Most parents agree that parenting is a never-ending commitment to promoting the health of their little ones (and big ones), along with fostering skills that will last a lifetime. In essence, this begins before children are born, with regular screenings, checkups and a balanced diet. In the same way, a child’s dental health is set into motion before their first tooth erupts, as reported by Everyday Health. While this means emphasizing the importance of oral and dental health early, it also includes becoming familiar with the not so great habits that could be affecting your child’s teeth. Here are some harmful habits you should know about:
- Do not wait until there’s a problem before taking your child to the dentist. As a rule, it’s best to schedule your child’s first dental appointment by their first birthday, or within six months after their first tooth appears. This is an important opportunity to children and dentists to develop a trusting relationship before there’s actually a problem to fix.
- Be mindful during “middle of the night” feedings. While nightly feedings are a natural part of mothering, particularly in the first few months of a baby’s life, it’s important to be mindful of these feedings if your child’s first tooth has already appeared. This is because of the high percentage of natural sugars that can cause early decay when left on teeth and gums at night. Dentists recommend wiping off the excess milk following every nightly feeding to avoid early decay.
- If your child is ready for fluoride toothpaste, make sure he/she does not swallow it! Without question, there is a certain pride in being able to brush your own teeth. Thus, while you are celebrating your child’s newfound freedom, be sure to explain the importance of spitting out excess toothpaste. While fluoride is essential for cavity fighting, swallowing it can lead to fluorosis, where brown and white spots appear on teeth.
- Put pencil to paper—not the mouth! While it’s common for school-aged children to put pencils and other objects in their mouth, gnawing on such things can wear away tooth enamel.
- Choose water over sugary sodas. For adults that are hooked on carbonated drinks, many understand that such a habit begins early. Thus, while your child is young, it’s important to encourage him/her to choose water over sugary sodas whenever possible.
Dr. Leia Porcaro leads a comprehensive dental practice in Marietta, Georgia, and is a trusted children’s dentist in the metro Atlanta area. With care and compassion, Dr. Porcaro enjoys coming alongside families to provide preventative care that will encourage optimal oral health for every member of their family. To schedule an appointment, call Grateful Dental today.