September 11, 2016
You’re an aware parent. You read for recall notices, you know to check nutritional labels, and you’re willing to nag your kids until they’re safe. That’s part of the job description for parents and guardians. However, kids always seem to find a way to get hurt. (That might be in their job description.) When it comes to pediatric dentistry, there are some ways kids hurt their teeth without most parents knowing it. Here are several of the most common.
– Baby bottle tooth decay: Cavities are caused by harmful bacteria. They live off food and drink residue left behind in your mouth after you eat and drink. That’s why you should eat or drink at night after you’ve brushed your teeth; you’re just putting back food particles that you brushed out. All of this can happen at any age and with any food. If you have teeth and eat, you can get cavities.
With young children, you have to watch out for “baby bottle tooth decay.” This is when your child takes formula through a bottle or even juice through a sippy cup. Using a bottle or sippy cup just before bed leaves food particles on your child’s teeth and gums throughout the night. No matter what age your child is, they need their teeth cleaned regularly just like adults. At our Norton Shores, MI dental office, you can get nutritional counseling to help avoid baby-bottle decay.
– Tongue thrusting: It’s really hard to swallow without closing your mouth. If you try, you’ll probably notice that you use your tongue to “close” your mouth and swallow more easily. Making a seal to swallow is normal. However, some children fall into the habit of tongue thrusting. This is when you push your tongue up against your teeth to make that seal and swallow.
The problem with tongue thrusting is how it can push your teeth out of alignment. It won’t do much at first, but a couple of years’ worth of tongue thrusting can move your teeth and change your bite. If this happens long enough, your child will need orthodontic care sooner or later.
– Drinking too much fruit juice or diet soda: Cavities pop up again. That’s because they are the most common dental problem in the US. You know that sugar can hurt your teeth. That’s because the bacteria which cause cavities thrives on sugar. You wouldn’t give a can of sugary pop to a young child because of that.
However, fruit juices often have almost as much sugar as pop. Drinking a large bottle of orange juice means coating the teeth and gums in sugar. Diet soda has no sugar, thankfully — but it does have a lot of acid. All pop (regular or diet) has enough acidity to corrode your gums. All of this can lead to weak enamel and cavities. You might need dental fillings or dental crowns to repair the damage.
– Medicine with sugary flavoring: Along the same lines as baby bottle tooth decay, be careful about children’s medicine. Kids hate taking cough syrup and liquid medicines. It tastes awful. To make up for that, many companies put a lot of candy-like flavors in the medicine. Of course, that comes with a lot of sugar.
If your child has to take something like cherry-flavored cough syrup, look for diabetic-friendly versions with little to no sugar. If none are available, give your child some water after taking the medicine. This can help wash away the sugar coating their teeth.
– Dehydration: In fact, drinking lots of water is a great family dentistry tip. Our bodies use saliva to help wash away some of those food particles that lead to cavities. When we are dehydrated, our mouths tend to dry up. That means harmful bacteria can have more food to eat., which can lead to cavities and even gum disease.
Children quickly lose track of time when they’re playing. They’re also not the best at watching how much water they drink. Keep an eye on your kids and make sure they drink plenty of water. Since pop and fruit juice can hurt your teeth, going with water or milk helps solve that problem too.
– Using pacifiers after the adult teeth have arrived: Almost every child sucks on a pacifier or thumb when they’re very young. It’s soothing and completely natural. But it can put pressure on their teeth. Over the years, it can move their teeth out of alignment. When your child only has baby teeth, there’s not much concern. All of those teeth are supposed to fall out anyway.
The problem is when your child is getting their permanent teeth. Children who continue using pacifiers or thumb-sucking after those teeth start to come in will likely affect how they come in. These teeth can easily come in crooked or misaligned. Again, that means orthodontic treatment in the near future.
At our Norton Shores, MI family dentistry office, our team knows how to work with children. Call us today at 231-366-4182 to schedule an appointment for your kids. Because we’re a true family dental office, you can schedule an appointment for yourself as well.