Good & Bad Dental Habits for Kids

young girl smiling

It’s never too soon to start building good dental habits with your kids. Why? Because poor dental habits easily slip into the routines of children and their parents if they’re not careful. Every once and awhile, we all need a reminder about the best habits to build, as well as the ones we need to avoid.

At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental of Reno, we love brightening and maintaining our young patient’s smiles. Sometimes, that’s done through procedures like dental sealants or composite fillings. Other times, it’s done through educating and assisting our patients and their parents in building good dental habits. If you start them now, you’ve got an excellent chance they’ll last for a lifetime.

Here are ten quick, easy-to-remember tips to help build outstanding oral hygiene:

Good Dental Habits: Start With A Pediatric Dentist Early

The best habit you could possibly build for your child is to get them to the pediatric dentist early in life. How early? When baby’s first tooth erupts from the gums, you should call the pediatric dentist within six months. Start your child at the dentist when they’re young, and you’ll begin a good dental habit that will reap benefits for a lifetime.

Bad Dental Habits: Constant Use Of A Sippy Cup

pink sippy cup

When your child has trouble settling at bedtime, or when they’re needing to be pacified during the day, it’s tempting to simply stick a bottle in their mouth. However, using a sippy cup in these ways not only builds a bad habit, but overuse of a sippy cup can train the mouth to produce less saliva, which can ultimately lead to cavities. Sippy cup use isn’t harmful in and of itself, just make sure that it’s only used for drinking and not as a supplemental pacifier.

Good Dental Habit: Replace Old Toothbrushes

As your child grows and begins to use their own toothbrush without your help, make sure they know when their toothbrush should be replaced. A good rule of thumb is to replace a toothbrush every three months or even sooner if the brush shows sign of significant wear. If your child uses an old, tattered brush, they may be spreading nearly as much bacteria in their mouth as they clean out!

Bad Dental Habit: Sucking Their Thumb

Admit it, a thumb-sucking child is cute! However, for their long-term oral care, they should be discouraged from sucking their thumb. Before a child’s permanent teeth come in, they’re unlikely to do any long term damage. However, if they continue to suck their thumb once their adult teeth emerge, thumb-sucking can cause them to shift from their proper positions. This could mean the need for braces or other orthodontics when they grow older.

Good Dental Habit: Use Flouride

Fluoride is a natural cavity fighter. If your municipality does not fluoridate your water, make sure you buy a toothpaste that has fluoride added to it. Either way, teach your child that fluoride is their friend and that it can strengthen their teeth.

Bad Dental Habit: Swallowing Toothpaste

Some toothpastes have fun flavors that taste great. Unfortunately, some children love the flavor a bit too much. If your child swallows a trace amount of paste once in a while, it’s not an issue. However, if they are consistently swallowing the toothpaste instead of spitting it out, they may end up ingesting too much fluoride (especially if your water is already fluoridated). Most of the time, you can discourage kids from swallowing toothpaste by ensuring they only squeeze a pea-sized amount onto their toothbrush.

Good Dental Habit: Flossing Once A Day

Teaching a child to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time is fairly routine. However, training your child to floss once a day is an important skill that many children (and adults!) neglect. To help smaller children floss more easily, consider purchasing floss picks instead of using floss from a box. The floss picks are pre-strung, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive. The good dental habit they build, however, will be priceless.

Bad Dental Habit: Gnawing On Nails

We all know that chewing on nails is a bad habit, but it seems harmless. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Not only is it bad for your child’s nails, but it may develop into a condition known as bruxism, which is unintended grinding of the teeth. Over time, bruxism can cause extreme pain to the teeth and jaws. Encourage your child through a reward system to keep from chewing on their nails (or their pencils or even their hair!).

Good Dental Habit: Keep Routine Checkups

empty dentist’s chair

Once your child has visited a pediatric dentist, make sure they maintain their six-month dental checkups. This preventative care is vital since the pediatric dentist will thoroughly clean your child’s teeth and gums in a way that brushing and flossing alone can’t accomplish. What’s the best way to ensure you don’t forget to schedule your kid’s checkups? Before you leave the office from your child’s teeth cleaning, make sure you schedule their next six-month appointment.

Bad Dental Habit: Chewing Ice

Crunching on ice can be satisfying, especially on a hot summer day. However, when you crunch on ice, your ultimately doing a disservice to your teeth. That’s because the hard ice can wear down your enamel over time. This will eventually cause temporary tooth sensitivity or, even worse, more permanent damage. Although your child may chew ice their entire life and never have an issue, dentists agree it’s not a chance worth taking.

Good Dental Habits Start At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental

If you live in Reno or the surrounding area, the best thing you can do for your child’s smile is to schedule a consultation with the doctors at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental. With many locations to serve your family, we’re sure to have an appointment available. Whether you have dental insurance or you’re paying out-of-pocket, our professional staff will help your child be seen quickly. Call us today at (775) 800-4117 to schedule your appointment.

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