Thumb Sucking & Pacifiers: Info & Tips For Ending These Habits

Portland children’s dentist Dr. Steven Pike discusses thumb sucking and pacifiers:

  • Are these habits harmful to your kid’s teeth?
  • What age to start weaning your kids off these habits?
  • Helpful tips for getting your kids to stop sucking their thumb or pacifier

If you would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to care for your child’s teeth. Give us a call (503) 297-1711


Video Transcription

Hi, this is Dr. Steven Pike and today I would like to talk to you about thumb sucking and pacifiers.

Is Thumb Sucking or Pacifiers Harmful To My Child’s Teeth?

The first thing I would like to say about these type of sucking habits is that some kids find it very soothing to suck their thumbs or a pacifier. This is a coping mechanism and it allows kids to process stress in the world.

So , getting a child to stop who doesn’t want to stop can be a very difficult process in certain situations.

How Does Thumb Sucking Effect Development Of My Child’s Teeth And Mouth?

It will constrict the upper jaw and it will push out the upper teeth. It is important to realize that the shape of the upper jaw is determined by your tongue putting pressure on the teeth and your lips and cheek putting pressure in the other direction.

When kids are young they are very malleable and if they stop the thumb sucking and pacifier at a young age everything will go back to normal. If they stop at age six or seven it is a little bit more difficult to bring everything back to the shape that it would have been.

At What Age Should I Start To Wean My Child From Thumb Sucking Or Pacifier Use?

There are no absolutes by this but by age 4 its best the habit is on its way out.

Can You Offer Any Tips To Help Get My Child To Stop Thumb Sucking?

A technique that I would recommend to break this habit it to have a conversation with your child. In this conversation, you could ask them if they think that the thumb sucking or pacifier is getting to their teeth. Then you can ask them to create a solution; say okay it is causing this problem what do you think we can do about it?

Nudge your child in the right direction with suggestions like, do you think we should give your pacifier to the pacifier fairy? Then you can pick a time to “give it away”. Some people choose to tie it to a balloon and let the balloon float off, that’s a very nice way to do it. It also gives your kid a little bit of control over the process and they don’t feel as bad about it.

Any Final Tips For Ending The Habit?

Many kids are very attached to these habits and if you just spring it on the child one day and say., okay we are going to stop this today, then you are likely to be met with some resistance. However, if you give your child time to process this it tends to work out more easily for everybody involved.

You can say; you are three years old now, when you are three and a half you can’t use it in the car anymore, you can only use it in bed. You are giving them time to think about it and you are setting a firm deadline and you are whittling away at the habit.

If you have any questions about this please feel free to give us a call. We would love to talk more about it. (503) 297-1711.

Children’s Dentist Discusses Sealants

Children’s dentist Dr. Steve Pike explains what sealants are, how long they usually last, and their various benefits.

Learn more at or contact us with any questions about the video.

Give us a call today to schedule an appointment (503) 297-1711


Video Transcription

Hi, this is Dr. Steven Pike and today I would like to talk to you about sealants.

Sealants are a protective coating that we put on permanent molars. It goes deep in the depths of the grooves. The grooves of the back molar are very deep and very narrow making them almost impossible to clean.

Plaque and food get up there and then the bacteria comes in causing cavities. It is a very common place to get cavities. Almost 90% of cavities start in these tiny grooves and this is the best strategy that we know of to prevent cavities in the molars.

At What Age Are Sealants Usually Put On A Child’s Molars?

The first stage that we put sealants on your child’s mouth is when their six-year molars have fully erupted, when they are all the way through the gum. This usually happens somewhere between the ages of six and eight.

How Long Do Sealants Last?

People often ask how long sealants last? I would say on average they last about ten years.

What Other Benefits Do Sealants Provide?

We are now in an age of bioactive dental materials. These are material that give off medicine to the teeth that make them more resistant to decay.

The sealants that we use give off a tiny bit of calcium, phosphorus, and a little bit of fluoride. Even if they wear down a little bit over time they are still leaving the tooth in a more healthy place than it was before the sealant.

How Effective Are Sealants at Reducing Cavities In Children?

We see about a 70% reduction in cavities with kids who have had sealants placed. In my mind, that is a very significant number.

Should All Kids Get Sealants?

