Most parents don’t worry too much about their kids’ teeth, especially below the age of six. It’s easy to take their dental teeth for granted. After all, your little ones are afraid of dentists, and chances are that you – as a parent – are equally wary. First off, you’re probably afraid because you’re seeing the wrong dentist, or because of bad memories in oral hygiene.
Fortunately, modern dentistry is nothing like the horror stories you heard or experienced in your childhood. With improved technology and dental practices, many treatments are quick and painless. Think about it. Braces can now be invisible, and there are advancements like sleep dentistry and laser dentistry that lower discomfort levels to nearly zero.
Another reason you might neglect the dental health of your children is that you assume milk teeth aren’t that important. You figure they’ll all fall out, so they don’t need much care. It doesn’t seem worth the effort of wrangling your kids into avoiding sweets or regularly brushing and flossing. It feels like a lot of unnecessary work.
While it’s true that baby teeth are temporary, they do affect your child’s permanent ones. If the baby teeth rot prematurely, they can affect the foundation and position of their adult dental formula, and that kind of deep-rooted damage is harder to correct.
Many good habits are developed in childhood, and good oral hygiene is no different. In the same way, bad dental habits acquired as a kid are likely to stay with your little ones for life. This becomes a deeper problem once you realise that a lot of these oral and dental patterns seem benign, so you probably haven’t done anything to stop them.
A lot of parents soothe their babies and toddlers to sleep using bottle or breastfeeding. While this is fun for the baby, it can harm their teeth. How? Well, if a baby falls asleep at the breast, there’s a big chance they still have milk in their mouth. While the baby’s swallow reflex ensures this isn’t a choking hazard, it might still affect their gums and un-erupted teeth.
The same challenge faces babies who constantly have their bottles or pacifiers in their mouths. The problem is compounded when parents douse the pacifiers or fill the bottles with juice, sugary drinks, or sweetened substances. Some parents add a little cereal to the bottles to get the baby fuller and help them sleep through the night.
The danger in these tactics is that the babies’ teeth and gums are consistently bathed in sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. Even a little sugar can cause progressive damage, which is why the natural sugar in breast milk can be a problem as well. And some children continue to breastfeed all the way to their fifth or sixth birthdays.
For breastfed babies, you don’t have to deprive your child of your most intrinsic form of comfort. It’s good for their health, and bonds you to each other. But while there is some validated bliss in having your child fall asleep at your breast, keep an eye on them.
Once you’re sure they’re asleep, take your breast out of their mouth. Use the right unlatching technique, to avoid hurting your nipples and causing yourself unnecessary pain and cracking.
If you have a hectic day, it’s tempting to give your child a bottle to calm them as you cook, do housework, or run errands. Try other soothing methods instead, like a pacifier. Make sure the pacifier is clean, and don’t dip it in juice or honey.
You can also soothe your baby using a bottle filled with plain water instead of sweetened drinks and milk. Sometimes the sucking action calms the baby just as effectively as the choice of fluid, so unless the baby is hungry, water is a better choice. At bed time, a pacifier or a bottle with just a little water is healthier than cereal, juice, or milk.
If your baby is too little for a toothbrush, wipe their gums with a clean, damp cloth. Start this as early as possible, even from day one. It develops good oral hygiene habits. As your baby gets older, switch the bottle for a sippy cup, since it slips over the teeth and reduces the teeth’s exposure to sugar-based bacteria. The cup should hold water more often than juice.
Another matter you may not have considered is sucking their thumbs, tongues, or lips. This can cause overbite and possible lisping. This is fine for smaller kids but can affect their teeth if they haven’t stopped by age five or six. It can also get them bullied or teased, which has deep social and psychological effects that can last a long time.
Many parents confront the habit by scolding, teasing, or peppering the child’s thumb. These methods can be counterproductive because sucking is a soothing mechanism. It gives the child comfort, so stressing the child out might just make them seek more comfort. It can add shame and anxiety to their relief, which only reinforces the habit as they try to hide it.
Instead of punishing the child, use positive reinforcement to make the child want to stop on their own. Discover the triggers for sucking and find other ways of soothing your child’s unease. Once the child has agreed that they no longer want to suck, you can use a band aid or dental appliance to make the actually sucking less pleasant and therefore less appealing.
Source of information: http://bit.ly/2wCrlMQ
Image Source: Pixabay