As soon as your little one’s first tooth grows through, it is admittedly an exciting stage of your child’s development. It is also a signal that this is the beginning of your parental responsibility in promoting and encouraging a continuous dental health regime. One that your children will adopt and continue with, once they’re all grown up and have flown the family nest.

Being a parent can be so busy and hectic that it’s not uncommon to forget the little day to day things that can, in time, have an effect on your child’s oral health and dental development. Below are six of the main activities that, if nipped in the bud quick, can give your children a great start in their dental health journey.

Chewing on One Side:

This may seem like a normal and inconsequential act but it can have an impact, not only on your teeth, but also on your child’s jaw. Children can be prone to having addictive personalities, and if your child has an obscure preference for chewing on one side of their mouth then try and nip this in the bud quickly!

The more your child uses one particular side more than the other, there are more chances of this action leading to an unbalanced development of the jaw. This will make one side weaker than the other. Furthermore, it can affect teeth alignment, increasing the chances of braces being needed later on, which is time, money and discomfort that can be avoided. When possible, encourage your child to eat evenly on both sides of their mouth.

Thumb and Finger Sucking:

Thumb and finger sucking is completely normal and comes with no serious effects while your child is still homing baby teeth. However, as soon as your child loses their baby teeth and grows their big boy/girl teeth they need to lose the habit.

Misalignment can be the result of the sucking. As well as cosmetic implications such as protruding front teeth, your child may also start to find chewing difficult. It is key to try and stop this bad habit as soon as they reach the age of four or five. Really, the sooner the better.

Biting Nails, Lips and Objects:

It is only natural for your child to gravitate towards putting almost anything in their mouths, from the day they are born up until they go to school. Whether it’s your adorable new-born grabbing anything it can get hold of, or your creative pre-schooler chewing on pencils and pens, it is a habit that should be avoided early on.

Chewing hard objects such as pencils and pens doesn’t only create a prime opportunity for bacteria to spread, but can also cause wearing away of tooth enamel. It starts a spiralling issue as it can lead to porous teeth, which in turn increases the chances of staining. Not only that, it can affect the alignment of their easily impacted growing teeth. Alongside this, nail and finger nibbling can cause sensitive teeth and encourage bruxism, also known as teeth grinding. Once again, if not identified and avoided, it can potentially lead to further discomfort and treatments.

Day Time Sippy Cups and Night Time Bottle Feeding:

Once your child reaches the age where they can hold onto their own cup it is easy to let them walk around with it all day having frequent little sips. This causes more harm than good.

Sipping on juice or milk all day means their teeth have constant contact with sugary juices and further means your child’s natural saliva isn’t given the opportunity to wash away the sugars that can cause tooth decay. Limit sippy cup time to meal times or the occasionally snack time. Make it a treat rather than an all-day must. Baby bottle tooth decay isn’t only induced by daytime cups. Night time bottle feeding can also be a problem as your child’s teeth are fermenting in sugar for the whole night, which could potentially cause painful tooth decay and discolouration. It may be the best method in lullabying your baby to sleep with a bottle, but think twice on the implications!

Swallowing Toothpaste:

Admittedly, brushing a new-born’s teeth can seem like the trickiest task that even a wonder mum has troubles with! However, it can be as simple as choosing a suitable kids toothpaste, and making sure to only apply only a small amount of toothpaste to the brush.

Fluoride contained in toothpaste is beneficial for your child’s teeth, as it is the go to cavity fighter. However, fluorosis, a condition that can cause discoloration including brown and white spots on the teeth, can be caused by too much fluoride. This is why it is paramount that you ensure your child isn’t swallowing it. Kid’s fluoride free toothpaste is recommended until they are old enough to spit the toothpaste out, as a little swallowing is inevitable with a little one.

Sugary Food and Beverages:

Whether your child has been well behaved and you want to treat them, or they are having a tantrum while you’re doing your food shop; giving them a bag of sweets to bide you some time always seems like the best solution. As a parent we have all been there, and it is easy to forget that these sweet sugar filled treats aren’t just creating hyperactive children – they’re also negatively affecting their teeth.

Tooth decay can target anyone of any age when exposed to high sugar content foods, yet children’s newly formed teeth are even more sensitive and vulnerable. The best preventative solution is to kick this habit early on, as this will make your child less dependent on sugar and less likely to crave it throughout their lives. Alternatively, replace these foods with healthy alternatives, such as bite sized apple segments, an orange or some dried fruit.

Above all, it is important to become a role model for your children by promoting a regular and consistent dental care regime, in the home and at the dentist. By taking your child to the dentist from day one and by making oral health an open discussion, this will eliminate any fears and the check-ups will become a normal and necessary part of their life.

About the Author:

Do you have a young child that you would like to bring in for a consultation or to sign up for NHS Dentistry? Please call us at Epsom Dental on 01372 720650 and book your child in for an appointment with one of our highly trained and experienced dental practitioners. We pride ourselves on being delicate and gentle with all our clients, especially small children.