Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | How Candy Threatens Your Child’s Smile

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How often does your child eat candy? According to a study conducted by the USDA Economic Research Service, children under 12 consume an average of 49 pounds of sugar in one year. While candy is not the sole source of sugar in a child’s diet, the impacts of sugary candy treats are particularly harmful to teeth. Here’s what you need to know about candy and how it might be damaging your child’s smile.

The Impact of Sugar on Teeth

The real culprit in candy is the high sugar content. Certain types of bacteria that are present in your mouth can feed on sugar. These destructive bacteria then create acid that wears away tooth enamel. When enamel is weakened, your risk of developing decay increases. Your mouth is effective at neutralizing acids and aiding minerals that strengthen enamel if the amount of sugars and acids is not excessive. Your mouth can only do so much, which makes it essential to limit your sugar intake and maintain a regular and thorough oral hygiene routine.

Watch Out for Sticky, Sugary Candies

Not all candies are made equal. For a general rule of thumb, the sticker the candy, the worse it is for your teeth. Sticky candies leave sugary residue on your teeth long after you are done eating. This gives the bacteria in your mouth more time to start demineralizing enamel. Watch out for sticky candies like gum drops and taffy.

Suckers, lollipops, and hard sucking candies are troublesome because they are in your mouth for an extended period of time. Like sticky candies, this allows for more time for harmful bacteria to get to work by weakening your teeth. You can also chip or crack a tooth if you bite too hard.

Other problematic candies include those that are gummy and coated in sugar. Think of gummy worms or another sour covered, chewy critter. Not only are they high in sugar content, but they also typically contain harmful acids that contribute to a loss of enamel.

Steps for Preventing Decay

You can help your child by limiting their candy and sugar intake. In some instances, this can be tricky and even out of your control when your child is at school or a friend’s house. What you can do is instill good oral hygiene habits in your child. Make sure they are brushing for two minutes twice each day. You can make brushing fun. Sing a song together for the two minutes, and allow them to choose a fun toothbrush and toothpaste flavor.

Candy is a fun treat. You don’t have to take it away from your child altogether, but limit their exposure to such treats and educate them about the impacts candy can have on their teeth. When left untreated, decay can spread leading to pain and infection. Maintaining a schedule of regular visits to our office is essential. More than just a cleaning, we will provide a thorough examination to check for decay.

If you haven’t already scheduled your child’s next appointment, please contact our office.

1111 Cumberland Crossing Dr.
Valparaiso, IN 46383

(219) 286-6148

Pediatric Dentist 46383 | How to Make your Child Comfortable While Visiting the Dentist

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Our patients love visiting our office. We make it a priority to make sure every child feels safe and comfortable when visiting us. We focus on keeping your children educated and happy with their oral health. Below are a few tips on how to make your child comfortable while visiting the dentist.

Be open about it at home

Sometimes children are uncomfortable with the dentist simply because it is unfamiliar territory. We encourage you to openly talk with your children about the dentist and the benefits of visiting us. We have also seen that educating your children on their teeth can spark their curiosity. You can even “play dentist” with your children at home where you take turns examining each other’s mouths.

Visit the dentist regularly

With unfamiliarity of something there almost always comes fear. You can ease these fears with regular visits to the dentist, so it becomes part of your children’s routines. We recommend regular visits to our office every six months to one year for you and your children. This will not only ensure your child will become more familiar and comfortable with the dentist, but also that they are receiving the best oral care possible.

Make oral health fun

Brushing together as a family can encourage your children to take care of their teeth and make it a regular part of their daily routines. This will encourage them to want to visit the dentist to show off the hard work they put in to their oral health. You can also implement other fun activities such as brushing to music, letting them pick out a toothbrush, or using fun flavors of toothpaste.

We hope these ideas will help your children become more familiar with the dentist. We are excited to meet you and your children and know that any visit you make to our office will be fun, safe, and comfortable for everyone involved. If you have any more questions, please contact our office or schedule a visit today.

1111 Cumberland Crossing Dr.
Valparaiso, IN 46383

(219) 286-6148

Pediatric Dentist | Pacifiers and Teeth Development

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One of the best ways to calm fussy babies is by giving them a pacifier. However, as babies grow this can be a difficult habit to break. The use of pacifiers can cause improper mouth development which leads to abnormal tooth growth and additional complications later in life. Here’s what you need to know about the impact pacifiers have on your baby’s smile.

