February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

They are your most precious gifts and you would do anything for them… unfortunately, they didn’t come with instructions so we don’t know what to do!  I bought a hand mixer this weekend with my daughter so that we could make Fluffy Japanese Pancakes and the mixer came with an instruction book – and I care so much more about the health of my kids than my hand mixer but with the most important project of our lives, we sort of have to make it up!  It turns out that even “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” isn’t even totally accurate because bleeding gums when you are pregnant is very often a very big deal!

Obviously, I can’t tell you how to raise your kids, but there are several things that I do know are absolutely essential!  To start, there is no question that the healthiest milk for a newborn is the mother’s milk.  For sure it is your option, but there is tremendous value in the mother’s milk for immune support and general health of the baby and as the children grow.  As important, is how the tongue adapts to an artificial nipple.  Proper tongue position and function is essential for growth and development of the jaws and allowing room for the teeth.  Other than the NUK nipple, we are unaware of an artificial nipple that allows for proper tongue function and swallowing patterns.

The tongue and lip posture is a massively important issue in developing kids, and combined with a properly functioning airway, may well prevent the need for braces!  The rest and function of the tongue and lips and surrounding muscles actually guides the growth and development of the upper and lower arches and alignment of the teeth.  If the muscles and tongue function and rest properly, the arches develop more fully and teeth have room to come in straight.  If they don’t function or rest correctly, the teeth end up crooked and dental arches end up too small.  The reality is that it is almost never the case that there are too many teeth for the arches but rather, the arches aren’t quite developed enough for the teeth and expanding the arches is a vastly better solution.  Fortunately, progressive orthodontists are guiding growth much earlier today and allowing for healthier kids.  Better still, obviously, would be to guide growth and development in the first place.

One often missed but critical point is that the roof of the mouth is the floor of the nose – and if the roof of the mouth is not shaped properly, the nose won’t be either.  Maybe not their adorable little button nose part, but the more important inside of the nose where the air is supposed to go.  By design, we are supposed to be nasal breathers, and if this is not open, then the kids can’t breathe properly.  If we can’t breathe through our nose, everything about gas exchange and health is risked.  There are several key features that we screen for when evaluating our kids’ ability to breathe.  To start, no children should snore when they sleep.  While grinding is scary sounding, it can be normal, but snoring is an indication that your child isn’t able to breathe like they should.  Chronic throat infections or ear infections or runny noses are also an indication that there may be an issue.

Fortunately, there are ways to reverse the problems and damage.  If caught early, even children who snore can be guided to grow to better and healthier status.  Knowing what signs to look for and using tools like Myofunctional therapy, our hygienists are able to help unravel some of the damage that has been done way back when we were kids as well as to help screen for the consequences we pay today for missing the key indicators when we were kids.  There is nothing more important to life than airway – make sure that yours and your kids are open and functioning like they should be!!

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