As parents, no matter how diligent we are with our children’s brushing, flossing and dental visits, sometimes children may exhibit certain habitual behavior patterns or food choices that may ultimately be harmful to their teeth. It is important to be on the lookout for these habits and work with your child as early as possible to change them. This will not only save their pearly whites, but will prevent more serious dental conditions in the future.
Park View’s Point of View
At Park View Pediatric Dentistry, we always place importance on dental education, not only for our young patients, but their parents, as well. In addition to guiding everyday oral health care and diet, we offer assistance in recognizing poor habits that may lead to undesirable oral health conditions. Take a look at our “Smile Saver” list below and use as a checklist to make sure that your child is not engaging in any behavioral patterns that could potentially damage their teeth.
Here is our “Smile Saving” Check List:
Habit # 1 – Prolonged Thumb or Finger Sucking
If your child is frequently thumb sucking at age four, or the thumb sucking is causing dental problems or embarrassment, talk to your child about breaking the habit. Prolonged sucking can alter the development of the jaw and affect the way the top and bottom teeth come together. If your child’s bite is altered from constant finger sucking, simply stopping the habit may result in the teeth self-correcting. There are also many techniques to help break this habit from special shirts to positive reinforcement treats. We even make a special retainer when all else fails.
Habit # 2 – Using the Teeth as a Tool
This habit can turn any fun outing or holiday into a dental emergency. We have seen countless cases of broken teeth from children trying to open bottles with the teeth. The human bottle opener behavior should be discouraged immediately and the consequences spoken about. Offering safe bottle opening, or ribbon cutting alternatives should also be offered.
Habit # 3 – Hard or Over Brushing the Teeth
Yes, children should brush their teeth two times a day for two minutes, but vigorous brushing can hurt the teeth and lead to gum recession. If you think that your child is an over zealous brusher, it is wise to switch to a softer bristle toothbrush and monitor their tooth brushing sessions.
Habit # 4 – Grinding the Teeth
Although more common in adults, children also can grind or clench their teeth at night. This could not only wear tooth enamel, but can lead to tooth fractures and pain in the jaw. Wearing a night guard or appliance, made by your child’s pediatric dentist, can help break this habitual pattern and prevent further damage.
Habit # 5 – Playing Sports Without a Mouth Guard
From skating and skiing to team sports, we cannot stress the use of a mouth guard enough. This simple and inexpensive device is a valuable smile saver for an active child and a positive habit that should be incorporated into their activities.
Habit # 6 – Consuming Acidic Foods or Drinks
While we know to place importance on limiting our children’s sugar intake, acidic foods or drinks can be just as damaging to the tooth enamel. Even sugar-free sodas are very acidic and have been proven to cause as much tooth enamel damage as those with sugar. As sour as they are, some children may like to bite into lemons or limes. This habit can be very erosive to the tooth enamel and should be discouraged.
If you have questions or concerns about any of the above habits, feel free to contact us.