Caring for your child’s smile and oral health is important. But there’s a chance some of your daily practices could be causing more harm than good. Unfortunately, most parents don’t realize what mistakes they’re making for their child’s teeth before it’s too late. To prevent some of these problems we’ve come up with a list of the common mistakes that every pediatric dentist and hygienist want you to know:
Putting Baby to Bed with a Bottle or Sippy Cup
When your infant or toddler falls asleep with milk or juice in their mouth, the natural sugars feed oral bacteria and produce acid by-products. It puts your child at risk for serious tooth decay within a matter of months (just Google “baby bottle tooth decay.”)
Giving Your Child Juice
It seems like a healthy beverage, but juices contain loads of natural and/or artificial sweeteners. Coating your child’s teeth in this syrupy liquid day after day will drastically raise their risk of cavities.
Letting Your Child Keep Their Pacifier
Pacifiers need to go bye-bye by the time your child is no older than two – if your child is older than two and still using a pacifier it might be a good time to speak to your family doctor or dentist to get the best advice on whether pacifier use should be discontinued or not. Otherwise with prolonged use without medical advice, the sucking patterns could potentially alter the bone growth and facial anatomy of your child’s profile and jaws. As a result, children may develop speech challenges and “open bites”, which is where their front teeth don’t close together properly. It can also lead to big orthodontic bills later on.
Taking Too Long to Graduate to a “Big Kid” Cup
Your child’s mouth needs to learn the motor function of how to drink out of a regular cup — mess or not — because using a sippy cup for too long can have some of the same effects as prolonged pacifier use or thumb sucking.
Waiting Until There’s a Problem to See the Dentist
Most dental problems are reversible or easy to correct when diagnosed early. Pediatric dentists and pediatricians recommend that every child have their first dental check-up by the time their first tooth comes in or when they turn one (whichever comes first.) Waiting until your child complains of a toothache will usually mean there’s a bigger issue at hand. Not to mention, it makes your child associate the dentist’s office with pain. It’s better to be proactive and make dental checkups a fun experience from the get-go!
Not Getting That Little Cavity Filled (Even Though it’s in a Baby Tooth)
Baby teeth are meant to fall out. But that means a lot of parents unknowingly assume that it’s ok to let a small cavity go untreated. Here’s the reality: cavities in baby teeth spread like wildfire. That decay can affect the underlying adult tooth or require an extraction which ultimately affects tooth alignment and future orthodontic needs. It’s much better to keep the tooth healthy by getting a small, comfortable filling as soon as a cavity is diagnosed.
Even if you’ve made some of these common mistakes, it’s ok. You’re not the only one! The most important thing to do is find a great pediatric or family dentist in your area to help you get your child’s oral health back on track.
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