4 Childhood Habits That Could Lead to Long-Term Tooth Issues

4 Childhood Habits That Could Lead to Long-Term Tooth Issues
Posted on 12/15/2020

Baby's habitsWhen babies are born, one area parents become concerned about is the mouth. Parents monitor a child's mouth for milestones like the growth of a first tooth, but as soon as teeth pop up, dental health should become a priority. Every child is different, but some common habits can lead to major changes and problems in the mouth.

Learn about the habits, problems that can occur, and how those problems can lead to lifelong ailments in the mouth and jaw.

1. Extended Pacifier Use

When a child is first born, they often seek the comfort and shape of a pacifier because of the similarity to a mother's breast. Unfortunately, the use of a pacifier can create an attachment issue that goes on for far longer than the child needs. When teeth first appear in a baby's mouth, you want to transition the child off the pacifier.

The main nipple of the pacifier can shape the jaw and teeth and form a sensation known as pacifier teeth. The pacifier will cause an open gap in the front teeth on both the top and bottom. The teeth may not touch and some areas may have crowded teeth.

As a child starts growing adult teeth, you may need corrective procedures to help reshape the jaw and prevent lifelong problems. The transition process may seem hard at first, but you can try different methods to help a child cope. Some parents rely on a Binkie Fairy to come and collect the pacifiers in exchange for a present or treat.

If you turn the experience positive, you can help speed up the transition and avoid major dental problems. During your child's first dentist appointment, a dentist can use physical exams and x-rays to see early signs of pacifier mouth. A dentist can also explain the need to stop the pacifier habits directly to a child so they get a perspective from a different adult.

2. Thumb-Sucking

As you transition away from the pacifier, your child may develop a habit of thumb-sucking. As adult teeth form in the mouth, excessive thumb-sucking can result in an overbite. The two front teeth often get pushed outward and can create a misalignment of the jaw in a similar style as a pacifier.

Another area a dentist will look at is the roof of a child's mouth. The suction sensation and pressure from thumb-sucking can cause the roof to malform. The misshapen roof of the mouth could have an impact on the jaw alignment and future growth of teeth.

Like the pacifier, thumb-sucking is a tough habit to break, especially because you have no objects to take away like the pacifier. If the habit does not stop, then you can seek out the installation of a tongue crib. The dental device is installed in the roof of the mouth and prevents the suction created from thumb-sucking.

A tongue crib is usually the last step after you've tried multiple methods including multiple dental appointments.

3. Chewing Toys & Objects

For many toddlers, toy use is focused more on chewing rather than playing. If your child is constantly putting items in their mouth, then you may have some dental concerns. While some teething toys are made for chewing, the toys are manufactured for children who do not yet have teeth.

When a child begins chewing through plastic and other materials, multiple problems may occur. One of the biggest concerns is the loss of a tooth or an impacted tooth. If a child is chewing on a toy or slams a hard toy into their teeth, then they could physically push baby teeth up into their jaw.

The impacted teeth could push on emerging adult teeth or cause jaw damage. In many cases, the impacted teeth would need extraction by a dentist so the jaw can heal and the adult teeth can properly grow in.

Chewing hard objects could also lead to chipped or worn down teeth. If tooth enamel gets worn down, a child may become more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay.

4. Bottle and Sippy Cup Use

Baby bottles feature similar problems as pacifiers if children rely on them too much, but the use of bottles and sippy cups can create additional problems. When the drinking cups are used for a long time, the sugars found in drinks like juice and milk will stay on the teeth and create conditions where tooth decay occurs.

Try to transition your child to a regular cup at a young age. The liquids will move past the teeth and you can avoid the onset of cavities. Even though children will lose their baby teeth, you do not want an onset of cavities to create bad dental habits down the line or result in a pulled tooth before an adult tooth can form.

The professionals at Dentistry for Children & Adolescents will provide you with tips and tricks to break all of the habits and ensure your child has a healthy smile. Contact us to set up an appointment or to discuss any concerns you have.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
  • Burnsville Office - 14050 Nicollet Ave., Suite 100, Burnsville, MN 55337 Phone: 952-435-4102
  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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