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How your child’s thumb sucking habit could end up costly

Children go through phases where they feel safe and comfortable while doing certain habits, such as sucking on their thumb or a pacifier.

During the early years and usually lasting up until about four years old, it’s completely normal for a child to want to suck on or chew stuff.

However, fast forwards to the age of five. At this time, thumb sucking or other habits involving the mouth can alter the growth of the jaws and cause misalignments and bite issues.

The issues caused will require orthodontic help to fix, and it will be costly.

At iSmile Orthodontics, we recommended helping your child overcome their unhealthy dental habits, before it impacts their oral health.

How thumb sucking impacts a child’s dental health

Children who continue to actively sucking on their thumb past four are at higher risk of developing long-lasting misalignments of the teeth and impacts to jaw growth.

Active thumb sucking places repetitive pressure on the teeth, roof of the mouth jaw, which in effect alters how they grow.

Orthodontic issues caused by thumb sucking

  • Overbite – Upper jaw overlaps the lower jaw.
  • Open bite – Front top and bottom teeth do not connect when the mouth is closed.
  • Front lower teeth dip inwards.
  • Speech impediment – Since thumb sucking alters the growth of the teeth and jaw, it changes speech development. It may cause lips, and cause speech issues making it difficult to pronounce certain letters.

If you want to help avoid the risk of these orthodontic or speech issues, it’s important to help your child to stop this unhealthy habit as they begin reaching the age of four.

Ways to stop your child sucking their thumb or objects

Most children will naturally stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two to four years old. 

It’s important to give your child the chance to naturally stop, however if they appear to continue the habit heading towards four or after four, you will need to intervene.

Great options to help your child stop, include:

  • Encouragement – Show encouragement as your child tries to listen to you and stop. Things like hugs can be a great encouragement.
  • Reminders – Place a bandage or glove over your child’s hand or finger to act as a reminder that they have to stop sucking their thumb.
  • Distractions – When your child goes to suck on their thumb, try to entertain them to distract them away from doing it.
  • Rewards Rewarding your child with a special outing or toy are great ways to show progress and stop them from sucking their thumb for a period of time. Try beginning with one day, and making it all the way up to 30 days.

If it appears your child has stopped sucking on their thumb, please do not assume it is gone as children can easily drift back into habits. Make sure you continue your at-home treatments to deter thumb sucking even long after it’s gone.

What if I cannot stop my child, where should I seek help?

If you cannot seem to stop your child from sucking on their thumb, then it’s important to see a professional.

By visiting an orthodontist, dentist or another child health professional, you will be provided with great tips and ideas to help stop your child from their bad habits.

At iSmile Orthodontics in Melbourne our experienced team love helping young smiles grow up into healthy adult smiles. We believe child dental health is important and everything should be done to prevent orthodontic issues from occurring.

If you would like to find out more information on orthodontic issues and treatment, or would like to book in for an appointment, then kindly click here.

Is orthodontics only for aesthetics?

For most patients who do not suffer from any dental health issues, the reason behind straightening their smile is solely for aesthetic purposes. 

Some people tend to feel uncomfortable when their smile is not straight due to crooked, overlapped or gapped teeth.

A major issue in today’s society is that first impressions matter the most, and many people are quick to judge one another on looks, whether we like it or not.

So many patients choose to straighten their teeth to gain their desired smile, to improve their self-image or their appearance from other people.

However, getting orthodontic help has major health benefits alongside cosmetic benefits.

Health benefits of straighter teeth

There are a number of health benefits associated with straightening your teeth, including the following:

Easier to clean

When your teeth are straight, they are much easier to keep clean. There are no crooked or crowded teeth to make flossing a nightmare and brushing harder. 

Since both flossing and brushing are easier, there are less chances of food particles becoming trapped and causing plaque and tooth erosion.

Chewing is easier

Crooked and misaligned teeth are more inefficient at chewing foods, as there is less surface area. Teeth that are not straight also place stress on the jaw, which can cause discomfort and pain in some cases.

Did you also know that the better you chew your food, the easier it is for your body to digest the food and the more nutrients you receive?

Reduced tooth wear

When your teeth are straight, there is reduced stress placed on them while eating and chewing.

Teeth that are misaligned, uneven or crooked tend to wear down quicker than straight teeth.

Reduced chances of chips and breaks

Teeth that are not straight are more likely to become damaged during an accident. Since straight teeth are easier to keep clean, they are also less prone to chips and cracks.

Improved speech

Your teeth play an important role in your speech, which means that gapped, crowded, protruding and misaligned teeth can negatively affect your speech.

Many people wouldn’t think about this, but after you achieve straighter teeth, you will also notice speech improvements.

Better overall health

Since straighter teeth are easier to clean, your chances of developing gum disease or cavities are reduced. This actually improves your overall health, as gum disease and plaque are known contributors of diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.

Straighter teeth with iSmile Orthodontics

If you are looking for orthodontic treatment, please contact the experienced team at iSmile Orthodontics.