Not everybody has to have sealants, it is a preventive strategy. You don’t have to do it. It works well but some people are not able to tolerate it.

It requires meticulous cleaning of the back teeth and meticulously placing the sealant. Some kids are just not able to tolerate that and in those cases we are just better off not doing the sealants and just making sure they brush those areas at home.

If you have any other questions about sealants give us a call we would love to talk more about it (503) 297-1711

3 Practical Methods For Getting Your Child To Brush Their Teeth

Getting your kids to brush their teeth can be a tough chore for some parents. Dr. Steven Pike explains 3 methods parents can try that will not only help your child to brush their teeth but can also be fun!

Dr. Pike Dentistry has been serving Portland and Beaverton children for over 40 years! If you would like to schedule an appointment or have questions, give us call (503) 297-1711

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Dr. Steven Pike and I would like to talk to you about how to get your kids to brush their teeth every day.

Every day parents say it’s such a struggle, my kids dread it, I don’t like doing it. I would like to give you some ideas on techniques that you can use on a regular basis that should make life much easier.

There are three concepts that work very well. Model the behavior, use role playing games and do a think through problem-solving session with your kids.

#1 Model The Behavior

The first concept is to model the behavior that you want. When your kids are young they want to be like you, this doesn’t hold true when they are teenagers, but when they are young when they are in the two to five-year-old age range they want to be just like you.

They see you doing adult things and they want to do those same adult things. So pick a time and you will put on a show. In this show, you will tell your kids everything they need to know about brushing their teeth. You don’t tell them you are putting on a show you just do it.

Say hey let’s go to the bathroom I’m going to brush my teeth you can watch or say you can brush with me that will be great! I like to brush my teeth every night and I do it every morning. That keeps my teeth nice and strong and healthy and that way I don’t get cavities.

When you do this modeling you can address all the issues that come up. You can say, sometimes I’m tired and I really don’t want to brush my teeth but I do it anyway because I know it’s a good thing to do.

#2 Role Playing

Role playing is another concept you can use to deepen the knowledge that you’ve already given your kids through modeling.

Kids love to work out what they’ve learned and what they are processing about the world through role playing games. You can take one of your child’s stuffed animals and say; let’s get brown bear, we want brown bear to have strong healthy teeth right? Yes, of course we do! So let’s brush brown bears teeth.
They could say, but daddy brown bear doesn’t have teeth. Just respond, I know brown bear doesn’t have teeth but let’s just practice it will be fun.

Then you can ask all the questions and show how we brush our teeth. You can say, okay brown bear we do this every night and every morning with just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Make sure you brush the back teeth.

There are certain dilemmas that people commonly run into with tooth brushing. You can address these dilemmas with the role playing games. You can say, brown bear wants to brush his own teeth and he doesn’t want mommy and daddy to help. Brown bear you’re being very naughty, I know kids can brush their teeth but they need a little bit of help from their parents and so you’ve got to let us help. Brown bear still doesn’t want mommy and daddy to help. Okay brown bear, we’re going to have to put you in time out.

Kids will love this and you can have a lot of fun with that and everybody will have fun. This is not just play, it’s play but it’s also learning. This is helping young kids, especially toddlers and three and four-year-olds, this is how they are learning about the world.

#3 Problem Solving Session

The last concept to think about is to use a problem-solving session.

This is a conversation that you can have with your child and in this conversation you will pose a series of questions. These questions are simple and you know the answers. You want to let your child answer, that is the important thing about this. You ask the question and then stop talking, let them think through the answer and listen to their answer.

You might say, little Madeline what do you think we should do so that your teeth stay strong and healthy? She might say, we should eat healthy foods and that way we shouldn’t get cavities. You could answer, oh that’s great!

Make sure you provide a lot of positive encouragement. As a general idea, kids love positive encouragement, they love to make their parents happy. So you say, oh you think we should eat some healthy foods, what are some healthy foods? She could say, I think that we should eat some cheese and lots of vegetable that way we won’t get cavities.

Those are very good foods! What are some foods that we shouldn’t eat? We shouldn’t eat candy. That’s exactly right! What else should we do? I don’t know. Do you think we should brush our teeth every morning and every night? Yeah, that’s a good idea. Should you do that before or after pajamas?

You think through all the questions and you let them answer it. You let them solve the problem but you’re leading them to the solution and they have some amount of ownership.


