As parents, one of our most important jobs is to help protect our children.  Preventing dental issues before they start falls into that responsibility.  Because so many dental issues are avoidable, understanding bad habits your children may have with their mouths can help you get ahead of problems before your dentist spots them at a checkup.  

Bad Habit #1: Pacifier Use or Sucking Fingers/Thumbs 

By age two, continued pacifier use or finger/thumb sucking will cause permanent skeletal/bony changes in your child’s orofacial development that can only be corrected with growth modification devices. One of the most visible malformations is a narrow palate with “open bite,” where the front teeth do not close together. This malformation of the jawbones is often associated with eating and speech difficulties.   

Bad Habit #2: Drinking Juice Throughout the Day 

Have your child drink fluoridated tap water between meals. If they’re sipping on fruit juice all day long, their risk for cavities will skyrocket. Sugary sports drinks are just as bad as juices, so we recommend saving those for super-hot days and competitive sports where there’s an actual risk of dehydration.  

Bad Habit #3: Not Wearing a Sports Guard 

Athletic injuries are one of the most common dental emergencies we see at Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan. Have your child wear a protective appliance at practice and during games to avoid chipped or knocked-out teeth, soft tissue injuries and concussions.  

Bad Habit #4: Chewing Fingernails or Other Items 

Teeth are tools used in eating and language formation, but they are not nail clippers. End-on-end biting will cause tooth wear and cause enamel and dental work to wear out prematurely.  

Bad Habit #5: Grinding of teeth 

When teeth are clenched and gritted into each other during the day, we can recognize it and try to do something about it.  However, this is a common nighttime activity for both kids and adults.  Sometimes it is done in passing when baby teeth are loosening but when it is a chronic habit significant damage can accumulate in the enamel that is difficult and expensive to repair.  A simple night guard can be made to protect teeth from abnormal bruxism (tooth grinding) habits. 

Bad Habit #6: Not Seeing a Dentist for Checkups 

Early children’s dental checkups help stop cavities and orthodontic issues before they become severe, painful or more expensive problems later on. Experts recommend a dental checkup as early as age 1 or when the first tooth erupts (whichever is first) and twice a year after that. All children should see the orthodontist by age 7 to screen for abnormal eruption or jaw development. 

Is it time for your child’s dental exam? Call Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan today to schedule!