Negative Effects of Pacifiers

Physical development is crucial for children’s overall health in the first few years of their life. What you do now can affect them for their entire life. Pacifiers can influence the shape and alignment of your child’s teeth and jaw. It can move the front teeth forward and you may notice your child developing crooked teeth or bite problems. The front teeth may also not meet when their mouth is closed and there can be changes in the shape of the roof of their mouth.

Positive Effects of Pacifiers

While they may contribute to oral health complications, pacifiers do offer several benefits for parents and children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) babies up to one year of age who are offered a pacifier at night have a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

What You Should Do

Since pacifiers can be beneficial for other health reasons, you should speak with us about how to wean your baby off of pacifiers. We also recommend that you visit our office for an examination as soon as your child’s first tooth develops.

Breaking the habit of pacifier use can be difficult, but there are various ways you can wean your child off a pacifier. By following our tips and recommendations, your child can experience the calming effect of pacifiers without developing pacifier teeth.

Call and schedule your child’s next appointment with our team today.  

Growing Smiles Pediatric Dentistry of Valparaiso
1111 Cumberland Crossing Drive, Valparaiso, IN 46383
(219) 286-6148

Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | Gear Up – Protect Your Child’s Teeth

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Pediatric Dentist in ValparaisoLosing a tooth can make simple tasks difficult. A missing tooth can impact the way you smile, eat, and talk. If your child plays sports, they are at a higher risk for losing a tooth. It is important for them to visit us to discuss potential protective solutions. Mouth guards are a useful tool for keeping your child’s teeth healthy. Here’s what you need to know.

What do Mouthguards Do?

Mouthguards help protect the teeth. They are a line of defense in situations where an injury may occur. In addition to protecting teeth, they help cushion the tongue, jaw, and lips from injury. Usually, a mouthguard protects the top row of teeth because they protrude out further than the bottom set.

Who Should Wear a Mouthguard?

If your child plays sports, particularly high-contact sports, they should wear a mouthguard. Hockey, football, wrestling, and boxing can all present situations where teeth may become injured. Think of a mouthguard as a necessary component to your child’s set of equipment. It may also be helpful for non-contact sports players to wear a mouthguard. Even baseball players and gymnasts can benefit from using one to protect against an oral injury.

Custom vs. Store-Bought

Ideally, your child should wear a custom-fitted mouthguard. There are options available at stores, but these often do not fit well. Having a mouthguard that fits comfortably and does not impeded talking or breathing is important. At your child’s next visit, ask us about fitting your child for a mouthguard. If your child wears braces, we can help you find a solution that keeps their teeth safe during orthodontic treatment.

Your child’s teeth deserve to be protected. Imagine how difficult it would be to talk, eat, drink, or smile with a missing tooth. Young athletes put their mouths at risk each time they practice or compete. Make sure they have the right gear to stay safe.

For questions about your child’s dental care or to schedule your next visit, please contact our office.

Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | Keep Kids’ Teeth Safe and Healthy This Winter

Pediatric Dentist in Valparaiso, IN

Valparaiso Pediatric DentistAs a parent, you want to keep your child’s teeth safe and healthy all year long. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are great ways to prevent tooth decay. What you may not realize is that the colder weather of the holiday season brings its own challenges to bear. Here are some ways to help protect your child’s oral health this winter.

Encourage Water

While you may think of summer as having dangers of dehydration, winter play holds similar risks for children. The air is drier during this season than in the spring or fall. Activities such as sledding and snowball fighting can lead to sweating out fluids. Have your child sip water throughout the day. This can keep them hydrated and prevent dry mouth, which can raise risk of tooth decay.

Mouth Guard

Whether your child enjoys skiing, sledding, skating, or snowball fights, winter brings increased risks of falls and injuries to both mouth and face. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), up to 40% of kids’ dental injuries occur during sports. Having your child wear a mouth guard during these activities can greatly reduce their risk of damaging teeth or gums.

Strong Hygiene

Regular brushing and flossing are crucial to keeping teeth healthy. If your child becomes ill with a cold or flu virus, continuing dental hygiene can help their immune system concentrate on getting well. If your child vomits, have them rinse their mouth with water right away to avoid leaving acids on their teeth. Discard and replace your child’s toothbrush once they are well to prevent re-infection.

Limit Sugar

Cold weather can lead to sniffles and coughs. Avoid bathing your child’s teeth in sugar from cough drops. Choose sugar-free options to soothe sore throats. Limit juice and cocoa that have high sugar content. Monitor your child’s candy intake through the holidays and ensure they brush after indulging.

