Being a new parent can be overwhelming, and it isn't always easy to know what to do. Unfortunately, as you find your way, you might be unintentionally damaging your child's teeth. Here are three parenting mistakes that might cause trouble, and what you can do if you have already developed a few bad habits.
1: Giving Too Much Fluoride
To promote healthy tooth growth and to reinforce existing enamel, many pediatric dentists recommend giving your child a fluoride supplement. Unfortunately, some parents don't keep a watchful eye on the nightly dose that their give their kids, or forget all about the fluoride already present in their toothpaste or water. Although it might not seem like a big deal to give your kid a little extra fluoride, the fact of the matter is that it can cause permanent damage to their teeth.
If your child receives too much fluoride as their teeth form under their gums, they can develop a condition called fluorosis, which causes the teeth to form bright white spots. Fluorosis can also cause dark brown spots and pitting, creating an uneven and unsightly appearance.
Kids who are between the ages of 1-4 are at the highest risk for developing fluorosis, but you might be able to fend off problems by being smart about their fluoride intake. Because municipal water supplies are frequently fluoridated, find out the concentration in your area before you start giving your child extra fluoride. Experts recommend skipping the supplement if your water has a fluoride concentration over 0.7 mg/L or more. If your water concentration is in check, don't brush your child's teeth with more toothpaste than you should, and follow fluoride supplement directions to the letter.
2: Putting Your Child To Bed with a Bottle
If you are like most parents, you might dread putting your baby down to bed. To fend off screaming fits and to help your baby to drift off to sleep peacefully, many parents put their child to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. Although it might seem like a harmless practice, that steady stream of liquid will bathe their teeth with sugar all throughout the night, which can cause serious tooth decay.
Baby bottle tooth decay usually affects the front teeth, but it can extend throughout your child's entire mouth. After teeth have started to decay, bacteria can run rampant through your child's mouth and cause painful abscesses. To keep your kid safe, your pediatric dentist might be forced to pull destroyed teeth, or drill away damage and cover them with caps.
Fortunately, you might be able to help your child to avoid these extensive dental repairs by never putting them to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or another sugary liquid. If your child insists on going to sleep holding a bottle, fill it with water. They might have a hard time adjusting to the change at first, but it will help them to avoid painful dental problems later.
3: Late Pacifier Use
If you are like most people, you probably offer your kid a pacifier whenever they start to get fussy. Although this practice is traditionally recommended by pediatricians, letting your child enjoy that gummy device longer than they should could cause dental problems.
If kids are allowed to use pacifiers well into their kindergarten years, their front teeth might start to tip forward to mold around their pacifier, permanently altering the location of their adult teeth. To prevent issues, most pediatricians recommend weaning your child off of their binky when they are about a year old.
By understanding how your actions can affect your child's teeth, you might be able to change your ways and prevent frustrating issues. For more information, be sure to contact a local pediatric dentist.