The parents that come to our Brooklyn pediatric dental office know a lot about their kids’ teeth and oral health. We’re always impressed with their knowledge! However, there are still some misconceptions floating around. Here are six of the myths we hear most often:
1. Baby teeth don’t matter. They’ll just fall out anyway.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. A child’s primary teeth play a number of important roles, including helping them chew and speak properly, and aiding in their facial development. They also save space for the permanent teeth to come in correctly. If a baby tooth is lost due to injury or decay before its natural time, the teeth around it have a tendency to shift, which can block out permanent teeth, causing them to come in crooked or become impacted. Additionally, having a healthy smile gives little ones confidence. Plus, cavities are painful and they’ll need to be treated whether a child has their primary teeth or permanent teeth.
2. You don’t need to start brushing kids’ teeth until they have a full set.
You can actually start caring for your baby’s smile before they even have teeth by wiping down their gums with a moistened piece of gauze after feedings. It’s recommended that you start brushing baby’s teeth as soon as their first tooth erupts using a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste (no more than the size of a grain of rice). Brush twice a day even if they only have one or two teeth.
If a child has a tooth, they can experience tooth decay, which is why, aside from brushing, it’s also important not to put them to bed with a bottle of anything aside from water. Even formula or breast milk can lead to baby bottle tooth decay. This is because the sugars will sit on your baby’s teeth and at night saliva production slows down, so it’s not washed away.
3. It isn’t necessary for young children to floss.
Yes, getting kids to floss can be super challenging but it’s worth it. Flossing is a major part of oral hygiene for kids because it removes plaque and food debris that you can’t reach with a toothbrush and keeps their teeth and gums healthy. You can start flossing a baby’s teeth once a day as soon as any two teeth are touching.
4. Kids will be fine going to a general dentist.
While we’re sure there are general dentists who are comfortable treating kids and do a great job, a pediatric dentist completes years of additional specialty training after dental school. They have the experience and knowledge to address kids’ unique oral health needs and they also learn behavioral techniques to help little ones relax and get the care they need. Pediatric dental offices like Bitesize Pediatric Dentistry are designed just for kids with bright colors, fun activities and, of course, prizes. When kids like going to the dentist, it makes things easier for both of you and sets the stage for a good relationship with dental visits that they will carry with them throughout life.
5. If a baby sucks their thumb or uses a pacifier, it will ruin their smile.
Sucking is a natural reflex in babies. In fact, some babies even suck their thumb or fingers in the womb. Pacifier use is also completely natural and fine for newborns and infants. In fact, it’s thought to reduce the risk of SIDS. Pacifier use also happens to be an easier habit to break than thumb sucking since you can just take the pacifier away.
Most little ones stop sucking on their thumb or pacifier on their own between the ages of two and four. However, it can be a concern if the habit continues past the age of four as it can cause changes in the roof of the mouth and issues with the alignment of the teeth and jaws. If you’re worried about your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use, let us know and we can help give you guidance.
6. Fruit juice in a sippy cup won’t hurt my little one’s teeth.
Of course, fruit juice isn’t the enemy. In fact, drinking four to six ounces of 100% fruit juice a day doesn’t seem to be tied to early childhood cavities based on some studies. However, pretty much any drink besides water, including juice, milk, sports drinks and soda has sugar. The bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and starches and release acids that can cause cavities. This is why it’s best to make sure kids are drinking primarily water.
Believe it or not, it’s actually more about how kids are drinking that can really be a concern for their teeth. Giving kids juice in sippy cup to drink slowly throughout the day means they’re constantly bathing their teeth in the liquid. Instead, if you do offer kids juice or milk, give it to them with a meal or a snack and have them drink it one sitting. This lets the mouth’s pH return to normal to neutralize plaque acids instead of resetting the clock with each sip.
If you ever have questions about dental health or oral hygiene for kids, we’re always happy to help. We pride ourselves on not only making dental visits fun and positive for kids, but also in educating children and parents about all things oral health. Schedule your child’s visit at Bitesize Pediatric Dentistry today!