We offer traditional metal braces, Invisalign clear aligners, clear braces and more.

For more information or to book in for an appointment, please click here.

What is the purpose of retainers after braces?

Wearing braces or clear aligners may create a beautiful smile, but it doesn’t retain the smile post treatment!

Once your treatment is finished, your teeth want to return to their original positions, as teeth are always adapting and moving.

Which is where retainers come in! Retainers are designed to retain your new smile and stop teeth returning to their original positions.

After having your braces removed, this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but retainers are important.

Your teeth need time to adjust into their new positions and become comfortable in the soft tissue and jawbone where they now sit.

Your retainer will be custom made from impressions taken of your newly straightened teeth and made from wire and acrylic material.

Are retainers necessary after braces?

At iSmile Orthodontics we say retainers are absolutely necessary after your treatment, as retainers play a vital role in maintaining your results.

You don’t want your teeth to return to the original positions, as it would mean the time, costs and stress of having braces would have all been wasted.

You can help to ensure your great results are maintained by wearing the retainer provided.

There are many stories of patients receiving braces treatment a second time! Why? Because they did not wear their braces as instructed by the orthodontist, resulting in their teeth shifting and returning to original positions.

Don’t take any chances, wear your retainers and maintain that straight smile!

Types of retainers

There are two variants of retainers: removable or fixed.

Removable retainers can be easily taken out for eating and cleaning your mouth and should be worn full-time for at least one year after braces are removed. However, your orthodontist will provide you a length of time, as every patient is different. Once your new smile is set in place and it’s safe not to wear your retainer full-time, you should still continue to wear it overnight, and indefinitely in many cases.

Fixed retainers are cemented to the back of your teeth and will usually be kept in for several years, if not decades.

Fixed retainers:

These retainers, also known as bonded retainers, are typically a thin stainless-steel wire that is cemented to the back of your teeth to maintain your new smile. The wire is not visible and may feel a bit odd for a little while, but we can ensure you will probably forget it’s even there after a while.

Hawley retainers:

The most common retainer, the Hawley retainer is removable. It should be removed for cleaning, eating and can be removed for special events and photos!

This retainer is made from metal wires and plastic. The metal wires fit against the six front teeth and have loops near the canines to allow for minor adjustments as your teeth settle into place!

However, due to this retainer being made from plastic it can become distorted or warp from heat or impact damage, so please handle with care.

Essix retainers:

The Essix retainer, also known as an invisible retainer, is a clear plastic device that fits over your teeth to keep them straight.

It is important to follow the advice of your orthodontist about how to wear and clean your retainer. It is not only about wearing your retainer, but also about maintaining great oral hygiene, which includes brushing twice, flossing and rinsing your mouth daily.

Permanent retainers require cleaning carefully to remove trapped bacteria, debris and plaque. While removable retainers should be removed and carefully cleaned.

iSmile recommends following your orthodontist’s advice about how to wear and clean your retainer, as it varies depending on the type of retainer.

How to clean and take care of your retainers

In general, you must handle your retainers with care and use the following techniques to clean:

Hawley / Clear Plastic Retainer:

  • Remove retainer from mouth and clean while it’s still wet, before debris hardens.
  • Use lukewarm water to rinse your retainer (after every meal if possible).
  • Mixing lukewarm water and a mild soap together on a soft toothbrush or denture brush is suggested for deeper cleaning of a retainer.
  • Make sure to rinse your retainer again and give your teeth a clean before reinserting your retainer.
  • Soaking your retainer once a week in an anti-bacterial denture solution helps keep it fresh by killing harmful bacteria.

If any debris is hardened and will not come off, make sure to bring your retainer to your orthodontist as they will be able to help. DO NOT try hard scrubbing, hot water or abrasive solutions.

When you have removed your retainer, make sure to place it inside the protective plastic case, to prevent damages or losing it.

Fixed retainer:

Brushing your teeth is not difficult, but flossing will take more effort.

To floss, you should take a 6-inch piece of floss and use a floss threader to thread the floss under your retainer wire between your lower front teeth.

Once the floss is under your retainer wire, move it up and down between the teeth, all the way to the gum line and gently below the gum line if possible.

Slide the floss sideways to make sure you remove trapped debris and plaque.

Repeat this process for each tooth attached to the retainer.

At iSmile Orthodontics, our team works to make sure all our patients feel comfortable and understand every step of their treatment process. Our number one priority is your smile and happiness.

If you have any questions, regarding your retainers or orthodontic treatment, please ask our experienced team as we are happy to provide answers. For more information or to book in for an appointment, please contact us here!

Children’s orthodontic issues

Would you like to know if your child is suffering from any abnormalities in their mouth?

The best way to find out is to bring your child to an orthodontist at age seven for a check-up. This will allow the orthodontist to discover any issues regarding your child’s teeth, jaw or facial irregularities.

