According to the CDC, 20% of children from age 5 to 11 have at least one decayed tooth that is untreated. Many parents have difficulty determining how much dental care their kids need and at what age certain dental milestones should happen. Surprisingly, good dental care should begin even before your child’s first tooth appears. Read more to learn about unhealthy habits for children that you should look for in your child.
Unhealthy Dental Habits
Your child is at risk of tooth decay and other dental issues since infanthood. Watch for the following habits to protect your child’s oral health.
Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants is often referred to as ‘baby bottle tooth decay’. The damage most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth can be affected. Various factors contribute to an infant’s tooth decay, including prolonged exposure to drinks containing sugar, the use of improperly cleaned bottles or pacifiers and bacteria-filled saliva being passed from mother to child. Protect your child’s teeth by limiting their sugar intake and properly cleaning any utensils that will come in contact with their mouth.
Thumb sucking is normal childhood behavior and shouldn’t be concerning until permanent teeth begin to emerge. At this point, your child’s teeth can be pushed out of alignment and may create an overbite. Their jaws can become misaligned and the roof of their mouth may also become malformed. These results can affect your child’s speech and dietary habits.
Children must decide on their own to stop sucking their thumb. Family members can offer positive reinforcement with rewards if necessary. Negative reinforcement such as scolding or punishments will make the child defensive and drive them back in the habit. For older children, you should try to determine if the habit is stress related. Your dentist can provide dental appliances to be worn by your child to prevent thumb sucking.
One of the best ways to prevent cavities is supervising your child’s diet. Sugary foods, juices and candy (especially gummies) can erode your child’s tooth enamel. Treat these snacks as treats to be enjoyed minimally and have your child rinse their mouth with water or brush their teeth after consumption. This washing routine should also follow the consumption of sweetened vitamins or medicines.
You can protect your child’s teeth by instilling strong dental hygiene into their daily routine. Have them brush their teeth twice a day, floss daily and use mouthwash. Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride through your family’s water source and dental products. Visit your children’s dentist at least twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings.
About the Author
Dr. Tera Pollock has over twenty years of experience in the dental field. The majority of her career has been spent providing pediatric care. If you have further questions about your child’s dental health, she can be reached through her website or at 972-475-0301.