Being a parent is a challenge, and they often have their hands full of responsibilities (in and out of the house). But one of the thing a good parent should always make time for is their child’s oral health – and a lot of common dental mistakes can be made in this department.
Read on and discover the four common (and serious) dental mistakes parents make with their kids, and what to do about it.
Not Visiting The Dentist Soon Enough
A worrying fact: it’s common for children two to three years of age to have serious dental conditions that require going under anesthesia for treatment. Not bringing kids to the dentist early enough plays a serious role in this problem.
Children’s teeth begin to develop long before birth. And by the time a baby is six months old, the family doctor should examine a child’s dental health and his or her risk of developing oral problems.
To carry out the assessment, your dentist may include a dental exam for the mother and a review of her dental history. The mother’s dental health and condition of teeth are strong predictors for the child’s teeth.
Your dentist may conclude that oral problems are on the horizon. If this is the case, the baby should see a dentist when the first tooth erupts (usually around 6 months) or on his or her first birthday.
Following the initial examination, a dentist may require frequent visits to keep oral health problems at bay. If not, sticking to the usual twice-a-year examination is recommended.
Not only will this keep the child’s oral health in tip-top shape, a regular dental examination will also help your child get accustomed and comfortable with it.
Putting Baby To Bed With A Bottle
Do you put your child to bed with a drink or a feeding bottle?
Putting a child to sleep with a sippy cup or feeding bottle full of juice or formula milk elevates the sugar and bacteria levels in the baby’s mouth – and keeps it up for a long time. This can lead to bottle mouth, and it’s not a pretty sight!
But here’s the odd part: a survey by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry found that 85% of parents know that putting babies to bed with a milk bottle is bad. However, 20% of parents did it anyway.
Don’t be that parent!
Remove the bottle as soon as the child is done and wipe their mouth with a clean wash cloth. If the baby wakes up in the wee hours for milk, wipe their mouth again or brush their teeth before sleep.
If you are breastfeeding, know that a mother’s milk also contains sugar like formula milk. That’s why it’s important to take care of a baby’s teeth and have regular dental check-ups whether breastfeeding or otherwise.
On the other hand, breastfeeding reduces the risk of baby bottle tooth decay and even helps build a better bite!
Not Teaching Good Dental Habits Early On
Brushing is an essential part of basic oral care. Not introducing brushing and other oral care practices early can lead to the child having difficulties developing the right habits.
Before a baby’s teeth even erupts, one should gently brush the gums using water and a baby toothbrush or a soft cloth. After the teeth erupt, brush their twice a day with toothpaste.
Introducing brushing at an early age helps the young one grow comfortable and have more time developing the habit. And by ages three to six years old, teaching a child how to brush becomes a top dental health priority.
Teach your kid how to brush two times a day for two minutes each. Take a pea-sized pod of fluoridated toothpaste. Help him or her place the toothbrush at an angle against the gums.
Use gentle and short back-and-forth strokes, and clean the front, back, and top of the teeth. And lastly, show your child how to spit out the toothpaste when done brushing.
While brushing is important, flossing is necessary to get rid of pieces of food stuck in between the teeth. Start flossing as soon as two of your kid’s teach touch each other, and consult a dentist for recommended techniques and flossing schedule.
One last note: before bedtime is always a good time for brushing and flossing. After cleaning their teeth, however, don’t give any food and drink to your child until the next morning.
Not Supervising Kids When Brushing Their Teeth
Sure, teaching children how to brush at an early is an oral health best practice. But letting them brush their teeth without supervision is not!
Your child may have the best of intentions and want to do a sterling job of brushing their teeth. But Dr. Edward H. Moody, Jr., president of the AAPD says: “They’re just not physically capable yet.”
Most children don’t have the motor skills needed for good brushing until eight years of age. And parents need to keep a good eye on how their kids brush, making sure every tooth and its surface is squeaky clean.
The British Dental Health Association (BHDF) discovered in a poll that 37% of parents stopped supervising their children’s brushing before reaching seven years of age – a year before children are fully capable of brushing.
Yes, sugar has crept into our diets and eating habits. Common foods like bread, orange juice, tomato sauce, and even “good foods” like yogurt with fruit are packed with sugar. Without a doubt, this plays a crucial role in tooth decay.
However, daily oral hygiene routine must also be taken into account. And if children, try as they might, can’t brush properly, grown-ups should be around to guide and help them.
Not giving kids the time and opportunity needed to hone oral health skills and build good habits can lead to a lifetime of oral problems.
Avoid These Common Dental Mistakes
We’ve just looked at the four big mistakes parents make when it comes to their kids’ oral hygiene. But more important, we’ve looked at the things you can do to remedy the problem.
Make visiting the dentist a regular and comfortable routine. Help your child clean their teeth after feeding. Teach them good oral hygiene habits, and never tire in guiding them. Keep those in mind and your child will be well on his or her way to a happier and healthier oral health.