Most parents are aware that establishing good oral health habits early on is crucial to promoting a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums for their children. They encourage their kids to brush twice a day and make sure to schedule their dental check-ups twice a year. What most parents don’t realize, however, is that some things they’re doing—or neglecting to do—at home can have a detrimental impact on their children’s teeth. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that over 40 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in their baby teeth. Could you be inadvertently making mistakes that are negatively impacting your child’s oral health?
Common Dental Mistakes
Sometimes, mistakes parents make concerning their children’s oral health is obvious. Maybe they are lenient on soda drinking or think brushing once a day is sufficient. Often, however, the mistakes parents make when it comes to their children’s dental health are less blatant; in fact, many parents don’t even realize they’re making these mistakes! Consider the following common blunders:
- Solo brushing. Many parents allow their children to brush their teeth alone. Typically, this happens as a time-saving measure in hectic households or is the result of a desire to instill a sense of independence in children. However, solo brushing is problematic in young children for one important reason: children under 8 years old simply lack the necessary motor skills to effectively clean their teeth. Thus, it’s important for parents to help out to ensure that every tooth is thoroughly cleaned.
- Hydrating with sports drinks. Most parents are aware that sugary sodas and good oral health don’t go hand-in-hand. Likewise, many parents avoid allowing their children to overindulge in fruit juices, which are also loaded with sugar. What they’re often less aware of, however, is the detrimental effect that sports drinks can have on children’s mouths. Since many children are involved in extracurricular sporting activities, it’s common for parents to toss a sports drink into their child’s backpack without a second thought. But sports drinks are highly acidic, which can lead to tooth decay. Simply put: following sporting activities, children should hydrate with water.
- Not starting dentist visits early enough. Parents often start taking their children to the dentist later than the recommended start time of one year old, or when the first tooth erupts. The problem with getting a late start to dental check-ups is that issues can go undetected for many years, giving them the chance to progress into more serious oral health concerns. Of course, serious oral health problems—such as large cavities or advanced gum disease—require more extensive treatment. Additionally, when children start visiting the dentist early, they are less likely to be fearful and more likely to continue good oral health habits into adulthood.
- Not understanding mouth-healthy foods. A very common mistake parents make when it comes to their children’s oral health is not having a good understanding of what foods are likely to promote decay. In fact, some foods that are good for the body—think raisins and bananas—are not so good for the teeth. Raisins, for example, are sticky—which means that they can get stuck in the grooves of the teeth, creating a prime opportunity for cavities to develop. Of course, this doesn’t mean that raisins and bananas need to be banned from children’s diets entirely; instead, children should be encouraged to brush their teeth following meals that include foods that are potentially cavity promoting.
Remember: parents are instrumental in setting the stage for a lifetime of good oral health for their children. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to help protect your child’s smile, contact us today.