Oral health is a part of your child’s overall health and learning how to prevent dental issues before they become a problem is essential for all parents. There are many common habits that can harm your child’s dental health – some that you may not be aware of. From excessive sugar intake to grinding teeth at night, there are several factors to consider when promoting good oral health among kids. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the more common habits that may be negatively affecting your child’s dental health, and some helpful tips on how to promote better oral hygiene.
Using a Pacifier or Thumb Sucking
Prolonged pacifier use, thumb sucking, or other oral habits can cause permanent skeletal/bony changes in orofacial development. These changes can be partially or wholly reversible if the habit is stopped before age 3. As children get older, interventions like early orthodontic treatment and/or myofunctional therapy will be necessary. Children with these malformations often develop an “open bite” (where the front teeth do not close together) and/or a “crossbite” (where the upper jaw and teeth are narrower than the lower). Eating, speech, and airway difficulties are often linked to the malformation of the jawbones.
Drinking Juice and Other Sugary Liquids
Do your best to cut down on the amount of juice you give to your child. Drinking too much fruit juice puts your child at risk for developing more cavities. Sports drinks are another sugary culprit, so we suggest saving those for extra humid days or when it’s really needed during a sporting event. Juice, soda, and sports drinks have a lot of sugar and are acidic. They are not a good combination for our teeth as they lead to tooth decay. If they do have a sugary drink or treat, make sure they rinse their mouth with water or brush their teeth to wash away all the sugar.
If your child has a habit of nail biting, it’s best to stop that habit as soon as you can. Biting your fingernails or other items will wear down your teeth and it also wears down your most recent dental work. The best way to stop this habit is through a positive reinforcement and reward system.
Whether your child clenches their teeth at night or during the day, it can do significant damage to their enamel. Grinding your teeth while you’re asleep is common among both kids and adults. Unfortunately, when children repeatedly grind their teeth, it may be a sign of mouth breathing and poor quality of sleep. It’s a good idea to let Dr. Cohen know if you have concerns about this.
Skipping Dental Checkups
It’s important that your child sees a dentist for regular checkups to monitor the growth of the teeth and jaws, to prevent any cavities, and to identify orthodontic issues. We recommend bringing your child to their first dental checkup when their first tooth appears, or before they turn one year old. Then, we recommend a checkup twice a year after that. Always remember to encourage your little ones to develop good dental habits early on. If you follow this guide, you can prevent these harmful habits like limiting the amount of sugary drinks they have, discouraging nail biting or thumb sucking, scheduling regular dental checkups and regular brushing and flossing at home. To learn more about how to protect your child’s dental health, contact our team of experts at Smileline Orthodontics & Kids Dentistry