As a parent, you are committed to doing your best, but mistakes happen. Dental appointments can be forgotten, toothbrushes can be lost, and you might give snacks more often than you should, but which errors will actually hurt your child's teeth? Here are three parenting mistakes that can haunt your child's smile down the road, and what you can do to change your ways for the better.
1. Not Reading Labels
Simple starches and sugary foods give oral bacteria a readily available source of nutrition, which is why reading labels are important to protect your little one's smile. Unfortunately, if you aren't careful, you might unintentionally offer foods or snacks that damage your child's teeth, putting them at a higher risk for early childhood tooth decay.
To ward off problems, focus on reading food labels carefully and avoiding items that are filled with sugars or sugar substitutes. Instead, opt for fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and items that are naturally flavored. Additionally, try to stay away from foods that are hard or especially chewy since these items can wreak havoc on things like sealants, fillings, and dental crowns.
For example, if you read a food label and you find out that the item contains dried corn kernels, consider another snack instead, since those kernels could lead to painful dental fractures or damaged sealant surfaces.
It never fails. Your child always wants what is on your plate, and you might be more than happy to oblige - most of the time. Unfortunately, sharing food, drinks, and even dental care instruments could be causing cavities in your little one since oral bacteria can be transmitted through saliva transfer.
Research has shown that although kids aren't born with the type of bacteria that causes decay, parents often give it to their little ones early on, causing painful cavities and even dental abscesses.
To avoid spreading oral infections, focus on keeping your food, drinks, utensils, and toothbrushes to yourself, and providing your child with their own equipment. Since kissing kids on the lips can also transmit these oral bacteria, encourage cheek or forehead kisses, and tell other family members to do the same.
Keep things like tongue scrapers and interdental cleaners well-labeled and out of reach for little ones, since kids naturally gravitate towards gadgets and gizmos owned by parents.
3. Offering Juice and Sports Drinks Frequently
Every time your child takes a sip of a juice box or a sports drink, it changes the acidity of their saliva. Although this phenomenon is a natural occurrence necessary for digesting food particles, the fact of the matter is that it can be incredibly damaging to the teeth. In fact, acidity changes spark oral acid attacks that last upwards of 20 minutes, putting your child's dental enamel at risk.
Because more acidic saliva softens dental enamel, kids who are allowed to sip away on sports drinks or juices throughout the day tend to have problems with dental decay. When the enamel is soft, oral bacteria can cause more damage as it produces acids and eats away at those shiny, white surfaces.
To keep your child's teeth healthy, offer them unsweetened water during the day, and save the milk, juice, and sports drinks for special occasions.
Parenting is far from easy, but here at Grant/Moana Dental Offices, we are committed to making the dental care part a little easier. With a wide range of services including well visits, preventive cleanings, and gentle restorative services, we can help your child to enjoy a smile that is just as comfortable as it is healthy. Schedule appointments for your family today to enjoy dentistry on a whole new level.