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.

Children and Halitosis

July 2nd, 2019

Many parents are unaware that children can also suffer from symptoms of halitosis, better known as chronic bad breath. This common oral problem affects a majority of the population, including both adults and children. During treatment for this condition, it’s worthwhile to focus on the cause of the problem. Take a look at the most common reasons why your child might develop bad breath.

Having constant bad breath can be embarrassing and troublesome. Most often, boys and girls develop halitosis as a side effect of some sort of upper respiratory infection. It may be a common cold, allergies, or flu symptoms.

When the nasal passages are blocked, it’s more likely that your child will breathe through the mouth. Mouth breathing may also occur if your youngster is put on medication that decreases saliva flow. Mouth breathing can make bad breath much worse if there isn’t enough saliva to cleanse the area.

Another cause of halitosis in children can be tonsillitis. When your child’s airway is constricted, he or she is more likely to mouth-breath. When the tissues in your mouth dry out, bacteria will grow and increase in potency. If you notice symptoms of tonsillitis in your child such as a fever, swollen throat, trouble swallowing, chills, or congestion, get your little one to treatment right away.

Halitosis in children is can also be caused by an infection of the mouth. If your child’s teeth or gums are infected, odor will develop if untreated. Infection can occur due to inadequate brushing and flossing, which can lead to gum disease or cavities. If cavities are left untreated, they can develop a strong, noticeable odor. If you think your child has an infection or cavity, contact us and schedule an appointment.

Other causes of halitosis may be certain pungent foods your child eats, or bacteria built up on the tongue. Make sure your son or daughter brushes and flosses thoroughly every day. Some mouthwashes may be beneficial for your child to alleviate bad breath caused by leftover bacteria in the mouth. Other ways of treating of halitosis can vary, based on the cause of the problem.

If you’re unsure about why your child has halitosis, contact our office and we can help you figure out where the issue originated. Remember, masking symptoms of bad breath with gum or mints will be only a temporary fix. Your child’s bad breath problems can be helped with a little investigation from our team! Always feel free to call our office if you are concerned about your child’s oral health.

Caffeine and Your Kid's Teeth

November 12th, 2015

caffeine and kids oral health



Kids are drinking less soda.  This fantastic news should also mean that they’re consuming less caffeine, but in fact, the amount of caffeine that kids are getting on a daily basis is on the rise.  Recent studies have shown that 73% of American children consume at least some caffeine every day.  This can be attributed to “sports” drinks and energy drinks as well as increased coffee consumption among children and teens.  But is caffeine good for kids and their oral health?  Here are several caffeine facts you may not know.

Caffeine creates an addiction cycle.

There’s no doubt that caffeine is addictive.  In fact, it’s been suggested that caffeine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world and therefore one of the hardest habits to stop.  Because of this, parents attempting to limit the amount of caffeine their child consumes may find this task difficult.  The more caffeine you take in, the more of it you crave.

Caffeine can steal calcium from growing bodies.

Caffeine acts a diuretic, increasing the production of urine in the body.  When more urine is produced, greater calcium loss occurs.  In fact, caffeine itself has been shown to leach calcium from bones and teeth.  6 mg of calcium are lost from the body for every 100 mg of caffeine consumed.

Caffeinated drinks tend to be acidic.

Most drinks that contain caffeine are also highly acidic.  Even though tooth enamel is the strongest material in the human body, it’s still no match for a constant bathing in acids.  Children’s teeth are naturally more sensitive than that of adults because it can take several years for the enamel on newly emerged teeth to harden after baby teeth have been lost.  Children who drink sodas and sports drinks are at a greater risk for cavities and enamel loss than those who do not.

The best way to protect your kids from the effects of caffeine is simply to not have them in the house.  When kids get early exposure to sugary, caffeinated drinks they tend to keep that habit the rest of their lives.  Start today by making choosing water and low-sugar, non-caffeinated beverages for your whole family!



Your Infant's Teeth: When Should Care Begin?

April 23rd, 2015

When to start caring for infant teeth

Establishing a healthy starting point for your child’s oral care start earlier than you may realize.  It’s amazing how quickly time passes and how fast children grow up.  We’ve put together a few guidelines to encourage you to make good dental habits a priority and to begin caring for your child’s teeth as soon as possible.

Start before teeth arrive.

First teeth generally appear around 6 months. (Don’t worry if your child is sooner or later than this.  All children are different.) Gently wiping the inside of your baby’s mouth with a soft cloth after meals or during bath time will help to reduce bacteria and give emerging teeth a great start.  It will also get you in the habit of caring for your child’s teeth until they are ready to take over themselves.

Begin brushing as soon as the first tooth appears.

Once the first tooth emerges, it’s time to begin brushing.  We recommend a tiny smear of toothpaste on a toothbrush that’s specifically designed for infants.  These usually have small brush heads and a special shape or handle that fits easily in your hand.  Stick to brushing twice a day and be sure to brush both the inside and outside of each tooth surface.  Flossing shouldn’t be a concern until tooth surfaces touch.

Establish a dental home early.

We encourage you to make the first visit to our practice more of a “meet and greet”.  We can give you and your child a mini-tour, and introduce you to our team.  It is our belief that a comfortable, caring environment is essential for a lifetime of healthy smiles.  We would love to see your child when their first tooth arrives or by age one.

Keep a routine for the whole family.

Children imitate what they see their parents do.  Chances are, if caring for your own teeth is a priority then you will pass those health habits along to your children.  Try making brushing and flossing something that everyone in your family does as part of your regular routine.

If you haven’t been following these guidelines, it’s not too late to start!  The best time to begin a lifetime of great dental habits is today.  We encourage you to share this blog post with your friends and family who have young children or may be expecting.  And don’t forget to call us if it’s time for a check-up!