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Bad Habits for Kids' Teeth

By March 31, 2022 - 4:40am

Before their first baby tooth emerges, a child's dental health is put in motion. That means you should start encouraging your child's healthy oral practices from the beginning — and continue encouraging them until they graduate from high school (or, hey, even longer).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 19 percent of children aged 2 to 19 have cavities that have not been addressed. Childhood teeth decay, on the other hand, can be avoided in the first place if parents help their children avoid harmful oral habits (and foster good ones). Oral and dental habits, good and harmful, are formed at a young age.

Avoid these dental-health no-nos to give your kids' teeth a healthy start.

Neglecting the Dentist
According to the American Dental Association, children should see a dentist between six months after the appearance of their first tooth and no later than their first birthday. During that initial appointment, your baby's dentist will check for cavities and other oral disorders, assess the risk of tooth decay, and teach you how to clean your baby's teeth properly.

Following the initial consultation, your child should have regular check-ups every six months at the very least. Their dentist may suggest more regular checkups if they have a higher risk of tooth decay.

Middle-of-the-Night Breastfeeding
When you're breastfeeding a baby, round-the-clock feedings aren't just acceptable; they're essential for the infant's health. However, as your baby's teeth start to appear, you may wish to postpone feedings during the middle of the night.

Lactose, the primary sugar in breast milk, accounts for around 40% of a breastfed baby's calories. Because of the sugar in breast milk, baby teeth might become eroded if exposed to it too much at night. When infant's teeth grow in, mothers who continue to breastfeed must be willing to clean their baby's mouth after each meal. In fact, it is advised to wash or wipe away any milk remaining in the baby's mouth after each feeding.

Sucking a Baby Bottle at Night
Pitting and darkening of the teeth, dubbed "bottle mouth" by some clinicians, can occur as a result of overnight bottle-feeding. Sugar from milk or drink will stay on the teeth for a long time at night if the mouth isn't cleansed, eventually eating away at the enamel. So think twice before lulling a baby to sleep with a milk bottle or any other sugary liquid.

Sippin' On Sippy Cups All Day
Once your child has graduated to a sippy cup, don't let them carry it about all day or take it to bed with them at night (for the same reasons that using a bottle this way is unhealthy). Sipping milk, juice, or any other sweetened drink all of the time prevents a child's natural saliva from rinsing away sugars that cause tooth disease. In fact, the New York legislature recently approved the addition of tooth decay warnings to sippy cups.

Limit sippy cups to meal and snack times for optimum dental health, and have your child swish and swallow any sugary drink with water afterward.

Swallowing Toothpaste
Fluoride, a natural cavity fighter, is beneficial to your children's teeth. In fact, dentists may recommend fluoride supplements as early as six months old in towns with insufficient fluoride in the water supply (this may be checked by contacting the local health department).

However, too much fluoride can induce fluorosis, a disorder in which children's teeth develop white or brown patches. While it's exciting to play with sticky toothpaste, it's critical to teach your children not to swallow it, especially if it includes fluoride.

You can use non-fluoride toothpaste formulated specifically for children's teeth until your youngster is old enough to spit after brushing. Simply use a fluoride supplement to ensure they're getting the correct quantity of fluoride.

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