A Pediatric Dentist’s Approach to Breaking Bad Dental Habits

A Pediatric Dentist’s Approach to Breaking Bad Dental Habits

March 6, 2020 12:39 pm Published by

We all want the best for our children, and we do our utmost to make sure they get a great start in life. A good diet and exercise are vital for health and happiness – but what about your children’s teeth? While baby teeth might not seem like the top priority, a daily dental routine needs to start early to be effective throughout our lifetime. It’s also really important to establish and try to phase out disruptive habits while your children are young. Specialist children’s dentistry has ways to discourage these habits, and can help ensure your children avoid problems and have great dental health well into adulthood.

  • Bottles and night feeding

The best way to establish a good dental routine is to start from day 1. Breast milk and many formula milks contain sugar in the form of lactose – and while this isn’t an issue before your baby’s teeth have started to show, it is best to think about mouth health now. Gently wiping a baby’s mouth with a damp soft washcloth after feeding is a simple and easy way to begin good practices. Once a baby’s teeth have started to show, hygiene is even more important, and feedings at night can become particularly problematic. The sugar in the milk will form bacteria and decay baby teeth in just the same way as for an adult. So, it’s important to clean teeth or stop night feeding altogether when baby teeth start to show. Once your child has graduated to sippy cups, make sure you are aware what kind of liquids they are drinking. It’s best to save milk and juice for meal times and make sure your child drinks only water through the day and at bedtime. If your child does happen to lose a baby tooth early then the best pediatric dentist in Dubai may choose a ‘space maintainer’ which will help fill the space until the adult teeth start to show.

  • Mouth breathing

Less well known but still a surprisingly common problem, breathing through the mouth instead of through the nose can have unexpected dental health implications for children. Chronic mouth breathing – where your child is breathing through their mouth all the time, such as when asleep or even during the day – is attributable to tooth crowding and underdeveloped jaws. If left untreated, it can develop into enlarged tonsils and adenoids, or even Obstructive Sleep Apnea later on in life. As a parent, it’s easy to miss – however, a pediatric dentist knows to look for symptoms such as open mouth posture, a dry mouth, and unusual face and palate shapes. So, it’s important to schedule regular appointments.

  • Thumb sucking

Lots of children suck their thumbs when they are small, and stop by themselves as they get older. Most commonly this is when children are between four and six years of age. If the habit persists, however, it can cause tooth misalignment for baby teeth and adult teeth alike. Don’t scold or bribe, as this doesn’t always work and can affect your child’s confidence. If the thumb sucking habit doesn’t disappear by itself, then the best pediatric dentist in Dubai can help. This could be through behavior modification with a reward system, or through the use of a dental appliance to discourage your child from wanting to put their thumb in their mouth.

  • Pacifiers

In a similar way to thumb sucking, the use of pacifiers comforting for your child, but can affect adult teeth development if it’s prolonged for too long after babyhood. For example, your child might require braces later on to correct their misaligned teeth. The best age to phase out pacifiers is after one year. It’s also important that your child is motivated to stop the habit, otherwise, it will be all the harder to break. A pediatric dentist in Dubai will be able to help with individual advice and strategies.

  • Lip biting

Lip licking or biting usually starts when your child has dry lips, or is trying to remove dry skin – like many habits, it can then become a reassuring activity which they return to whenever they are tired, worried or bored. The more your child chews or bites, the more the skin become irritated. Eventually, if unchecked, it can lead to a mouth infection – or if the biting is forceful enough, it can affect the alignment of the teeth also. As with other undesirable habits, it’s best not to tell your child off, as this only draws attention to the habit itself and may even make your child more anxious. Lip balm can help reduce the rough skin that starts the vicious cycle in the first place. Seek out a children’s dentistry specialist for other ideas on ways to break the habit.

  • Nail biting and teeth grinding

Nail biting can be unsightly and it’s one of the most common habits, with an estimated two thirds of children and teenagers anxiously chewing their nails at some point. What you might not be aware of is the link between nail biting and excessive teeth grinding –called bruxism. No one quite knows how or why, but the nail biting action can trigger tooth grinding, usually when your child is asleep – so they aren’t aware of it. Regular pediatric dentist appointments are the best way to diagnose and treat the problem. If your child starts waking up with unexplained headaches or an aching jaw, book an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Dubai for a check-up.

  • Find the right pediatric dentist

Probably the best boost you can give your child’s dental health is to schedule regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist in Dubai. Don’t wait until there is a problem before making a dental appointment. Specialist children’s dentistry can quickly diagnose and treat any problems very early on, and also help with advice for the best dental care back at home. Drs. Nicolas & Asp has one of the largest teams for children’s dentistry in Dubai, and has the first dedicated pediatric dentistry center in Dubai, with a fully-equipped general anesthesia operation room should further treatment be needed.

  • Building a relationship with your dentist

Most of us don’t particularly enjoy a visit to the dentist, but it’s very important to avoid passing this feeling onto children. Make visiting the dentist a positive experience for your child, and one that is a regular event. Also, aim for morning appointments to avoid tiredness or impatience. Start before their first birthday or when your child has their first tooth, and make appointments at least every six months after that.

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