If you use all three of these techniques your kids will be much more willing to brush their teeth. You’ll find nighttime battles are much smaller and the morning battles are much smaller. Things will flow smoother. It still may not be perfect but it will be an improvement.

If you would like to talk more about these techniques and how they might specifically apply to your family or your children, schedule an appointment and come by. I would live to talk to you about it. (503) 297-1711.

You might also enjoy viewing our post and video: 3 Ways To Lower Your Childs Risk Of Getting Cavities

3 Ways To Lower Your Childs Risk Of Getting Cavities

If you’re like most parents, cavities are one of the main concerns you have when taking your kids to the dentist.

You probably know that regular brushing can help prevent cavities, but in the video below, Dr. Steven Pike explains 3 alternative ways you can use to lower your child’s risk for getting cavities.




Video Transcription

Hi, this is Dr. Steven Pike and today I would like to talk with you about some alternative ways to prevent cavities.

Traditionally we have all heard about preventing cavities by brushing with fluoride toothpaste and eating sugar less often. Those are very valid techniques but oftentimes people find that even by trying those techniques it still does not work and they still get cavities.

These are some other things that you can do that will help to lower your risk of getting cavities.

Alternative Methods For Preventing Cavities

#1. Baking Soda

There are several different ways to use baking soda. You can make a mouthwash. Get a glass of warm water and add baking soda until you can’t dissolve anymore, then rinse it in your mouth for 30 seconds, spit it out and do not rinse it out with fresh water. Do this every night before bed.

Is Baking Soda Safe For Kids To Use?

It is safe for both kids and adults but I am only speaking towards children here. If you are an adult and you are in a medically complicated situation you should probably talk to your primary care physician of course.

How Much Baking Soda Should Be Used?

You will make a supersaturated solution. To do this get a half cup of water, keep adding baking soda until you can’t add any more. If you don’t wish to do that you can take the toothpaste that you use, put it on the toothbrush and then dip the toothbrush into some baking soda and just brush your teeth like that. That will work great too!

There are a lot of different ways that you can use this and they will all work just fine.

Is It Better To Use Baking Soda As A Paste Or A Liquid?

You can use it as a paste or a liquid, either way is fine. Just get the baking soda on the mouth, it will raise the PH of the mouth and encourage the growth of the good bacteria and discourage the growth of the bad bacteria.

#2. Arginine

You can use a product that has arginine in it. Arginine is an amino acid which is naturally found in the body. They are starting to add this as an ingredient in some toothpaste. These toothpastes are being sold for the relief of sensitivity but they work great for preventing cavities.

How Does Arginine Help Prevent Cavities?

The way that arginine works is that it raises the PH in the mouth. When you raise the PH in the mouth it promotes the growth of good bacteria and it makes it an inhospitable environment for the bacteria that likes to cause cavities. So you get more of the good guys and less of the bad guys.

What Products Contain Arginine?

There are a few commercial products out there that have arginine and some are available by prescription only which we sell here in the office. There is also a Tom’s of Maine sensitivity relief product that does contain arginine and xylitol, which we will talk about next.

 #3. Xylitol

This is a natural sugar which comes from birch trees. It was discovered in Finland and they found that people that use xylitol get fewer cavities.

How Does Xylitol Work To Prevent Cavities?

The way it works is that the bacteria that causes cavities, the streptococcus mutans, do not like to digest the xylitol. So we have less strep mutans with people that have six grams of xylitol per day.

This is the difficult thing with xylitol, it has a threshold dose. So you need to have three servings of xylitol spread out throughout the day in order for it to be effective. If you don’t see that threshold you really don’t get the decrease in cavities. It doesn’t cause any harm but we don’t get the same benefit.

What Products Contain Xylitol?

Xylitol is an over the counter medication. It gets put in chewing gum, toothpaste and all kinds of products. It is also in a powdered form or a crystal form. You can go online and find all kinds of products. People that use xylitol well often buy this in bulk. They will go on Amazon or wherever and buy 1,000 pieces of xylitol gum and then after every meal, they will have 2 pieces of gum.

In these people, it will not only get rid of the bad bacteria but it will also increase the flow of saliva which also has a preventive effect.


All three of these products are similar in that they all promote the growth of good bacteria in the mouth. Good bacteria doesn’t cause cavities.

