Airport Road Dental Associates - 3465 Airport Road, Portage, Indiana 46368 - (219) 763-2727

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Posts for: November, 2021

Proper dental care should begin as soon as the first teeth erupt. If a child's teeth don't receive proper care, the resulting oral health issues could continue to affect the youngster into adulthood.

Still, children often develop habits that are detrimental to their dental health. Discover two childhood habits that could be problematic for your child's teeth.

1. Thumb-Sucking

Thumb-sucking may appear harmless. However, the habit can impair the alignment of the teeth.

As a child sucks their thumb, the appendage presses against the roof of the mouth and places pressure on the upper and lower central incisors. The pressure can narrow the upper palate, resulting in a crossbite, where the side teeth of the upper jaw do not properly meet those of the lower jaw when the child's mouth is closed.

In addition, the pressure on the front teeth may cause an overbite. The upper front teeth may overlap those of the lower palate when the mouth is closed.

For some children, thumb-sucking begins while they are still in the womb and continues as a soothing mechanism after their birth. Many children outgrow the habit. However, others may need assistance to find alternative soothing methods.

If your child sucks their thumb, discover a few measures that you can take to help them overcome the habit:

  • Coating the thumb with a distasteful substance. Children often avoid placing unpalatable substances in their mouths. Consequently, parents can coat their child's thumb with a bit of vinegar or other edible but distasteful substances.
  • Covering the thumb with fabric. Parents can also consider covering the child's thumb with a physical barrier, such as a glove. The child is less likely to enjoy the texture or taste of fabric in their mouth.
  • Offering a distracting or soothing toy. The child's thumb is less likely to be in their mouth if it is occupied playing with a toy. A toy may also help soothe a child who is feeling a bit anxious.

The earlier that a child stops the habit of thumb-sucking, the less damage the habit will likely cause. Children who stop sucking their thumbs before toddlerhood often suffer no damaging effects.

2. Bottle Drinking

Babies frequently consume milk and juice through bottles. However, parents should attempt to wean their children as soon as possible because of the potential for baby bottle decay.

Baby bottle decay occurs as the contents of a bottle rest on the teeth of a child. Unlike cup drinking, bottle drinking promotes the liquid resting in the mouth for longer periods.

Milk, juice, and other popular bottle contents include sugars. As a result, the bacteria in a child's mouth feed on the simple carbohydrates and release acidic waste that causes tooth decay.

Baby bottle decay can be so severe that it causes the child's teeth to blacken. Nevertheless, the transition to cup drinking can lessen the likelihood of the condition. Discover a few measures that parents can take to help wean their youngsters from the bottle:

  • Only place water in the bottle. Unlike milk and juice, water contains no simple sugars, and it can promote better oral health. Thus, parents should restrict bottle usage to water only.
  • Avoid giving the child a bottle as a soothing mechanism. Some parents offer their children bottles to help soothe them, especially during periods of rest. Instead, parents may offer a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to decrease the child's dependency on the bottle.
  • Offer favorite beverages in a cup. If a child's favorite beverages are offered in a cup, they are more likely to embrace the cup's usage.

Once a child is weaned from the bottle, they are unlikely to desire to return to it. Most children can drink from a cup when they reach eight to ten months of age.

If your child suffers from a habit that is detrimental to their oral health, contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, to schedule a consultation.


Have you ever wondered how chewing gum affects your oral health? Take a look at some benefits and a few things to remember.

The Benefits

Chewing gum benefits your oral health in multiple ways. Below are some of the benefits.

It Stimulates Saliva Production

The mechanical action of chewing gum stimulates saliva production in your mouth. Increased saliva production has multiple oral health benefits. For example, the saliva:

  • Helps to clean food remnants that would otherwise feed dangerous bacteria on your teeth
  • Cleans acid from your teeth that would otherwise erode your enamel
  • Reduces acid in your esophagus that might otherwise reach your mouth (think gastroesophageal reflux disease) and harm your teeth
  • Contain minerals that strengthen your enamel and enhance its defense against acid or bacterial attack
  • Limits the negative effects of dry mouth, such as bad breath

The more you chew gum, the more saliva you may have in your mouth.

Xylitol

Some gums contain xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener that is also good for your teeth. Xylitol helps to reduce the volume of bacteria that stick to your teeth. The sweetener also neutralizes acids in your mouth and reduces their damaging effect on your teeth.

Recaldent

Lastly, some gums also have Recaldent, which contains calcium and phosphorus. The minerals remineralize the teeth and minimize the effects of acids on your teeth.

Tips for Maximum Benefits

Not everyone who chews gums reaps the benefits of the practice. Below are some tips to help you protect your teeth as you chew gum.

Chew Sugarless Gum

Some gums contain sugar, and these types don't protect your oral health. In fact, sugary gum can even harm your oral health. The gum feeds bacteria in your mouth, and the bacteria turns the sugar into acids that erode your enamel and make them susceptible to further damage. Too much sugar intake is also bad for your overall health.

Stick to sugarless gum if you want to maximize the health benefits. You can also chew gum fortified with artificial sweaters.

Mind the Acid Levels

Some chewing gum also contains acid, which may be bad for your teeth in large quantities. Remember you want to chew gum to reduce acid in your mouth, not to increase it. According to ada.org, the gum pH should not be lower than 5.5 if it is not to erode your teeth.

Chew After Eating

Bacteria start to act on bits of food in your mouth as soon as you eat. Therefore, you should chew gum after your meal. That way, you can limit the bacteria's actions and help demineralize the teeth.

Chew for at Least 20 Minutes

The more you chew gum, the more it will clean and protect your teeth. Chew gum for at least 20 minutes to reap the maximum benefits.

Look for the ADA Seal

Many people struggle to choose the right chewing gum. Look for ADA (American Dental Association) seals that certify that chewing gum is good for your oral health.

Caveat

Lastly, take care and only chew gum if it is safe for you to do so. For example, you should not chew gum with dental appliances such as braces or dentures since it might stick on them. You should also not chew gum with Recaldent if you are allergic to milk.

In addition, note that chewing gum is not a substitute for flossing and brushing. These two oral hygiene habits are always necessary if you want to protect your teeth.

Airport Road Dental Associates has several decades of combined experience in dental care. We provide both preventive and curative dental services. Contact us for a dental appointment whether you want a routine examination or have a dental problem.