6 Ways Your Kids Hurt Their Teeth Without You Even Knowing
Being a parent is tough. You’re on the clock every hour of every day. Your children depend on you, and part of raising them means keeping them safe and healthy. You know to skip soda and candy to protect their teeth, but did you know juice, bottles, and pacifiers can hurt their smiles? Because we practice family dentistry, we have seen how kids’ teeth get hurt. Here are six ways kids can hurt their teeth without you realizing it.
How Kids Hurt Their Teeth
Drinking a lot of fruit juice. Parents know better than to give soda to their toddlers. When your kids get older, the occasional soda is fine. But when they are still growing and starting healthy habits, you don’t want them getting addicted to sugary soda. The problem is all that sugar. The bacteria that cause cavities loves that stuff. The more sugar you drink from soda, the more those bacteria will grow.
Unfortunately, that’s what is in fruit juices as well. Sure, there are a lot of good vitamins in orange and apple juice. Vitamin C is important. But you need to be careful. Drinking a glass of juice coats your teeth in sugar just like a drinking a glass of soda. Limit how much your kids drink juice or they’ll start getting cavities before you know it.
Tongue thrusting. This is hard to detect, but it’s something many children do that can hurt their smiles. It’s when you thrust your tongue forward when you swallow. It’s easier to swallow when your mouth is sealed. Some kids push their tongue up against their teeth to create that seal. This pressure can slowly move their teeth out of alignment. When you bring your children to our Millburn, NJ dental office, ask Dr. Krosser if he sees any signs of tongue thrusting.
Taking medicine with a lot sugar in it. It’s hard to get kids to take medicine like cough syrup or liquid allergy medicine. It tastes bad, so kids don’t want it. To counteract this, many drug companies add a ton of sugar to medicine. If a kids cough syrup comes with flavors like cherry or orange, read the label. See how much sugar is in there. As with soda and fruit juice, sugary medicines coat your teeth in sugar and increase the risk of cavities.
Most drugstores carry diabetic-friendly or sugar-free version of popular medicines for kids. Stick with these when you can.
Baby bottle tooth decay. The reason you should brush and floss after eating is to get rid of tiny particles of food and drink. Bacteria in your mouth feeds off those particles. If your mouth isn’t clean, bacteria will spread. That increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Many parents think their infants and toddlers do not need to worry about such things. After all, their teeth will fall out soon. True, but that doesn’t mean your kids cannot get cavities or gum disease. If your child drinks lots of milk or juice from a bottle, their baby teeth get coated in the stuff. If you don’t rinse with water, you’re setting up dinner for harmful bacteria.
Sucking on pacifiers or thumbs after permanent teeth start to come in. There’s nothing wrong with a child who sucks their thumbs or uses a pacifier. It’s a great way for kids to sooth themselves as they struggle to understand the world. Most kids stop naturally right around when the baby teeth fall out and adult ones come in. If such sucking continues, however, this will hurt their teeth. Sucking creates pressure in their mouth. As the adult teeth come in, that pressure will make teeth come in crooked.
Again, thumb sucking in the early years does nothing bad. If it continues, your kids will need orthodontic treatments much sooner.
Not drinking enough tap water. Milk and juice are great for kids (but limit the juice — see above). You cannot beat water, though. It’s probably the most healthy drink out there. Bottled water is fine, but don’t forget that tap water includes a small amount of fluoride. When it was added to our tap water decades ago, everyone’s teeth became healthier. That’s because fluoride is great for teeth that are still growing. It strengthens the enamel and can even repair microscopic damage.
If you stick with bottled water, your kids are missing out on the fluoride they need. Filtering it is fine, but let your kids drink tap water when possible.
The key to excellent smiles is regular cleanings and exams. We offer family dentistry, and we can help your children have healthy dental habits. Call us today at (973) 957-1604 to schedule a new appointment for your children.