At Nocona Dental, we understand that when it comes to raising a small child, parents generally have more pressing concerns on their mind then oral health. After all, a child’s permanent teeth won’t form for a few years, and any damage that does occur will be to baby teeth that will eventually fall out anyway. While this rationale makes sense, Nocona dentist Dr. Benjamin Anderson wants every parent to understand the that the foundation of a child’s permanent teeth is built on the health of his or her baby teeth.
Your child’s baby teeth play several important roles in how his permanent teeth form. Baby teeth act as a space holder for the development of permanent teeth by preventing neighboring teeth from drifting. If your child should lose a baby tooth at too young an age, teeth that surround the gap may start to move away from their original positions as your child’s jaw continues to develop. With its reserved space now occupied, a tooth that has newly emerged will form crooked or start crowding existing permanent teeth.
When kids lose their baby teeth at too young an age or when adult teeth form incorrectly, their risk of suffering lasting oral health problem increase. Without their baby teeth in place, kids can develop an eating problem or begin to compensate for missing teeth by lip sucking or tongue thrusting, two conditions that can further contribute to a misaligned bite. Kids also have a higher risk of developing a speech impediment should they lose baby teeth at young age when their language skills begin to take shape.
Fortunately, parents can help to prevent tooth decay in order to maintain their child’s oral health by avoiding plaque building habits. To help keep your child smiling her best, here are three bad oral habits parents should break.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay and cavities form in a child’s mouth the same way as in adult’s. Bacteria in the mouth called plaque produces substances that damage tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay. Plaque feeds off the starches and sugars you eat to produce the acids that destroy enamel. Failing to brush and floss regularly allows plaque to buildup in the mouth, and the more plaque, the more damage occurs to the health of your teeth after eating.
Plaque forms naturally in a child’s mouth, which becomes problematic should her teeth not receive regular cleaning by a parent. Kids who get put down by a parent with a bottle are especially at risk of having their teeth damaged by the affects of plaque. The sugary liquids in the bottle remain pooled around your child’s front teeth as she sleeps, which provides plaque with plenty of fuel to erode tooth enamel with during the time spent napping. If this habit persists throughout a child’s dental development, she has a significantly higher risk of suffering from decay and cavities.
To limit your child’s exposure to plaque acids, parents should resist laying a child down with a bottle that contains anything but water. Parents should also take the time to wipe your baby’s gum cleans or gently brush his teeth following a feeding.
Ditch the Sippy Cup
A baby bottle isn’t the only bad drinking habit that can cause problems for a child’s teeth. Parents often turn to sippy cups as a means of helping a child’s transition from bottle to big girl cup. While sippy cups can assist in this process, the trouble starts depending on what parents provide their kids to drink.
Many parents mistakenly believe juice a healthy beverage to provide their child with throughout the day. However, the majority of fruit juice contains natural and added sugars that can negatively contribute to decay when consumed too frequently. In fact, a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found kids whose diets contained high amounts of fruit juice had a higher risk of tooth decay and childhood obesity.
Ban the Binky
While the use of a pacifier during a child’s first year of life can actually help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), long-term use of the item can cause developmental problems with his oral health. Strenuous sucking on a pacifier, for example, can alter how a child’s top and bottom teeth align and can change the shape of his mouth. So while it’s perfectly acceptable to provide an infant with a pacifier, parents should actively start weaning their child off once he reaches two.
If you have any questions about the best practices for protecting your child’s oral health or even finding out about dental implants Nocona feel free to ask Dr. Anderson or any member of our Nacona Dental staff.