Top 10 Myths About Children’s Teeth
- Baby teeth aren’t important. They’re just going to fall out anyway.
It is true that none of your child’s 20 baby teeth will survive into their teenage years. But if you want those 32 permanent teeth to come in shiny and straight, it’s absolutely essential to take care of their predecessors.
Baby teeth aren’t here to stay, but they’re extremely important while they are here. They serve as natural spacers for the permanent teeth. If one is lost too early, before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, the other teeth could come in crooked or cause crowding. Additionally, if a baby tooth has decay, it can pass the bacteria to the permanent tooth below, causing it to decay before it even breaks the surface.
Not only does it spread to the permanent tooth, but it can also spread to the rest of the body via saliva and their gum tissue, causing a slew of long-term health consequences.
- My child has cavities because he has soft teeth.
We’re not exactly sure where this one started, but there is no such thing as “soft teeth.” Everyone’s teeth are coated in enamel, the hardest substance in the human body. Cavities occur when bacteria eat away at the teeth to create little holes. Once a hole is formed, it becomes infinitely harder to reach the bacteria hiding out in the hole, so the problem increasingly worsens.
- My child can brush their own teeth.
We all can’t wait for the day that our child can get ready for bed on their own (and hopefully do so willingly!). Unfortunately, that day is a long way off. It’s not a matter of intelligence or how gifted your child is. It’s simply because kids lack the manual dexterity needed to brush all of their teeth thoroughly until about age 6 or 7. As a general rule, children don’t develop this dexterity until they can write in cursive. Until then, the primary responsibility for their clean teeth falls to the parents.
- I don’t need to take my child to the dentist. He only has 2 teeth!
How can he have bad oral hygiene when he’s all gums?! Believe it or not, oral hygiene begins almost immediately after birth. Even before you see a sign of their first tooth, you should be wiping their gums with a wet piece of gauze. After that, it’s on to a wet toothbrush and then fluoridated toothpaste.
A child’s first visit to the dentist should be right around their 1st birthday. More than likely – if you’ve been doing a good job with their oral hygiene so far – it’ll just be a short and informal dentist appointment. The dentist will take a look around, warn you about any potential problem areas, possibly clean their teeth, and answer any questions you may have.
Habits form early, so it’s better to get your child into the twice a year routine from the very beginning.
- My child won’t drink plain water.
They will, and they should. It’s tempting to add flavor or hand them an “all-natural” juice box, but any drink other than water is likely to contain some amount of sugar – the favored meal of cavity-causing bacteria. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends young kids should drink no more than 4 to 6 ounces (or the equivalent of one cup) per day. It’s also better for your child to drink the juice with a meal and opt for water between meals.
- My child needs a bottle to go to sleep.
Not only is sugar bad for their teeth in general, but the consequences worsen the longer their teeth are exposed to the sugar. If a child falls asleep with a bottle, their teeth are being attacked by the bacteria that feed on sugar for the entire time they’re sleeping, likely leading to Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.
If they absolutely need a bottle at bedtime, fill it with water. The better alternative, though, is to let them cry it out for a few nights and adjust to falling asleep without the bottle.
- Bottled water is just as good for my child’s teeth as tap water.
You’re a step in the right direction! Water is the best choice for your child. But if you’re opting for the easy-to-grab, convenient option of bottled water, you might just be missing out on one important ingredient – fluoride.
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant to acids and bacteria. Most bottled water doesn’t contain a trace of fluoride, but there are some options that do.
- My child doesn’t need to bother with flossing until his permanent teeth come in.
As soon as your child has two teeth that are touching, he needs to start flossing. The areas that are harder to reach with a brush are the areas that bacteria prefer to live in. By simply relying on brushing, he’s missing out on cleaning almost 35% of the tooth’s surface.
- It’s okay for my child to suck his thumb.
It is – until about kindergarten. Then it’s time to break free from the habit. Around this time, the front permanent teeth will be coming in, and you don’t want any added pressure to the teeth forcing them out of their natural positions. It’ll be a battle, but it’s well worth it.
- My child is prone to cavities because of his genetics.
Too often parents assume their children just inherited their bad teeth, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Genetics does have some influence on dental health, but it’s relatively small. In fact, almost 100% of cavities can be prevented.
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