ensure that you can rest easy knowing that we have had extensive training which has equipped us to care for your child.

Sensitive to Special Healthcare Needs

Our office offers a variety of dental treatments, while taking into account each child's specific needs. We have created a special sensory room, for those with special needs. Our office is trained to treat kids with specific healthcare needs. Call our office to speak with us about your different care needs.

Stress-Free First Visit

Kids are often very nervous about any new experience, but especially a visit to see the dentist or a doctor for the first time. Pediatric dentists are equipped to deal with this. Your first visit to our office is designed to be a relaxed introduction to our office and all-star team of dentists. Be sure to explain to your child what to expect using positive terms. Also, let them know that you are going to meet some new people who want to help them grow up with a healthy smile!

From Toddler to Teen

Union Pediatric Dentistry provides dental care for children of all ages. From the first tooth to adolescence, we help your child develop healthy habits for a healthy smile. We provide education for you and your kids to create healthy brushing habits, understand the importance of flossing, and provide dietary tips to keep their mouth clean for years to come. We want every child to have a GRAND SLAM SMILE!

Give Us a Call

We would love the opportunity to become your child's dental home. Establishing a relationship with an office where your child feels comfortable from an early age is very important for long term dental health. Therefore, we recommend, in accordance with the recommendation of the American Pediatric Dental Association, that you begin to take your child to a pediatric dentist within six months of the first tooth emerging. If your child is already past age one and has not yet seen a dentist, that is okay, it's not too late to begin. Call our office to schedule an appointment.

First Trip to the Dentist: How to Make Sure it is Smooth Sailing

October 21st, 2019

Baby's First Dental ExamTrips to the dentist are an essential part of oral care, but for a child, the first time can be scary. Sitting in a chair, under a light, while a stranger pokes inside their mouth is understandably daunting.

We are often afraid of things we don’t understand, so the best way to make your child’s first trip to the dentist smooth sailing is to help them understand what to expect before they get to the office. Knowledge will make the visit more comfortable and relaxing.

Normalize visits to the dentist with books, or simply talking about it! There are many children’s books out there that help make a visit to the dentist easier! A list of books can be found here. Dr. Jennison even wrote a children's book, A Sugarbug's Delight.

We also recommend roleplaying with a pretend visit!  Making the dentist fun at home will make the outing more fun when the time comes. Be sure to use positive vocabulary, avoiding words like shot and hurt. Instead, talk about a clean, strong smile. In keeping with the positive theme, be sure not to bribe your kids with a post-appointment treat. Bribery gives the idea that there is something to be nervous about. Instead, opt for surprising them with some sort of reward after the fact.

Here at our practice, because we specialize in pediatric dentistry, we too have tactics to make the appointment go easy and smooth for both you and your child! Some children are ready to sit in the dental chair at the first appointment. Others do better in a knee to knee position, where they lay on a board between a parent and the doctor. Tell your child that the team will count and shine their teeth. Thank you for trusting us to take care of your child in a specialized way.

So when should you schedule this trip? As a rule of thumb, kids should start going to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after their first tooth erupts. We’ll see you then!


Four Tips for Keeping Your Kids Cavity Free

April 14th, 2016

Cavity Free Kids

Did you know that the most common chronic disease of children and teens is tooth decay?  Even worse, the CDC reports that nearly 20% of children’s cavities are left untreated.  What may be even more surprising is that nearly all cavities are 100% preventable.  In fact, simply by following these 6 steps, you could help your child enter adulthood without suffering from even a single cavity.

Take advantage of sealants or composite fillings.

Sealants are the most effective, yet most underutilized method of preventing cavities.  Dental sealants involve a temporary, thin plastic coating that is “painted” on the chewing surfaces of teeth which creates a barrier where food often gets trapped.  Composite fillings are sometimes used as an alternative to sealants, but in the same way by filling deep crevices.  The relatively low cost of sealants makes them an obvious choice when compared with the discomfort and higher costs of treating a cavity.

Limit foods that tend to stick to teeth.

Sticky candies like caramel and taffy often stay around for a long time after kids eat them.  But candy isn’t the only food which needs to be limited.  Crackers, potato chips and other starchy foods also tend to get stuck in the nooks and crannies of tooth surfaces.  Without proper brushing, these foods provide sugar to bacteria that feed on it and multiply and attack enamel.  For this reason, these foods should be limited and occasional.  Regular brushing and flossing is essential when these foods are consumed.

Begin good dental habits early.

Oral care can begin even before teeth appear.  Using a soft cloth to clean your baby’s gums can limit bacteria and protect emerging teeth.  Small children should get help with brushing.

Model good dental habits.

One of the most effective ways you can ensure that your children stay cavity free is by modeling good dental habits in front of them.  Do they see you brush?  Are you flossing daily?  Modeling good behaviors will teach your children first hand that you value your own oral health and theirs.

Why Choose a Dentist that Focuses on Pediatric Patients?

January 21st, 2016


Most parents understand the benefits of their child seeing a pediatrician instead of simply a general practice doctor. However, it’s often not clear why a pediatric dentist is just as important and preferable over a general family dentist.  Choosing a pediatric dentist will make sure that oral development is going as it should. Additionally, your pediatric dentist will help your, and your child, establish dental habits that will lead to a lifetime of good oral health.

Why Union Pediatric Dentistry?

Because pediatric dentists specialize in treating the dental needs of children, we have to complete an additional two years of specialized education to earn our designation. Beyond additional schooling, our pediatric dentists are board certified by the APBD. This certification shows our commitment to the highest level of care for our patients.

Everything from our baseball-inspired, kid-friendly office to our communication style, are designed to provide the best care for your child.

Our goal is to help every child feel comfortable and excited about visiting our office and to teach them how to care for their teeth. If needed, we would be happy to set up a “friendly visit” to let your child get familiar with our office and relieve any fears they may have.  Pleasant visits to our dental office help to establish trust and build confidence for future appointments.

Our pediatric dentists also have special training in helping children with special needs. We encourage you to reach out to us about your child's unique situation. Besides a designated sensory room, we want to partner with you to accommodate your child's special needs.

When to see a pediatric dentist

At what age should my child see a pediatric dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, along with Dr. GreenhillDr. Jennison, and Dr. Britt, recommend taking your child to a pediatric dentist about six months after the first tooth comes in. For most children, this is around their first birthday.

What about teens?

Just because your child is a teenager, doesn't mean your child's teeth don't require special attention too. Some orthodontic needs are best addressed in adolescence. Additionally, decaying or poorly situated teeth can make teens self-conscious. Teens have more control over their own diet. Couple that with busy schedules and we often see a tendency to eat more unhealthy snack foods. This often becomes a significant part of their diet, resulting in poor oral health. Through a positive approach we teach preventive dental health care throughout the teenage years.

We want our dental practice to be a comfortable and inviting place.  Call our office today and let us show you how we accomplish this goal!