Parents have a lot of responsibility on their plate. They need to make sure their kids are protected, safe, happy, loved, and healthy – all of which is no small feat! And while nearly every parent is trying their best, even the best of us slip up every now and then.
One of the most common “slip ups” we see is children whose dental health has fallen by the wayside. For one reason or another (too many sugary snacks, not enough time brushing, etc.), many little ones suffer from a variety of dental problems. Here are some of the most common issues – and ways that you can prevent them in your kids.
If your child is dealing with some form of tooth decay, know that you’re not alone. Tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood illness in the country! Every year, countless kids deal with problems associated with tooth decay, such as cavities, infection, and premature tooth loss.
While tooth decay can be treated at your dentist’s office, it’s always best to get your child treated as early as possible. If a child loses too many teeth from decay, it can impede in his or her speech development. Of course, the best way to prevent these problems is to prevent tooth decay entirely.
Teach your child proper oral hygiene as soon as possible! Start by brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they grow in and continue to encourage proper brushing and flossing habits as they age. Great oral care is the best defense against tooth decay, so it should always be a top priority.
Many, many children suck their thumbs. In fact, this habit first develops in the womb, where a baby may suck his or her thumb to self-soothe before birth. In the first years of life, there’s nothing wrong with this behavior – but when a child continues sucking beyond age 4 or 5, this can cause real problems.
If a child sucks their thumb for too long, it can result in jaw misalignment or incorrect teeth placement. This can interfere with proper eating and speech development – not to mention the hefty orthodontic bill you’ll have when they’re teens! The best thing to do is encourage your child to break this habit around age 4.
Experts agree that positive reinforcement is the best way to stop a child from sucking their thumb. Remember, this is a self-soothing technique; getting angry or punishing a child for doing it will only make them more distressed! Use gentle reminders and rewards to help your child learn new coping mechanisms and break this habit.
Have you ever watched a small child eat or babble? In many cases, the child pushes their tongue against their gums to accomplish this task. This is known as tongue thrusting, and while it’s a natural impulse for babies, it can lead to real problems once a child’s teeth start to grow in.
Like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting is a habit that most children outgrow by the time they reach elementary school (usually around age 7). But if a child continues tongue thrusting, it can lead to overbites, misalignment, and difficulties when eating or speaking.
Tongue thrusting is a difficult habit to break – mainly because most people don’t notice when they do it. However, there are some exercises your child can try to retrain his or her tongue and prevent it from thrusting forward. Talk to your dentist about these exercises if you’re concerned about your child’s tongue thrusting.
Schedule Your Child’s Next Dental Appointment
Of course, the most important part of any child’s oral hygiene routine is a regular visit to the dentist. Call our office to make an appointment for your child at Countryside Dental Group.