As a parent, your child’s well being is one of your top concerns. Of course, it is! You want your little one to grow up strong, healthy, and happy. One of the best ways to do that is to take care of their teeth. When you give your little one the care, attention, and skills needed for their teeth to develop correctly, you set them up for straight teeth and a healthy mouth well into their lives.
Like you, we care about setting your little one’s mouth up for success. Here are a few of our top recommendations for doing just that:
How to Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy
Healthy teeth are one of the essential pieces of your child’s overall health. In addition to cutting down on the risk of chronic diseases and bacterial infections, a healthy mouth inspires confidence and promotes normal development. Here are a few ways to keep your child’s teeth healthy from the get-go:
- Avoid leaving bottles in a baby’s crib, and given children fruit juices and sweet drinks sparingly
- Before your baby’s teeth erupt, rub the gums with your finger or a wet cloth after the baby eats or drinks. This will keep the gums clean and keep oral bacteria to a minimum.
- Take your baby to a pediatric dentist by this first birthday, or as soon as they cut their first tooth
- As soon as your little one’s first tooth erupts, start brushing the tooth and teaching the child healthy brushing habits
- Demonstrate healthy oral habits and routines in your daily life – lead by example as parents
- Limit sweet food, sticky food, and food that’s high in sugar. Offer healthy food options for your child and limit unhealthy choices
- Give your child plenty of books and education to help them learn about good oral health
Behaviors to Avoid for a Healthy Mouth
Knowledge and great habits are essential for good dental health. While other things, like genetics, also play a role, one of the biggest definers of your child’s dental health is behavior. Specific behavioral considerations can damage dental health and put your child at risk of future dental issues. With that in mind, be aware of the following behaviors in your child:
Pacifiers are often considered a lifesaver by parents. Used to calm a fussy baby, soothe a child who wants to suckle, or put a little one to sleep, pacifiers are a popular accessory for young kids. Despite that, however, the use of pacifiers is much-debated in the parenting world.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pacifier use is fine for kids, as long as it’s implemented correctly. When used excessively or for too long, pacifiers can damage a child’s dental development. If a child is still using a pacifier as his or her teeth begin to break through the surface, for example, the pacifier and the pressure of the suckling motion can press teeth out of position and cause a misalignment in the mouth.
Thumb sucking, pacifier sucking, can develop into a damaging habit if it goes on too long. While kids typically chew and suck on their fingers as they are teething, children who continue thumb-sucking behavior for too long risk misaligning their teeth and becoming dependent on the action.
Because of this, dentists recommend discontinuing thumb sucking by the time the child reaches the age of two. If the behavior persists past this point, teeth may come in crooked, or they may protrude from the front of the mouth.
Dental Problems Kids May Face
With or without potentially-damaging behavior, kids may face the following dental issues:
- Overcrowding. This is a common issue in both kids and adults alike. If your child has a small jaw, there might not be enough space for your baby’s adult teeth to come through. This can cause other teeth to move or shift to make room for adult teeth. Poor hygiene from overcrowding is another issue. Overcrowding can make it challenging to maintain a healthy mouth since it’s hard to clean all teeth adequately when they’re too close together.
- Dental Misalignment. Things like crossbites and overbites can cause teeth to come in crooked, leading to bite issues down the road.
- Airway Restriction. In some extreme cases, kids can even experience airway and breathing issues thanks to dental problems. Mouth breathing, for example, can be caused by jaws that are too narrow or deep.
- Crooked Teeth. Crooked teeth can lead to bite issues and confidence issues for kids. Adolescence is already hard enough for little ones, without struggling with these things.
How to Set Your Child up for Dental Success
The best thing you can do to ensure your children’s teeth develop correctly is to be attentive. The more attention you pay to your child’s dental development, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to spot potential dental issues and stop them before they become significant issues.
By brushing your child’s teeth, setting a good dental hygiene example, and taking your child to the dentist regularly, you can avoid most common dental issues. According to The American Association of Orthodontists, you should take your child for his or her first orthodontic check-up before he or she reaches the age of seven.
If you don’t have a family orthodontist, as your dentist for a recommendation. They likely have a professional in town they enjoy working with. The orthodontist will be able to evaluate your child’s jaw and tooth development and decide whether or not any intervention is required.
This orthodontic care, when combined with your child’s traditional dental care, will go a long way toward setting your child up for dental success and ensuring a lifetime of healthy teeth and mouths. Additionally, getting your child into the dentist early helps prevent dental phobias and ensure that your child will continue taking care of his or her teeth, long after you stop being in charge of it.
Ready to learn more or book your child’s first appointment? Contact our team today.