Don’t Share

While sharing toys and books is a habit to encourage, sharing cups or silverware is not. Tooth decay, cold sores, and other oral ailments can be spread through saliva. Make sure each family member is using their own drink, spoon, and fork.

For more ways you can keep your child’s teeth safe through the winter season, contact our office.

Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | Healthy Transitions: Trading Bottles for Cups

Pediatric Dentist in Valparaiso, IN

Pediatric Dentist Valparaiso

Helping your child switch from bottles to cups can be challenging. Babies may become emotionally attached to their bottles as a source of comfort as well as nutrition.

However, bottles can also become dangerous to your child’s teeth over time. Continuing to use a bottle too long can cause your child’s palate to narrow. This can lead to an increased need for orthodontic treatment as they grow.

Bottles also expose a baby’s teeth to liquids over an extended period of time. Liquids such as milk, formula, and juice contain sugars that can increase the risk of tooth decay. To help protect your child’s teeth, you should encourage your child to start drinking from a cup by their first birthday.

It is important to consider your choice of training cup. There are many and varied options of child training cups available. Here are some things to consider when selecting cups for your child.

Keep the goal in mind when choosing a style of training cup for your child.

Cups advertised as “no spill” often contain a special valve beneath the spout. This valve does protect against easy spilling, but also prevents sipping. Instead, these cups require your child to suck on the spout, essentially replacing one type of bottle with another. This can slow your child’s training on cup usage. In some cases, these valves may even require a high level of suction, making them frustrating to use.

Look for a cup with a simple spout rather than a “no spill” spout.

These cups are easy for your child to use and help them learn to sip. Cups with handles can be easier for small hands to learn to hold. If spills are a concern, look for a cup with a weighted base that can help it self-right.

Remember that transitions occur in stages.

Phase out the bottle in favor of the cup, don’t try to change all at once. Once your child can use the cup, limit the bottle to water. This can help make the bottle less desired. Provide the bottle less often over time to allow your child time to adjust. Once your child has mastered training cups, start offering a small plastic cup without a lid. When they can use this new cup, phase out the training cup.

For more information about bottle to cup transitions or to schedule an appointment, contact our office.

Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | Say Cheese!

Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric Dentist Valparaiso INIt has long been known that dairy products contain high amounts of calcium, which is important for developing and maintaining strong teeth and bones. However, not all dairy works in the same ways. Did you know that a recent study has found that cheese can actually help protect teeth against cavities?

How does cheese prevent cavities?

Eating cheese helps stimulate the production of saliva in your child’s mouth, which washes away sugars, acids, and bacteria on their teeth. Additionally, cheese is a great source of both calcium and phosphorous, which can help strengthen tooth enamel. What’s more, the scientists who performed the study found that some of the other compounds found in cheese seem to adhere to tooth enamel, further protecting the teeth from acids in the mouth.

Are all cheeses the same?

No, some cheeses are healthier for your family than others. To get the greatest benefit from your child’s cheese intake, stick with real cheese varieties, rather than processed cheeses. American cheese, cheese dips, and pre-packaged cheese products, such as those found in jars or spray cans, have added sugars to enhance their flavor. These sugars can be harmful to teeth, rather than protecting them. In addition, these types of cheese products contain a significantly reduced amount of actual cheese content. These processed cheeses can even wear down tooth enamel, increasing risk of decay.

What kinds of cheese should I give my child?

There are hundreds of types of real cheese available, which are packed with calcium and great for tooth protection. If your child enjoys aged cheeses, Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey jack are all tasty options. If he or she prefers softer cheeses, Mozzarella, Brie, or Camembert may be a great way to make your child smile. Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and other similar cheeses have much to offer for a child with a more expansive palate.

What if we’re on a low-fat diet?

Good news! The fat content of your cheese choices do not affect its ability to protect your child’s teeth. The low-fat or non-fat versions of your child’s favorite varieties of cheese contain just as much calcium, phosphorous, and other tooth-protecting compounds as the full-fat varieties.

With so many great options to choose from, consider offering your child cheese instead of sugary or starchy options for a snack or end of meal treat. Cheese tastes great and is healthy for your child and their teeth. For more ideas for healthy snacking, contact our pediatric dental office.

Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | Help Your Child Avoid Dental Fear

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Valparaiso IN Pediatric DentistThe American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should see a dentist at least once every six months. Depending on your child’s individual oral health needs, they may need to see the dentist more frequently. Our dentist will advise you on how often your child should be seen.

