Habits That are Bad for Your Child’s Teeth

bad habits that can harm your child's teeth
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While raising a child is already a challenge, there are a few habits that might form during adolescence that can actually harm your child’s teeth. The key to setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth, breaking these habits early on is your best plan of attack. Our pediatric dentist in Florham Park at A Healthy Smile Dentistry is here to educate parents about the habits that are bad for your child’s teeth so that you help your child develop a healthy smile. Discover if your child has any of these bad habits below. If so, make sure you break them as soon as possible!

Not Visiting the Dentist Regularly

One of the top habits that are bad for your child’s teeth is not visiting the dentist regularly. This habit, however, falls on the parents or guardians of the child. It is up to the parents to make their child’s dental appointments and take them every 6 months. If you have been slacking on this yourself, don’t feel bad; just make an effort to stop this bad habit in its tracks. When your child visits a dentist like our pediatric dentist in Florham Park every 6 months, they are being examined for potential dental problems while also receiving preventive care like dental cleanings and fluoride that can prevent them from having problems in the future.

These appointments are crucial for establishing a healthy smile for life, in addition to helping your child form the habit of visiting the dentist regularly themselves. If your child gets into the habit of seeing the dentist when they’re young, they will carry this with them into adulthood. If your child is overdue for a dental appointment, schedule one with us today!

Middle of the Night Breastfeeding

While it’s more than okay to feed your newborn baby around the clock, once your child’s teeth begin to grow in, you might want to double the middle of the night feedings. This is because breast milk contains lactose which is the sugar that’s found in milk. This sugar makes up 40% of your baby’s calories. If your baby’s teeth are overexposed to the milk without being cleaned afterward, this leaves them susceptible to decay and cavities. It’s important to always wash off your baby’s mouth after feeding them. In addition, it’s also important to wash out their mouth to clear away the sugar. Giving your baby water to drink is an easy way to remove the sugar from their mouth to prevent cavities.

Sucking on a Bottle at Night

On the topic of feedings at night, giving your baby a bottle of milk or juice to drink before bed is not a wise idea unless you plan on cleaning your baby’s teeth before they go to sleep. Otherwise, the sugar will remain on their teeth while they sleep and leave them even more at risk for tooth decay and cavities.

Drinking from a Sippy Cup All Day

It’s exciting when your baby graduates to using a sippy cup! While this is exciting, don’t get too attached to the idea. It’s a good idea to not let your baby make the habit of carrying around their sippy cup with them all day unless it’s filled with water. If your baby has unlimited access to juice or milk all day, the sugar will sit on their teeth and cause tooth decay. For best results, only serve milk or juice with meals and then water to rinse out their mouth and sip on the rest of the time. In addition, sippy cups should only be used as a transition to using a normal cup. With long-term use, this can change your child’s tooth alignment. Using sippy cups for a few weeks and then introducing regular cups or even cups with straws will give your child’s teeth the best results!

Swallowing Toothpaste

While fluoride is great for fighting cavities, it’s not good to be ingested. While it’s safe to drink water with small amounts of fluoride in it (this is found in most tap water), too much fluoride can cause fluorosis. This causes white and brown spots on the teeth. Teach your kids to spit out their toothpaste to be safe. Start out by using a non-fluoride toothpaste and once you are sure they won’t swallow their toothpaste, switch to fluoride toothpaste.

Thumb Sucking

Like using a sippy cup for too long, thumb sucking can also cause alignment issues with children’s teeth. Our pediatric dentist regularly has to recommend braces and other orthodontic treatments for children who sucked their thumbs for far too long. Once your child’s teeth start growing in, this is when it becomes critical to breaking the thumb sucking habit. It can lead to misalignment and also problems with chewing.

Using Pacifiers Past Age 1

While giving your newborn a pacifier is a good way to keep them calm, using pacifiers past age 1 can lead to serious dental issues like tooth and jaw development. Try to start weaning your baby from using a pacifier as soon as possible, but most importantly before they turn one year old.

Chewing on Pencils and Nail Biting

Teeth are meant for chewing food and nothing else. If you find that your child chews on pencils or bites their nails, not only is this exposing them to LOTS of bacteria, but this is horrible for their teeth. It can lead to damaged teeth and bruxism (grinding or clenching teeth unintentionally).

Drinking Soda or Sugary Drinks

The last habit that is bad for your child’s teeth is drinking soda or sugary teeth. Not only does soda contain acid, but it also sugar that eats away at your child’s enamel. It’s okay to give your child soda or sugary drinks like juice and sports drinks every once in a while, it’s important to get them in the habit of rinsing their mouth with water afterward.

Schedule an Appointment with our Pediatric Dentist in Florham Park Today

Is your child overdue for a dentist appointment? Make an appointment at our Florham Park dental office by giving us a call or filling out our online form. Our pediatric dentist is here to help your child develop healthy dental habits for the rest of their life. We can also give you advice for stopping some of the bad habits discussed on this blog.

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