If you have any questions about these products or you would like to discuss other products, please give us a call and come on in. We would love to talk to you about this! (503) 297-1711.

Dr. Pike Dentistry For Children is a Portland pediatric dentist serving children throughout the metro area and Beaverton.

How Much Toothpaste To Use On My Child’s Teeth?

Dr. Steven Pike demonstrates how much toothpaste to use on your child’s teeth and at what age and how often you should brush their teeth.


Video Transcription

Hi, this is Dr. Steven Pike.

People often ask us what type of toothpaste should they use for their children, at what age and how often? These are great questions and they are very important to maintaining healthy teeth in your children.

Use Fluoride Toothpaste Twice A Day

We recommend that you use a fluoride toothpaste. You should do this roughly around the eruption of the first tooth or somewhere around the age of one year old. Brush morning and night, two times a day, everyday.

Amount Of Toothpaste – Kids Aged 1-3

Another important thing to consider is the amount of fluoride toothpaste. For kids ages 1-3 use just a tiny bit, like a grain of rice. We are talking just a tiny little bit and at such a small amount they can swallow the whole thing, you don’t have to worry about spitting it out, and it will be safe and beneficial for the child.

Amount Of Toothpaste – Kids Aged 3+

After the age of three you can use a little bit of a bigger amount of toothpaste. From that point on you use about a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. So, brush away parents!

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to schedule an appointment or send us an email. We would love to talk with you more about this.

Thank you.


Creating good brushing habits with your child is important. We hope these tips have helped, but if you have additional questions, you can always call or email our office.

We are a Portland pediatric dentist serving families and children throughout the metro area and Beaverton, Oregon.

Should I Fix A Cavity In My Childs Tooth?

In the video below, Dr. Steven Pike explains three scenarios to address the question of whether or not to fix a cavity in your child’s baby tooth.


Video Transcription

Hi, this is Dr. Steven Pike.

Today’s question is, if my child has a cavity in a baby tooth, does that cavity need to be fixed? The quick answer is: It depends. Let’s go through a few situations which are relevant.

Small Cavity In A Baby Tooth

Let’s say it is a small cavity on a baby tooth which is going to fall out in a year. In that situation the tooth will probably fall out before the cavity ever becomes a problem.

Improved Brushing And Diet

Some other things to consider is if you have a cavity and you make changes to brushing and to your diet, you may not need to fix that cavity. It may just stop growing and never become a problem before it falls out.

Cavities Should Be Fixed Before They Grow

Another thing to consider is that you may have a cavity but it’s on a tooth that is going to be around for 6 more years and it may be a cavity that we suspect is going to grow. In that case it’s much easier to fix a small cavity than it is to fix a big cavity so you would be better off fixing the small cavity.

If this is something that you have experienced please feel free to come by for a visit or email our office with a question. We would be delighted to help you out with this situation.


If you’re in need of pediatric dentist to examine your child’s cavity, please give us a call at (503) 297-1711. We would love to be of service!

Is It Normal For My Child To Cry At The Dentist?

Dr. Allan Pike answers the question: Is it normal for a child to cry at the dentist?

In the video below, he addresses the question and shares a couple of the techniques used at Dr. Pike Dentistry For Children to help your child feel more comfortable and in control.

New patients are welcome! Please call to schedule a visit or complete our new patient registration form.

Video Transcription: Is It Normal For My Child To Cry At The Dentist?

Hi, this is Dr. Allan Pike.

Some people ask me if it is normal for their children to cry at the dentist. I say it certainly is common but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways of treating children so that they really don’t cry at all.

You have to give them a little feeling like they have some control of things and then they won’t cry. Don’t force them and don’t hurt them and they will be just fine. You have to take the time to treat each child differently at their own speed and go with it slowly.

One Technique We Use

We have little gerbils in the office, so some of the techniques that we use to let children feel like they’re in control is we let them feed the gerbils. They love it and pretty soon they realize that they are in a safe place; they have never been here before but they realize that they are in a safe place.

Then it’s a matter of introducing things slowly. They call it progressive desensitization. It’s about doing things as fast as a child can tolerate it or as slowly as any child can tolerate it.

You just have to go at their own speed. We don’t start cleaning their teeth or doing a filling from scratch, we introduce it slowly. We may do it on a mannequin at first or on their fingernails at first.

