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Sneaky Ways Kids Can Be Hurting Their Teeth

Family Dentistry Alma, MI Dentist | Mid-MIchigan Dental Excellence

As a parent, you work so hard to keep your children safe and healthy. You read up on child development, check the ingredients of foods, and make sure they get plenty of exercise. No doubt that you do the same with your child’s teeth. Even at an early age, you can teach good dental habits like brushing with practice toothpaste. After all, family dentistry starts in your home.

However, it’s not always that easy. There are many ways your children could be hurting their teeth and creating problems that could last a long time. Here are some sneaky ways that kids end up hurting their teeth — and ways parents hurt more than help.

  • Continuing to suck on thumbs or pacifiers after adult teeth start coming in. Thumb sucking and using a pacifier are natural for young children. It’s a reflex that helps them feel safer and more secure. In other words, don’t worry about it when your child still has their baby teeth. But if this sucking continues, it could lead to problems. Sucking on something won’t hurt the teeth directly, but it can create bite problems such as an overbite. It can also force the teeth out of their proper alignment, requiring orthodontics. When the baby teeth are still there, it’s fine — they’re going to fall out anyway. But when the adult teeth are coming in, pacifier and thumb sucking need to stop.
  • Drinking too much juice. Few people would willingly give a bottle or sippy cup full of soda to a child. All of that sugar? It would help cause cavities. But what some people don’t realize is that juice can have as much sugar as soda. Many juices are artificially sweetened with corn syrup or fructose just like sodas. Even all-natural juices (or even juices made at home) still have a lot of sugar. That’s what makes them taste so good. Fruit juice has lots of vitamins, but be careful how much you let your child drink. That much sugar can coat teeth and lead to tooth decay.
  • Causing baby bottle tooth decay: Along the same lines, some people think that toddlers cannot get tooth decay if they are still bottle-fed. After all, they aren’t eating solid food, so how can food get stuck on the teeth and cause cavities? Food is not the only problem. What your child drinks can also help cause tooth decay. Juices, formula, and milk all contain sugars that can feed the harmful bacteria behind cavities. That means letting your child drink formula before bed is like letting them eat before bed without brushing afterward. If you don’t clean the teeth, cavities can happen.
  • Swallowing by tongue thrusting. We swallow by forming a tight seal with our lips. Otherwise, we would swallow too much air. But some children use their tongue instead. Putting your tongue between your front teeth to swallow is called tongue thrusting. This puts pressure on the front teeth, which can lead to overbites and misaligned teeth.
  • Taking medicine with hidden sugar. Children are notorious for being picky, especially when it comes to medicine that tastes bad, like cough syrup or liquid medication. To help with this, many medicines come with a ton of sugar. Kids love sweets, so they’ll love medicine with added sugar! While this can make it easier to help your child take needed medicine, it can coat the teeth in sugar just like soda or juice can, leading to tooth decay.
  • Watching you neglect your dental health. Kids are very observant. They watch adults constantly to know what they can and cannot do. This isn’t some magic technique — you won’t get your kids to suddenly love vegetables by watching you eat some — but they will tend to copy what you do. If they hear you tell them to brush and floss but you don’t do those yourself, they are much more likely to skip both just like you.
  • Not drinking enough tap water. There are a lot of drinks on the market, some especially marketed for kids. Juice boxes, bottled water with vitamins, sport drinks, and more are everywhere. But there’s a lot to be said for plain old tap water. It has no sugar or carbohydrates, so it doesn’t contribute to tooth decay. Our tap water has fluoride added to it. This substance penetrates the teeth and can even repair tiny damage to the enamel. Because kids are still growing, fluoride is especially helpful for their teeth. Skipping on tap water means skipping on fluoride as well.

You want the best for your child. If you think your child is having any of these problems, call us today at 989-796-4848 for an appointment at our Alma, MI dental office. Our staff knows how to treat kids with warmth and kindness, and we have several family dental treatments that can help your child’s teeth now.

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