The cute things your kids do today may end up bad habits tomorrow. And children don’t exactly follow the book on dental care, so it is best to set them on the right path to healthy teeth and gums before it’s too late. Here are some common bad habits and how, as a parent, you can put an end to them.
1. Sucking thumbs
Thumb and finger-sucking is a habit that can lead to misaligned teeth. This happens when the jaw bones start to reshape and push teeth out of their natural alignment, or when the tongue is held in the wrong place, forcing narrowing of the upper jaw and resulting in crowding of the teeth. Usually, children stop sucking their thumbs between 2 and 4 years old but should permanently stop by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Pacifiers can also cause dental problems but is often an easier habit to break.
2. Chewing hard objects
Even after they've outgrown sucking their thumbs, children may turn to chewing and biting on hard objects. Biting their nails, chewing on pencils, crunching ice… these habits place a lot of stress on teeth and wears down enamel, making them more prone to cavities and tooth fracture. Most of the time, kids do this out of anxiety, so if you notice this habit, it is best to speak to your children about what's troubling them.
3. Bottle to bed
If you’re one of those parents who send their kids to bed with a bottle of milk in hand, here’s some sobering news: the sugars in the milk stay on the teeth through the night, reacting with germs in the mouth to form acids that eat through enamel and cause cavities. Yes, this is a hard habit to break, but unless you do, you will be asking for early childhood cavities!
4. Swallowing toothpaste
It's minty, sweet and fresh — there's no surprise that some children love swallowing toothpaste. To prevent this, keep an eye on your kids' brushing technique and ensure they spit and rinse their mouths properly. It's also useful to let them know that they don't need to cover the length of their toothbrush head with toothpaste — all they need is a pea-sized glob!