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Prevent Bad Oral Habits

Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers

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 beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth 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. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop. 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, ask us.

Tongue Piercing

There are many risks involved with oral piercings, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscesses, nerve disorders, receding gums, or scar tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria and infection is a common complication of piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway. Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva, and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle. So follow the advice of the American Dental Association and give your child’s mouth a break—skip the mouth jewelry.

Tobacco

Tobacco in any form can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage. Teach your child about the dangers of tobacco. Smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew, or snuff, is often used by teens who believe that it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is an unfortunate misconception. Studies show that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes and may be more difficult to quit. Teens who use it may be interested to know that one can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias. Help your child avoid tobacco in any form. By doing so, he or she will avoid bringing cancer-causing chemicals in direct contact with the tongue, gums, and cheek.