You want your little ones to be as healthy as possible and good dental habits can help keep them that way. Even if you’re having them brush twice a day and avoiding too much candy, they still may be developing some habits that can be harmful to their teeth. Here a few of the common bad habits to avoid when it comes to kids and their teeth:
Allowing your baby to have a bottle in bed might help them to fall asleep, but it’s one of the worst things you can do for their teeth. Milk pools in their mouth and stays there all night, letting its natural sugars wear away at your baby’s tooth enamel. The resulting “bottle rot” is a common problem for babies who sleep with their bottle. Even breast feeding in the middle of the night can cause the same problems once teeth start coming in. If your baby is still nursing when their teeth begin to come in, try to cut out their middle of the night feeding,or be prepared to rinse out their mouth with water once they’re finished.
Lots of little guys enjoy toting their sippy cup of juice around all day, grazing as they play. The problem with this habit is that it keeps their teeth constantly exposed to sugar and acids, which can damage the teeth. Reserve sugary drinks (including natural fruit juice) for meal and snack times. If your kids want to carry their sippies around in between, fill them with water.
Every parent is familiar with the phrase, “I’ll do it myself!” or some version of it from their young children. This is a great attitude in developing self-confidence, but a little guidance is still necessary during tooth brushing. Swallowing too much toothpaste can lead to fluorosis, which is bad for your child’s teeth and their body. Make sure they only use a pea sized amount of toothpaste and encourage them to spit and rinse thoroughly every time they brush.
Pacifiers and Thumbs
Sucking on a pacifier or thumb for comfort is perfectly natural for babies and toddlers, but it can cause damage to the teeth and jaws if they continue to do this once their big kid teeth start to come in. Try to break your baby of their pacifier habit at around one year of age to avoid a struggle later on. If they haven’t naturally quit thumb-sucking by age four, talk to your pediatric dentist about some ideas to get them to stop.
Enforcing good dental habits early on will help your kids have healthy teeth for the rest of their life. It’s easier for little kids to break bad habits and establish good ones than it is for adults, so get started now. Take them in to see the dentist regularly so any problems can be discovered and corrected early.