Do Pacifiers REALLY Affect the Way Teeth Develop? {Plus, other questions you’ve always wanted to ask…but never did.}

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Have you ever gone to an appointment {be it the dentist, or the doctor, or maybe even your hair stylist!} and really wanted to ask some slightly personal questions…but backed down for fear of judgement or guilt or both?  I know I sure have.  At almost each and every appointment I go to, I give the sugar-coated version of life — reporting to my dentist that I brush and floss every single day or that I have been exercising as much as my general practitioner recommends or that yes, of course I have been using that leave-in conditioner that my hair stylist insisted I use on a weekly basis.

But truth is, life is crazy.  I know that I’m far from perfect, and sometimes I just want to get real, admit my flaws, and ask those hard questions.  And I want people who can be upfront and honest with their answers in return.  I don’t always want the textbook, politically-correct answers.  Nope.  I want the real deal for life as a real mom.  So to start, I decided to interrogate question politely our dear friend and sponsors over at BLVD Dentistry with some of the top questions from myself and our contributor team.  Ready to hear what they have for us mamas?  Here goes…


How many days does the awfully painful “teething” last? {Read :: How many nights in a row can I medicate?}

Unfortunately, there isn’t a hard-and-fast answer to this one. Teething and tooth eruption varies from infant to infant.  {Remember the timeline and tips we shared?} They all grow at their own rate and so do their teeth! They will probably be going through a teething phase for many months as all of their primary teeth begin to break through the gums — but that painful, very irritable “teething” should only last a few days or weeks as each tooth is breaking the surface. But be ready for baby to be putting everything in their mouth during the teething time, even if they aren’t feeling especially irritable or uncomfortable, they still will want to be massaging their gums with anything they can get their hands on.

Do I REALLY have to bring my infant to you before she turns 1?

Teeth can begin coming in anytime between 4-7 months, but some babies won’t see their first tooth until almost a year! To ensure we are able to diagnose any problems *early* and get children acclimated to the dental office, we like to see them before they are a year old, or six months after their first tooth erupts. This is a general rule, parents should keep in mind that decay can occur as soon as teeth appear. So being proactive with that first trip to the dentist ensures we can make that first visit a happy and easy one, before any problems arise and ensure mom and dad are fully briefed on what they’re going to need to watch out for as more teeth begin to appear.

Is my child’s pacifier habit going to affect the way their teeth develop?  What about using a bottle after one year of age?

Using a pacifier should ideally stop by the time a child is 2 years of age. For some children, the easiest way to do this is to go cold turkey. For others, depending on their age and ability to reason, you can be creative about ways for them to help make the decision to say bye-bye to the paci. It will be a difficult few days, so just expect that.

I am religious about flossing and brushing my four year old’s teeth, but she’s already had TWO cavities.  What gives?!?

For some children no matter how well they brush and floss, they are still prone to getting cavities. Tooth decay is a disease known as dental caries that’s caused by specific germs, spreads within families, and can last a lifetime. Children can often have much more sugar in their diets at an early age which does not help. And the popularity of bottled water which doesn’t contain fluoride may also contribute to the growing problem. Also, studies have proven that moms and dads who frequently had cavities themselves, can actually pass germs into their child’s mouth by repeatedly eating from the same spoon as their baby or sharing a toothbrush with their toddler. This is a big no-no.

What’s the deal with fluoride?  Some things I read say not to EVER use it…while others recommend using it twice a day.  Are the rules the same for me and my kiddos too?

Fluoride is an important component to have in toothpaste. It helps remove plaque, a film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums every day. Plaque can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel. You can also get necessary fluoride in your tap water. For various reasons, people prefer not to drink tap water today. That is unfortunate. The fluoride that is placed in tap water has been shown to reduce children’s dental decay by up to 50%. By not drinking tap water, your family is not receiving this inexpensive and terrific preventive tool.

How can I stop gagging and dry heaving every.single.time. I brush my teeth?

Try to relax while brushing your teeth and thinking about something else. Also, be careful not to stick the toothbrush too far into the back of your throat and breathe through your nose.

