Kids’ teeth need oral protection even before their first baby tooth erupts.
Parents should clean their gums and with a wet washcloth to prevent sugars from milk accumulating there.
However, as your children grow up, they may forgo a few important oral care practices.
This affects their teeth which is why 19 percent of children aged between 2 to 19 have untreated decay.
Kids step into bad habits therefore, they spoil their teeth.
As a parent, it’s your duty to tell children to maintain proper oral hygiene and prevent them from stepping into these bad habits.
This article discusses what habits you want to stop in your children and how they can damage their teeth.
Keep reading to know how you can avoid them and protect your child’s teeth.
Bad Habits Affecting Kids’ Teeth: Facilitated by Parents
BreastFeeding During the Middle of the Night
Does this surprise you?
After all, feeding a child around the clock is absolutely necessary when they are only feeding on breast milk.
However, what we are talking about is when their baby teeth first come in.
Exposing your child’s teeth to the lactose in the milk during the night can cause cavities.
Lactose is a sugar that provides constitutes 40 percent of calories for a baby feeding on breast milk.
Therefore, if they get regular exposure then soon the baby’s teeth will start to decay.
As a mother, you may not have a way out of regular feedings in the middle of the night.
So to protect your child’s teeth you should clean their teeth with a warm washcloth.
You can also wash the leftover milk as soon as you complete feeding.
Giving Your Child Baby Bottles to Sleep
Your child should not have a feeding bottle at night.
As soon as you get rid of the bottle, the better.
Otherwise, it can cause baby bottle tooth decay.
Moreover, it leads to discoloration and pitting too.
Your child will go to sleep right away drinking milk from the bottles.
Hence, the sugars from juices or milk will remain on their teeth throughout the night.
These sugars will metabolize in acids and soon will eat away the tooth enamel.
Thus, you should not put your child to sleep using a feeding bottle.
Do Not Let Them Drink Through a Sippy Cup
Sippy Cups are useful when you want your child to give up on bottle feeding.
However, it is much easier for your child to carry it with them throughout the day.
They may also drink from it while going to bed.
This will essentially render the transition from bottles to sippy cups useless.
Your child should not always sip from the cups as this would decrease the chance of saliva to wash away the sugars.
If their mouth is always in contact with sugars then they will deposit on the tooth causing it to decay.
Only give them sippy cups when they are eating.
Also, encourage them to rinse their mouth with water right after they eat or drink something sweet.
Unhealthy Habits for Kids’ Teeth: Starting on Their Own
Thumb Sucking is a natural response for babies whenever they feel anxious.
It provides them comfort and they soon stop doing it.
However, it is concerning when they do not stop even after permanent teeth eruption.
Continuing thumb sucking will misalign their teeth and also affect their shape.
Your child can have buck teeth that hinder chewing and speaking.
If your child continues sucking their thumb beyond they are 4, then it is time you intervene.
This bad habit can affect their permanent teeth when they are between 4 to 6 years.
A rewarding system, making them watch thumb sucking videos and singing poems on the subject can help them quit it.
Though, you may have to be persistent.
After all, your child feels comforted by this bad habit so it is harder to quit.
Keep trying to get rid of the habit before they grow all of their permanent teeth.
Swallowing the Toothpaste
Flouride is as important for kids’ teeth as much as it is for adult teeth.
Thus if your drinking water does not have fluoride, your dentist may recommend fluoride supplements even to your 6-month-old child.
Thus parents buy fluoride toothpaste to keep their child’s teeth from getting cavities.
While you mean good, this can prove to be worse for their teeth if they do not have their swallowing reflexes yet.
Hence, they may end up swallowing the toothpaste.
Swallowing fluoride can cause white, yellow or brown spots to appear on their teeth.
This is dental fluorosis which puts children under the age of 8 at risk.
If your child is too young to spit, then it is best to not give them fluoride toothpaste.
You can make do with fluoride supplements instead.
On the other hand, giving them toothpaste that is not of the flavor they like can help too.
