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4 Habits That Can Harm Your Kids’ Teeth

Mother with her child standing in community garden

Your little one’s teeth probably light up your world every time you see your son or daughter smile. However, some of the habits you let your child partake in can harm their smile. Sometimes, the damage is enough to interfere with your kid’s ability to chew normally. Learn more about these four habits that can harm kids’ teeth.

1. Breastfeeding at Night

While you have to feed your baby at night when they are young, once teeth pop in, breastfeeding at night can cause decay.

Breast milk contains a lot of sugar. The sugar, although natural, remains on your child’s teeth. Even though sugar doesn’t actually damage your child’s tooth enamel, it can feed bacteria in your child’s mouth. These bacteria produce lactic acid, which is a substance that eats away at your kid’s enamel. With repeated exposure to lactic acid, your little one’s teeth can develop cavities.

Keep in mind that breast milk is healthy for your child, even once they develops teeth. However, a routine, middle-of-the-night feeding can lead to cavities. Combat this with regular tooth brushing before bed with a soft baby toothbrush.

2. Offering Drinks Before Bed

Your child may fall instantly asleep with a sippy cup or a bottle, whether you choose to give him or her milk or juice. Any drink that has sugar, even naturally occuring, in it can linger on your child’s teeth and feed the bacteria that produce lactic acid.

You may think your child’s primary teeth will fall out anyway, so decay isn’t an issue. It is, though. Damage to your little one’s baby teeth can affect their ability to smile, speak, and chew normally. Furthermore, your son or daughter’s first set of teeth act as a placeholder for their adult teeth. When the baby teeth are lost too soon, problems with the secondary teeth may arise. For instance, the following could occur:

  • Speech problems
  • Damaged adult teeth
  • Poor eating habits
  • Crooked teeth

If you choose to give your tot a bottle or sippy cup before bed, fill it with plain water. You may also choose a routine that includes snuggles and a story, or you could rock him or her to sleep.

Moreover, always make sure you brush your child’s teeth after they consume their last food or beverage.

3. Swallowing Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens your child’s teeth. Too much fluoride can harm your little one’s teeth. Additionally, your kid shouldn’t have fluoride until they are three years of age. At this point, your child can spit out the fluoride.

Once your child begins using a toothpaste with fluoride, you need to encourage him to spit after brushing and rinse their mouth out after brushing. You should also educate your child about the importance of not consuming toothpaste.

If your child should happen to consume toothpaste, in particular on a regular basis, they may develop a condition known as fluorosis. This issue is cosmetic and causes discoloration or possibly pitting in your child’s teeth. The staining is permanent and may appear in one of the following ways:

  • White spots or streak
  • Brown spots
  • Black spots
  • Gray spots

Teach your child to never swallow toothpaste to avoid this.

4. Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Usage Beyond Age Two

Thumb sucking and pacifier usage are common in infants and toddlers. These habits help them self-soothe. However, as your child reaches the age of two, you may want to break the habit. Thumb sucking and pacifier usage after the age of two could increase your child’s risk for bite problems, such as a crossbite or protruding front teeth.

Whether you bottle or breastfeed, you may want to consider giving your child water before bed to prevent tooth decay. You also want to ensure your child is spitting out all toothpaste. Additionally, you should wean your child from thumb sucking or pacifier usage after age two. By following these few tips, you can keep your child’s teeth healthy for years to come.

Contact Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates, serving South Jordan, UT, and the nearby region, for a dental appointment for your child and more helpful tips on how to care for their teeth.