This is a trick we have heard about but not verified as of yet… A key way to help stop the gagging is to find out where it starts. This can be done by simply using your toothbrush to brush your tongue.  The point nearest the front of your tongue that makes you gag is where you want to concentrate. Brush your tongue right where your gag begins.  Yes, you’ll gag, and it will be unpleasant — but not for long.  Spend about ten seconds brushing that area {and gagging}, and then call it a night. Repeat the process over the next few nights in the exact same spot.  You’ll notice you gag less each time you do it. Continue moving the brush farther back.  Each time you move the toothbrush back, your gag has been desensitized in the previous spot.  Keep moving it farther and farther back until you’ve reached the farthest visual point of your tongue.  Eventually, the toothbrush will come in contact with the soft palate, if it hasn’t already. Be persistent.  This whole process should take approximately a month to complete.

How often do I REALLY need to floss?  Because I can tell you that it’s not happening every day.

You need to floss every day. It takes 24 hours for plaque to become tartar and to become immoveable by a toothbrush, only by a professional cleaning at a dentist. To make flossing easier, try the plastic disposable, Y-shaped flossers that allow for easy extra reach. It is a daily task that helps prevent gum disease and tooth loss. Each tooth has five surfaces to clean, if  you don’t floss — you are leaving at least two of the surfaces unclean. Floss is the only thing that can really get into that space between the teeth and remove bacteria.

Is it true that some people just have “bad teeth” naturally – as in, from genetics or whatever?

Typically “bad teeth” are almost always a result of bad habits. While “crooked” or misaligned teeth are most often genetically influenced, the actual health of the teeth and gums is more affected by how we take care of them, than any other factor.  Eating habits during development of the teeth can also affect the health of teeth. Not having enough calcium in the diet during teeth development may cause the teeth to be weaker and predispose them to cavities. Having fluoride in the diet during teeth development has also shown to strengthen teeth and resist cavity formation. Despite these connections, your diet, dental care routine, and frequency of visits to an affordable dentist can turn around a potentially hopeless situation.

What is the best way to whiten my teeth – both at home and with you? Confession :: I drink a lot of coffee…and maybe some red wine too.

There are many options when it comes to whitening teeth, especially at home. Luckily, we offer an in office whitening system that will lighten teeth multiple shades in under an hour. The whitening gel breaks up stains while leaving the structure of your teeth unchanged. We can also provide you with take home trays and whitening gel so that you can keep your teeth up white without constantly coming to the office.


…so I’m not going to lie — I was REALLY hoping that the folks over at BLVD Dentistry were going to say that I didn’t need to floss my teeth everyday.  Or that there was some magical cure to end the gagging that started with my first pregnancy.  But hey, at least I can drink coffee and red wine and know that there is a way to safely keep my teeth looking white while doing so!  {Silver linings, people.}

As always, I am beyond grateful for all of BLVD Dentistry’s amazing insight, and if you have any other questions or need to schedule that bi-annual appointment – head on over to their website and use their handy-dandy ‘Request Appointment’ feature to get in soon.  Did we mention they have free teeth whitening forever???  Yes, please!

BLVD Rice Village
2402 Rice Blvd, Suite C
Houston, TX 77005

BLVD Heights
107 Yale St, Suite 300
Houston, TX 77007

BLVD Oak Forest
1343 W. 43rd St, Suite F
Houston, TX 77018

BLVD Galleria
1801 Post Oak Blvd, Suite 1D
Houston, TX 77056

Please Note :: This entire Houston Smiles series is graciously title sponsored by BLVD Dentistry; however, all thoughts and opinions are proudly our own.

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Kelly is the founder of Houston Moms Blog and has lived in this beautiful city nearly all of her life. She has a degree in education from Texas State University and was honored to teach special education for eight years to some of the cutest little kiddos you could ever meet. While teaching, Kelly met Cody – a tall drink of water and country boy to the core – and together, they fell in love, got married, and decided to start a family. In March 2011, they welcomed Hayes into the world, a silly but smart little boy with a story you have to read to believe. And in April 2013, their family was complete with the addition of Hadley, a super gregarious and oh-so-cute baby girl. Now, Kelly devotes her days to caring for her own little ones…and would not trade this new job of hers for the world! In her not-so-spare time, Kelly loves meeting up with her girlfriends for margaritas, failing miserably at Pinterest projects, and exploring this big old city with her two favorite little side-kicks in tow.


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