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2 Childhood Habits That Negatively Affect Teeth And How To Discourage Them

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Children often develop habits that may be detrimental to their oral health. Here are several negative childhood habits that can affect the teeth and measures you can take to discourage them:

Sucking the Thumb

Some children suck their thumb from infancy forward. The habit, which can be soothing to child, can also be detrimental to the proper development of a youngster's teeth and palate.

The thumb can place continual pressure on the upper palate and the front the teeth. Over time, the front teeth can begin to protrude forward, presenting a bucked appearance. The pressure from the thumb may also cause the teeth to become gapped. 

The misalignment that results from thumb-sucking can often be corrected orthodontically, but it can be avoided if the practice is stopped early enough.

Here are a few ways to help your child overcome thumb-sucking:

  1. Keep his or her hands busy with small toys and other interesting objects. It is difficult for a little one to engage in thumb-sucking when the child's small fingers are already occupied.
  2. Allow your child to snack on crunchy fruits and vegetables. The healthy foods help keep his or her little mouth filled, so there is no room for a thumb.
  3. Offer praise for every episode without thumb-sucking. Praise positively reinforces the desired action without demeaning your little one. Additionally, it is often the most satisfying reward for a child. 
  4. Take your child's thumb from the little one's mouth after he or she falls asleep. Some children continue to suck their thumb as they sleep. Removing the thumb can help your child become accustomed to not having it in his or her mouth.

Candy Consumption

Children love sweet treats, and few kids readily refuse an offer of candy. However, candy fills the mouth with sugar that is used to feed oral bacteria.

The bacteria release acid after feeding, which causes tooth decay. Thus, it is important to lessen your child's consumption of sweets, such as candy. In order to help your child break his or her candy habit, give the child a healthier alternative, such as sugar-free gum.

Sugarless gum is sweet, but it doesn't promote tooth decay. In fact, it helps pull plaque and bacteria from the teeth. Additionally, gum that includes certain ingredients, such as xylitol or cinnamon, may also be antimicrobial.

To learn more ways to help protect your child's oral health, visit a pediatric dentist in your area. Click here for additional info.