For a Lifetime of Healthy Smiles
Developing an effective at-home oral hygiene routine is essential for protecting your child’s smile. It’s also important to visit our dentists at Corner Stone Dental for regular checkups where we provide additional care.
There’s a lot more you can do to keep your child’s smile in tip-top shape. Learn about the ways you can help.
How to Prevent Cavities
Preventing cavities usually comes down to developing healthy habits. Creating a daily regimen for your child that includes brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing at least once daily will help preserve their oral health.
A Healthy Diet
Your child’s diet has a tremendous impact on their oral health. Many snacks contain some type of sugar, even grain-based foods like bread or crackers. It would be difficult to eliminate all types of sugar from your child’s diet, but balancing what they eat will help keep their teeth in good shape.
Minimizing the amount of sugar your child consumes will go a long way toward preventing cavities and oral disease. Limiting food consumption to mealtimes rather than constantly snacking will also help protect your child’s smile.
Careful With Sippy Cups
Sippy cups can be an unanticipated cause of cavities in young children. While sippy cups are useful for transitioning from a bottle to regular cups, they carry some risks. For this reason, we recommend only using a sippy cup until your child can successfully drink from a regular cup.
Some other tips for sippy cup use include:
- Fill the sippy cup with non-sugary beverages — water is always the best option.
- Take the cup away when your child has finished their beverage.
- Don’t let your child take their sippy cup to bed unless it’s filled with water.
- Don’t use sippy cups to comfort a distressed child.
- Frequently rinse and clean the sippy cup to eliminate germs.
- Limit sugary beverages to mealtimes, when saliva production is highest.
Pacifiers and Thumbsucking
Children who use pacifiers or suck their thumbs after the age of five are at greater risk for developing dental complications. This is especially true for children who continue these habits as their permanent teeth begin to emerge.
Though thumbsucking can be a difficult habit to break, it’s important for the sake of your child’s oral hygiene. There are many ways these habits can harm your child’s oral health, including:
- Jaw misalignment — Pacifiers and thumbs are unnatural for the mouth to hold. This can cause developing jaws to have poor alignment.
- Tooth decay — Some parents attempt to soothe infants by dipping pacifiers in honey or other sugary substances, but this can promote decay by feeding oral bacteria that may infect the child’s teeth and gums.
- Roof narrowing — The structures in the mouth are very pliable during childhood and prolonged sucking on a thumb or pacifier can change the structure of the mouth. The roof of the mouth can narrow as if it were molding around the sucking device.
- Slanting teeth — Like the roof narrowing, the teeth may also form around the sucking device, slanting and creating misaligned teeth.
- Mouth sores — Passive sucking is less harmful than aggressive sucking, which may be noticeable from the popping sounds your child makes. Aggressive sucking can cause sores or ulcers to develop.
For teens, tobacco use may become a concern. Tobacco doesn’t just affect your teen’s overall health — it also impacts their oral health. A smoker’s mouth is directly exposed to dangerous chemicals that can cause irreparable harm.
One of the largest concerns is oral cancer. Oral cancer can become a life-threatening condition and it may also have negative effects on oral health, such as:
- Changing the way the teeth fit together
- Causing difficulty when moving the jaw
- Mouth sores that don’t heal
- Numbness or tenderness
- Red or white spots on the cheeks, lips, or tongue
If you notice any of these symptoms in your teen, it’s imperative to seek treatment immediately. Oral cancer can be treated more easily when it’s discovered in its early stages.
Mouth and tongue piercings are another potential oral health hazard that your teen may be interested in. Serious issues can arise with unlicensed parlors. But there are still many painful conditions that can result, even if you get your piercing from a licensed practitioner.
Some of these issues include:
- Bacterial infections
- Blood clots
- Blood poisoning
- Brain abscess
- Chronic pain
- Damaged nerves
- Fractured or cracked teeth
- Heart infections
- Hypersensitivity reactions to the metal bar
- Periodontal disease
- Difficulty speaking clearly
Long-term problems associated with tongue piercings are common, as the screw-on balls constantly scrape against the protective layer of enamel on the teeth. This makes your teen more susceptible to tooth decay. The soft tissue that rubs against the piercing can also become infected.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends against getting any type of oral piercing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Taking care of your kid’s teeth won’t be much different than taking care of your own. Brush their teeth twice a day (morning and night) with kid-friendly toothpaste. Once the first tooth appears, you’ll need to begin cleaning it regularly. Even babies can develop cavities on their teeth, so early oral care is very important. Once two teeth touch, make sure to clean between them.
It’s also important to bring your child to regular dental appointments so we can provide professional guidance and care.
You should start cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as their first tooth appears. As soon as a tooth erupts, it’s susceptible to tooth decay. Cleaning these early teeth helps prevent cavities from affecting your child. Make sure to use kid-friendly, low fluoride toothpaste to clean your child’s early teeth.
Yes. Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, they affect your child’s tooth development and oral health. If you leave cavities on baby teeth, they’ll only worsen and the infection can spread. Severe tooth infections can lead to severe pain and can extend to bodily health issues. It’s important to fix cavities so your child can develop a healthy adult smile and avoid these complications.