Maybe your child swallows the toothpaste because they like its flavor.
They will spit it when it is not up to their liking.
Teach them about spitting from the first time they learn about brushing teeth.
Nail-biting may result from loneliness and anxiety in children.
While there is a need to address the reason behind it, you should also prevent your child from continuing it.
It definitely harms their nails, but what’s worse, it affects their oral health too.
Biting their nails can slowly lead to toddlers’ teeth grinding.
They will develop the habit of biting and grinding which they will reciprocate in sleep.
This unhealthy habit causes disruption in sleep, facial pain, flatter central incisors and headache.
Alongside it will increase tooth sensitivity and deteriorate the enamel.
Your little one is too small to bear all this.
Hence, explain to your child how this habit is detrimental to their health.
Also, cover their fingers and thumb so they would avoid biting.
Give them rewards when they try to stop it plus look for alternatives by keeping their hands engaged.
When your little one goes to school, they can learn a few bad habits from their peers.
One of these is chewing and gnawing on their pencils.
This can be a temporary phase and children get over this unhealthy habit when they are old enough to understand its dangers, which include:
- an outlet for getting bacteria inside your mouth
- oral trauma if a child falls with a pencil in mouth
- deteriorated tooth surfaces and enamel
Thus if one day you see a pencil in their mouth, it is time to stop them from doing something so dangerous.
Also, let them know that it looks bad as it may persuade them to discontinue the habit.
Other Unhealthy Oral Habits
Eating Lots of Sugary Food
This is on the parents as well as on the children.
Children usually have a sweet tooth.
Though sweets are not good for their teeth or anyone else’s.
A primary tooth is more sensitive to sugary foods and drinks.
Thus, you should not give them enough soft drinks, candies and chocolates.
Also, it is better to avoid sticky gummies and chewy toffees as they stick to teeth for a long time.
When your children get older they may continue this habit and insist on getting drinks and sweets even if you want them to consume less.
Hence, do not give them a large amount, to begin with.
Rather regulate their snacks and drinks.
Thus you should allow your children to only eat a handful of snacks and give them healthy meals instead.
Giving Children Pacifiers
Pacifiers are not ideal when your child’s teeth are growing.
Their jaw and tooth development are not normal if they keep sucking on a pacifier.
Essentially it is harmless, similar to thumb sucking and a natural phase.
However, once this phase is over, this habit should die down too.
It becomes a stubborn habit that is quite difficult to break, especially when your child is a toddler.
Hence, it is best to stop using it before your child turns one and there are not enough primary teeth.
Skipping Dental Visits
You should take your child to the dentist six months after their first tooth erupts.
This is usually around their first birthday.
Your dentist will look for signs of cavity and decay and also guide you about maintaining the oral hygiene of your child.
This will help you to take better oral care and teach your child.
After that, keep visiting the dentist regularly every 6 months for regular checkups.
How to Get Rid of These Bad Habits?
As children are growing up, they will adopt many bad habits.
Some of these habits are facilitated by parents while others children start on their own.
Such as if you do not give them many sweets then they will probably stay away from sugary food.
So if you give in to their requests and give sweets to them as treats then children are bound to eat them more often.
Thus, parents need to have a strong stance from the very beginning.
Parents make mistakes too.
Now you know that feeding your child breast milk in the middle of the night or giving them sippy cups and bottles is not good for their oral health.
So refrain from giving it to them and clean their teeth and gums so sugars do not accumulate there.
Also, go to your dentist regularly as they can best instruct you about caring for your kids’ teeth and prevent tooth decay.
Developing this habit of visiting a dentist can be beneficial as they can also look for other problems in grown-up kids, such as when part of the tooth falls due to injury and wisdom teeth pain.
It is hard to let go of any habit when it develops but persist!
Even if your child wants to eat excess sweets or suck their thumb, you should always stop them.
This is how they will learn about them being unhealthy habits in the first place!
If your child has any of the habits, start stopping them from today!