In our office, we love to help children learn how to keep their teeth healthy and beautiful. Unfortunately, some children can develop fear or anxiety about visiting the dentist, even before they’ve ever been to one. We have found that the very best way to combat dental fear is to stop it before it starts. Here are some of our most effective tips for preventing your child from suffering from dental fear:

Start young. Your child should be having regular dental checkups starting by age one or within 6 months of their first tooth growing in. When checkups start from a young age, it is easy for your child’s dentist and hygienist to build positive memories with your child and ward off anxiety.

Stay simple. We like to tell young children that the dentist will check their smile and count their teeth, and that the hygienist will clean their teeth and teach them how to care for their teeth better. Too much detail about treatments and examination can be overwhelming and cause stress about the unknown.

Keep it positive. When you explain to your child that they are going to the dentist, don’t start detailing the things that could be negative. Instead, just explain that the dentist helps to keep their teeth healthy. If and when we need to treat your child further, our team is trained and experienced in explaining treatment without causing fear.

Set an example. The leading cause of dental fear in children is their parents’ dental fear. Make sure you are following your own recommended schedule for preventive care and treatment. When your child sees you being positive about dental care, they will feel more confident about their own dental appointments.

Parents have the greatest influence in their child’s perception of dental care. Show your child that their oral health is important and that the dentist is there to help keep their teeth healthy and beautiful.

For more tips or to schedule your child’s appointment, contact our office.

Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthier

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Dentist in ValparaisoThe food children eat affects their long term oral health. Some foods have nutrients teeth need. Others are full of acids and sugars that are harmful to teeth. With so many unhealthy food choices being marketed to children every day, it is vital that you take a stand. Offer fun, healthy snacks and model the better food choices you want your kids to make.

Offer healthy snack choices. Kids should have a well-balanced and nutritional diet. This not only promotes overall health but also helps build a strong healthy smile. Nutrition is an important part of oral health. Teaching your kids about eating healthy and limiting sugary foods will help foster a balanced diet from an early age. This will form habits that will result in a lifetime of strong teeth and better health overall.

Have fun with snacks. Promote a nutritious diet by getting creative with snack choices. If you show your kids that healthy snacks are fun, they will be more likely to eat them. Apple slices with peanut butter, fruit smoothies, and yogurt with granola or fruit are great examples of fun, yet healthy combinations. Remember to avoid soda and sugary drinks. These can leave sugars on teeth and can increase the risk of plaque and tooth decay. Water is always the best solution! Eating a well-balanced lunch and dinner is important as well. Make sure to add a variety of fruits and vegetables to every meal so that your kids become accustomed to them.

Be a good role model. Children learn habits by following the example set by their parents. Send your kids the right message by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables yourself. Avoid sugary snacks that can cause cavities or gum disease. Be sure to practice good oral hygiene in front of your kids. If you brush and floss after meals and snacks, your kids will follow the example. Consider brushing together with your child to reinforce good brushing skills and habits. Make sure to brush at least twice a day, after breakfast and before bedtime. If it is possible, try to encourage your child to brush after lunch or after sweet snacks.

Follow up. Don’t forget it is also very important to have regular dental appointments for your child, and model healthy habits by seeing your own dentist regularly. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us for more ideas on how to promote healthy snacking for great long term dental health!

Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | Do You Brush Your Teeth Too Much?

Pediatric Dentist in Valparaiso, IN

Valparaiso pediatric dentsitBrushing your teeth is a vital step in maintaining good oral health. However, is there such a thing as over-brushing?

The American Dental Association recommends you brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day. People sometimes brush after every meal, or brush midday to freshen up. Although this is not always a bad thing, when you start brushing too much or for too long, you can ultimately damage your teeth.

Brushing more than three times a day, and for longer than 2 minutes, can sometimes lead to your tooth enamel wearing down as well as cause damage to your gums. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body and helps fight against tooth decay. Over-brushing can damage this shield and cause teeth to become sensitive and prone to cavities.

Practicing proper oral hygiene care at home is an important part of your overall oral health. However, being aware of how much is too much is equally important in keeping your smile healthy.

Using the right kind of toothbrush helps prevent unnecessary enamel erosion. It is recommended you use a toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The Seal of Acceptance shows that:

  • All of the toothbrush components are safe for use in the mouth.
  • Bristles are free of sharp or jagged edges (a soft-bristled toothbrush helps prevent the wearing down of enamel).
  • The toothbrush can be used to provide a significant decrease in mild gum disease and plaque.

Scheduling regular professional cleanings and exams with our dentist will keep your mouth healthy.

Contact our office today to schedule a cleaning and comprehensive exam with our dentist.