Habits can seem innocent at first. After all, what child doesn’t suck their thumb when they’re young? Although things like thumb sucking and nail biting can seem harmless at first, these habits can really impact your child’s development. Most often, kids will grow out of certain habits, and the sooner they do this the better, especially for the health of their teeth and gums. Are your kids’ habits messing up their teeth and increasing the possibility that they will need braces or Invisalign?
Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use
The long-term effects of thumb sucking and pacifier use are telling, as these habits have shown to have many harmful effects on the teeth. Many times, thumb sucking and pacifier use can result in problems developing in the mouth including:
- Jaw shape and alignment
- Misaligned front teeth
Although many children take part in these habits, most will break them by the time their permanent teeth have erupted. For those who don’t, taking measures to stop these habits is essential to your child’s oral development. You may try placing a glove over your child’s hand or implementing a reward system every time they don’t use their pacifier to help them kick these habits.
Teeth Grinding and Nail Biting
Many kids grind their teeth, especially while they sleep. If you notice this is the case for your child, you may want to consider having them wear a night guard to help them break the habit and reduce the risk of harming their teeth as well.
Although seemingly harmless, nail biting can wreak havoc on your child’s teeth. Harmful effects of nail biting include:
- Misalignment of the teeth
- Breaking teeth
- Damaging enamel
To help them stop biting their nails, try having your child wear gloves or coat their nails in a solution that makes them taste bad.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Your child may be tired at the end of the day or rushing to get to school on time in the mornings, which can result in them skipping their oral hygiene routine. Poor oral hygiene can have harmful consequences, like cavities and gum disease. Be sure your child understands the importance of making oral hygiene a part of their everyday routine. If need be, have them wake up a few minutes earlier or start getting ready for bed sooner, so they can be sure to brush and floss correctly.
Too Much Sugar
You may think that your child opting for juice over soda is good practice; however, most juices are loaded with sugar…sometimes more than soda! Sugar is the main culprit when it comes to tooth decay, so limiting it is advised. Too much sugar has harmful effects, not just on the teeth, but the whole body as well, including the development of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
So, when it comes to the habits your child has adopted, think twice about letting them continue. Avoid problems with the health of your child’s smile by helping them break these habits early. With positive reinforcement, you can help your child kick these habits, and they can have a healthier smile for life.