As a parent, you want to do what’s right for your child. Yet, sometimes what seems beneficial can actually be a bad idea. The following are four common habits that can actually put a child’s teeth at risk for tooth decay and gum loss.
Many parents are surprised to learn that tooth decay has made a comeback, and one unlikely culprit is bottled water. With concern over the safety of tap water, many parents have switched to bottled water for their children. Yet, because bottled water typically doesn’t contain fluoride, it can lead to increased risk of tooth decay. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, children who did not drink tap water were found to have measurably higher rates of decayed tooth surfaces. If your child doesn’t drink fluoridated water, it’s important to discuss fluoride supplementation with your dentist.
Fruit juice is often thought of as a nutrient-packed alternative to soda. While some juices have concentrated amounts of nutrients, they also contain high amounts of sugar which can harm children’s teeth. Sugar is consumed by bacteria in the mouth and converted into acid which wears away tooth enamel, irritates gum tissue and can cause cavities. Reducing the amount of juice your child drinks can lower the levels of bacteria on teeth, preventing this cycle which can eventually lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
As most parents know, getting children to brush their teeth can be a challenge. Although the frequency in which children brush their teeth is important, so is the toothbrushing technique. Aggressive brushing, especially with a hard bristle toothbrush, can damage gums and tooth enamel. For children, a smarter choice is a toothbrush with flexible, rubber bristles that are effective at cleaning teeth and gums but don’t abrade gentle tissues and surfaces.
We associate a white smile with good health. Yet, whitening toothpastes can actually wear down tooth enamel. Because tooth enamel doesn’t rejuvenate, these products are especially detrimental for children. With many decades ahead of toothbrushing, it’s important to use a gentle toothpaste that protects enamel. Your best option is to look for a product with the ADA seal of approval formulated specifically for children.