Dental health is an important part of overall health. After all, everything we need and drink to fuel our bodies comes through the mouth!
By instilling good habits early on, you as parents can set the foundation for a lifetime of bright, healthy smiles. Unfortunately, there’s also bad habits that can have a big impact on dental health, especially for children who are still developing their oral hygiene routines.
Here’s the 5 worst habits for kids’ dental health.
Many parents may be familiar with this one! If you’ve been catching your child nibbling away or their nails, it affects more than just the appearance of their nails.
Fingernails and toenails are made of hardened keratin. When your child chews and bites off their nails, they’re forcing their teeth to bite through a hardened substance, causing unnecessary wear and tear to their enamel. Over time this can lead to chips and cracks in their teeth.
Also take into account that your child’s dentofacial structures are growing and developing along with the rest of their body. By biting their nails, they’re also encouraging tooth movement which can lead to gaps and malocclusions.
How to discourage nail-biting:
First and foremost, parents need to discover what’s triggering their nail-biting habit. Many children can be stressed, anxious, or just plain bored. Once the trigger behind the behavior is found, you can teach them breathing techniques, exercises, or offer them a stress ball or fidget toy. If these methods don’t work for your child, talk to your child’s pediatrician for more guidance.
Much like nail-biting habits, thumb-sucking can lead to problems with your child’s teeth, including – gapped teeth, overjet, or protruding teeth. And the reason behind their thumb-sucking habit is similar as well.
Babies have natural rooting and sucking reflexes that follow them into toddlerhood. And just like babies sometimes nurse for comfort, your child is keeping themselves calm by sucking their thumb. This habit doesn’t pose a threat to your child’s oral health until after age 4 as their permanent teeth will soon begin emerging.
You can find ways to discourage thumb-sucking at this age in this blog here.
3. Not brushing and flossing every day
The most obvious and most important habit that can harm dental health is not brushing or flossing regularly! Having a strong oral hygiene routine in place for your child is critical for removing food particles and plaque (which keeps their teeth clean and healthy!)
Children who skip brushing and flossing are more likely to have cavities and are at a risk of developing gum disease, which can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss.
If you need tips on best tooth brushing techniques or advice on how to encourage your child to floss, we’ve got you covered! Feel free to explore our “#DentalHealth” tab on our blog or check out our Dental Health page for more pro dental tips.
4. High-sugar diet
Sugary foods and drinks can be a serious threat to your kid’s dental health, especially when they eat or drink them frequently!
Sugar feeds the bacteria in the mouth that produce acid, which can erode tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Children who consume sugary foods and drinks regularly are at a higher risk of tooth decay and other dental problems. It’s important to limit sugary treats and encourage healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables for your child.
5. Not keeping regular dental checkups
Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining your child’s healthy smile! Unfortunately, many children avoid them. This habit can be harmful as it prevents our pediatric dentists from detecting and treating dental problems early on which can make a world of difference in your child’s comfort level and their smile.
Children who avoid dental check-ups are at a higher risk of developing cavities, gum disease, and other oral conditions.
Kids Smiles is dedicated to helping your child feel welcome and comfortable at every visit. As parents, you’re part of your child’s dental healthcare team as well, so we encourage you to help them keep their regular dental check-ups too.
Still have questions about bad habits for kids’ teeth?
These habits can have a huge impact on your child’s dental health! If you need more advice or resources to help discourage these harmful habits, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time.
Dr. Sierra, Dr. Kwon, Dr. Patel and our team are here to help guide you and your child. We offer kinder, gentler dentistry for kids and teens. It is our goal that your child develops and maintains a positive association with dental care and we do everything we can to create a pleasant, supportive, and fun environment for our little patients. By instilling healthy habits early on, you can help your children maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime!