Bad Habits That Can Damage Your Child's Oral Health

Bad Habits That Can Damage Your Child's Oral Health

Bad habits can have a negative impact on your child's oral health. Many habits are harmful to the teeth and jaw. Listed below are some common ones.

  • Avoiding Dentist Visits

Sadly, some parents never take their children to see a dentist until they are much older -- sometimes much older than they should be. In cases like this, the child will have developed many bad habits without even realizing that they are harming their teeth.

Schedule regular visits to our office every six months for cleanings and examinations. These visits allow us to remove any plaque buildup and tartar that may cause your child to develop cavities. Additionally, the twice-yearly exams allow us to inspect your child's mouth for any signs of developing orthodontic issues. For older children, we may be able to provide interceptive orthodontic treatment to correct bite problems. Younger patients may be referred to an orthodontist to receive corrective care. You can also help your children avoid having to go through intensive restorative dental care by making sure they visit the dentist at a young age. A pediatric dentist can help your child understand the importance of taking care of his or her teeth and can demonstrate proper brushing techniques as well. The earlier you allow your kids to start going to the dentist, the easier it will be for them to develop healthy habits as they grow up.

  • Ignoring Tooth Problems

There are many bad habits that can harm your child's oral health. Allowing these habits to continue can have serious consequences on the teeth, gums, and even jaw development. These issues can be very painful and costly to correct over time. For example, letting cavities go untreated can lead to root canal therapy or tooth extractions. Your child may also develop painful gum disease. Often, this type of condition requires extensive treatment, including scaling and root planing, bone grafts, pocket reduction surgery, and/or dental implants. If you do not allow the dentist to treat these problems early on, your child could experience a lifetime of pain, discomfort, and difficulty when biting, chewing, speaking, or smiling. By understanding the signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral problems, your pediatric dentist can identify concerns early on and prevent them from getting worse. 

  • Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking can cause problems with your child's teeth, including a crossbite or open bite. A crossbite is when a child's upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth, and a closed bite happens when their top and bottom teeth fit together normally. An open bite occurs when the patient's upper and lower front teeth do not touch each other when biting down. Thumb sucking can also lead to tooth decay because children put their hands in their mouths after sucking on their thumbs, bringing harmful bacteria into their mouths. If your child is still sucking their thumb past the age of five, talk to your dentist at their next appointment. Some kids need oral appliances to help break the habit.

  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding is one of the most common forms of sleep disorders. Bruxism affects roughly 10% of adults and is twice as common in men than in women. Children can also develop a habit of grinding their teeth during sleep. This condition commonly occurs because of stress or anxiety that builds up throughout the day and then continues into the night.

People with bruxism clench their jaw and grind their teeth together while they are sleeping. This constant clenching of the jaw puts pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which can lead to permanent damage and pain. Night guards help to prevent tooth damage due to grinding at night.

  • Eating Too Much Sugar

Too much sugar can damage a child's teeth. It can lead to cavities, plaque buildup, and even gum disease. Parents can help keep their children from consuming too much sugar by monitoring the foods and drinks they give them throughout the day. For example, keeping candy at home can encourage children to eat it instead of healthier snacks like apples or carrots. Likewise, regular soda consumption can cause tooth decay in addition to weight gain and obesity. Try providing your child with thirst quenchers such as water or flavored water. Fruit juice also has natural sugars and should be limited as well.

Avoid giving your children too many sweet snacks between meals since it will increase the risk of cavities and decay. Limiting sticky foods such as dried fruit and gummy candies can also prevent tooth decay. And always perform thorough oral health care for your child to prevent gum disease. Brushing and flossing regularly can ensure that their teeth are healthy and strong.

  • Chewing On Pencils

Children often put objects in their mouths out of curiosity or because they are bored. Unfortunately, these objects can be damaging to the teeth and gums. Pencils, pens, crayons, and other non-edible objects should not be chewed on by children of any age. If you think your child has an issue with over habituating to chewing on non-food items, we urge you to schedule a consultation with us as soon as possible. Dental emergencies are serious and should not be ignored.

To take care of your child's oral health, contact Grant Gerety, DDS, at Warren Clinic Bldg # 7, 4606 E. 67th St., Suite 310, Tulsa, OK 74136. Call us at (918) 493-3031 to book an appointment. 


Warren Clinic Bldg # 7, 4606 E. 67th St., Suite 310, Tulsa, OK 74136

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Phone: (918) 493-3031