Avoiding visiting an orthodontist because you think your child has no issues is not recommended, as some issues are not always immediately apparent. Further, the orthodontist can check out for issues relating to your child’s permanent teeth (adult teeth).

We will discuss all the most common orthodontic issues which children suffer from.

Common orthodontic issues for children

Crowding

Crowding means there is not enough room for teeth to fit normally along your child’s jaw. This can be the result of a displaced or small jaw, dental trauma or irregular teeth sizes.

Crowded teeth can prevent good oral hygiene, and treatment such as partial braces can help bring teeth into place.

Abnormal Eruptions

Abnormal eruptions happen when a tooth begins emerging through the gum but is located in the wrong spot. Teeth which do not grow fully through or erupt abnormally can be extracted to prevent issues later on.

Too much space

Happens when either the teeth are too small relative to the jaw; or when teeth don’t grow at all or are lost too early.

Crossbites

The top teeth do not line up correctly and are positioned slightly behind the bottom teeth when the jaw closes, causing problems chewing and eating. Partial braces or rapid palatal expanders can be used to help treat crossbites in children.

Underbites

Result of the lower teeth extending out further than the upper teeth, creating an underbite. Common causes are undergrowth of the upper jawbone, or overgrowth of the lower jawbone. The earlier this issue is diagnosed, the chances of simple intervention methods which help avoid chances of requiring jaw surgery to fix the underbite.

Overbite

Result of the upper teeth extending way down past the lower teeth, basically completely covering them while the jaw is closed. This issue is referred to as a “deep bite” and can cause dental wear and discomfort. Overbites can also cause the lower teeth to bite the roof of the mouth causing discomfort.

Open bite

Open bites are caused when the front teeth do not close at all, while the back teeth are touching. This issue is caused by simple things such as thumb and pacifier sucking, tongue thrusting and jaw issues.

Increased Overjet

A type of overbite, but this time it’s caused by the front teeth being ahead of the lower teeth. Causes a horizontal gap between the front teeth. Increased overjet’s increase the chances of suffering tooth fractures.

It’s best to visit an orthodontist if you think your child is suffering any dental malocclusion’s and to follow the orthodontist’s advice on what treatments are recommended. Having your child’s dental issues treated earlier, reduces the chances of complex issues during their teen and adult life.

At iSmile Orthodontics located in Victoria, precisely in Bundoora, Mernda, and Caroline Springs; our team is passionate about helping all patients achieve their best dental hygiene. If you would like to know more about children’s orthodontics, or another orthodontic issue, or to book an appointment at iSmile Orthodontics, please click here.

Why is sugar so bad for our teeth?

Sugar is the cause, acid is the problem

The issue is that sugar itself isn’t the problem, it’s the cause of the problem. The bacteria in our mouth feeds off the sugar in foods and drinks we consume, which creates acid that attacks our teeth. This acid is the cause of enamel erosion, which can lead to cavities, infections, tooth decay and staining.

Acids

These acids begin a process called demineralisation, which is the leaching of minerals from our enamel. This causes erosion and damage to the protective layer of our teeth. This process happens every time we eat or drink products containing sugar.

Hard foods alongside acids are the most damaging to our enamel as biting down can cause cracks or chips to the enamel.

Enamel

Did you know that enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, as it contains the highest percentage of minerals? It’s also critical for the survival of your teeth, as enamel coats our teeth with a protective layer to protect against plaque, acids and decay.

Enamel restoration

Weakened enamel, fortunately, can be restored to a better state by restoring the minerals.

Some ways to strengthen your enamel:

  • Stimulating the flow of saliva is important as it contains calcium and other minerals that coat our teeth, which helps to keep strong, healthy teeth.

 

  • Avoiding food and drinks that cause demineralisation to enamel, such as candy, soft drinks and other sweet foods/treats.

 

  • Using remineralising products such as fluoride containing water, food, toothpaste and other dental products.

 

  • Make sure you brush your teeth properly and at least twice a day.

 

  • Develop a healthy mineral rich diet containing whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables and lean protein.

So, do you have a sweet tooth?

If so, remember that once your enamel is destroyed, it’s gone for good. So, protecting your enamel with good oral hygiene is important if you care about your oral health.

Sugar isn’t just bad for our oral health

In general, too much sugar is bad for our bodies. Sugar not only affects our teeth, but it also leads to other minor and dangerous health issues. Such as blood sugar problems, weight gain, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease, slowed cognitive functions and increased risk of heart attacks.

Our friendly professional team at iSmile Orthodontics recommends you take care of your teeth and manage your daily sugar intakes as we care about you and your oral health. We offer a range of orthodontic treatments to both children and adults, including invisible braces, Invisalign and traditional metal braces. We believe straight teeth are easy to clean and lead to less issues.

We are based in Melbourne at three different locations including Caroline Springs, Bundoora and Mernda. We offer interest-free payment plans and your first initial consultation is absolutely free.

So if you have been looking to straighten your teeth, contact us to find out more information or to book a consultation.