Little by little they get accustomed to things and they realize how easy it is. They start playing around, had a lot of fun and they just smoothly go into whatever you want to do without force.

If you have any questions about things like that, please give me a call or send us an email.

How We Are Unique

At Dr. Pike Dentistry For Children, there are three ways we are unique. Dr. Steven Pike explains in the video below.

If you are the parent, we would love the opportunity to meet with you and care for your child’s teeth. Please call us or register online. we look forward to meeting you!


Video Transcription: 3 Ways Dr. Pike Dentistry For Children Is Unique

Hi, this is Dr. Steve Pike and today I would like to tell you why our office is unique.

There are three things that are really important and they fall under the category of us doing everything we can to make going to the dentist a good experience for kids.

#1 – Specialized Interaction

The first thing is the way we interact with your child, it is going to be specific for that child. Some kids are comfortable going a little bit quicker and some kids need us to go a little bit slower.

When a child comes here we watch how they are responding to what we are doing and then we change what we are doing. It is a very person specific kind of approach.

#2 – Progressive Desensitization

We do what we call progressive desensitization. We slowly introduce the kids to all of the things that we are doing.

We see how they respond and we either move forward or back up to see where they are not comfortable.

# 3 – Kids Get A Say!

The last thing is, all of the kids that come here have a certain amount of say. If they need for us to stop all they have to do is raise their hand. As soon as they raise their hand we stop right away. Every person that works in this office knows that.

Because we don’t use force and we give the kids a certain amount of say, it is actually very rare to hear a child cry in this office.

If you would like to know more about this, please feel free to schedule an appointment or send us an email. We would love to talk more about this.

Thank you.

Pediatric Dentistry – Building A No Fear Practice

Video Transcription

Dr. Pike: I started out doing things differently than what I do now.

It was much more of an authoritarian approach before because at the time that was the prevailing way of doing things, like “You better open up your mouth right now or you’re going to get in a lot of trouble.”

We would talk like that to kids and little by little, I realized that the kids that I tried to intimidate them into allowing me to fix their teeth – as they got older, some of them were afraid to go to the dentist.

And that’s when I knew that I had to start figuring out some non-frightening way of getting things done.

Parent: There’s the games and the gerbels and the toys. I’m telling you sometimes it is hard to leave.

I think I’ve had to take him out crying once because he didn’t want to leave. He was having way too much fun.

He just has a real ease about working with the children and it makes it flow, I guess.

Dr Pike: Madison just sets the mood. There’s something about the calming effect of a dog. It’s not a dentist’s office anymore.

Parent: This is a new age and so this is what our kids deserve.

Dr. Pike: Even though I’m a dentist and my primary focus should be teeth, I have to put the child first and their memory first and the teeth second.

As long as I do that and as long as I remember that, everything else follows just fine.

Best Foods for Kids to Eat to Promote Healthy Teeth and Gums

While proper brushing and flossing are important to promote healthy teeth and gums, what your kids eat will also make a big difference when it comes to their oral health. In fact, there are several foods that you can serve your children in order to promote a healthier mouth. Find out which foods your child should be eating in order to achieve the best possible oral health.


Although juice, soda, and chocolate milk may be your child’s favorite beverages, it is important to limit the frequency of these sugary drinks. The more often sugar from juice, soda, or chocolate milk is on the teeth, the more it feeds the bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria then produce acid, which lead to cavities. Water and milk are great choices for your family’s default beverage option.


Researchers believe that cheese may have protective properties that can keep teeth healthy and prevent cavities. Consumption of cheese increases oral pH by stimulating salivary flow and raising plaque calcium levels, both of which promote demineralization of teeth. Cheese also contains casein phosphopeptides, amorphous calcium phosphate which plan an important role in re-mineralizing teeth.

Whole Foods

Foods that are less processed foods are often lower in sugar. Conversely, foods that are more processed are usually higher in sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup. Eating foods lower in added sugars will make you less prone to cavities and promote better overall health. Always read the labels and look for less processed foods with less added sugar.

Avoid Dried Fruits

Dried fruits such as raisins, fruit roll-ups, and freeze-dried mangos are marketed to parents as being healthy snack choices. Dried sticky foods like these may stick on the teeth for hours. These “natural” products have sugars that feed the bacteria in the mouth and lead to cavities.