Three Bad Habits of the Little One that Can Damage Their Teeth
Oleh: Morinaga Platinum
As parents, Dad and Mom will certainly always want to do and give their best for their children. Routinely consulting the doctor, serving nutritious food, and ensuring that the Little One participates in physical activities are some of the things that can be conducted to ensure that the child grows to become healthy. However, often the Little One conducts certain things that can eventually become a habit and negatively impact their health. For instance, sucking their fingers, biting their lips, or thrusting their tongue. These habits should be taken into consideration by parents, particularly if the Little One has already been doing it for a long time, as it can disrupt teeth growth and oral health.
The following are some methods that can be implemented by parents to manage the bad habits of the Little One:
Drinking Milk from the Bottle
Even though they still have milk teeth, this does not mean that the teeth of the Little One cannot have cavities. There are various causes of dental cavities, one of which is the habit of drinking milk from the bottle. How can drinking milk from the bottle lead to dental cavities? Cavities can occur after the Little One consumes sweet beverages such as milk using a bottle, with an incorrect method of provision, frequency, or intensity.
Generally, children have a habit of finishing their milk from the bottle just prior to sleeping. However, they should sleep right after their teeth have been cleaned, in order to ensure that there are no remains from food or beverages that can potentially attract germs that can erode the teeth enamel. Does the Little One often fall asleep while the milk has not been completely swallowed? This may also put them at risk of caries. If left untreated, caries can lead to pain that will make it difficult for the Little One to eat and chew.
- Avoid the provision of beverages using a bottle, particularly if it is a sweet beverage. Providing water in a cup is adequate.
- Get used to cleaning breast milk or milk remains in the oral cavity of the Little One prior to sleeping.
- Use a wet gauze to wipe the teeth and gums of the Little One after meals. This can help remove plaques and bacteria.
- Consult the doctor regarding the fluoride requirements of the Little One. Fluoride is highly beneficial to strengthen their tooth enamel.
Sucking fingers is a normal behaviour for babies and preschool-aged children. This activity does not increase the risk of problems in the oral cavity, at least until permanent teeth begin to grow. However, when permanent teeth begin to grow, usually at the age of 4 to 6 years, sucking fingers can affect the position of teeth and make it uneven. This may cause the Little One to experience chewing difficulties. “A majority of children will stop sucking their fingers at the age of 4 years, but if your child continues this habit after that age, then behavioural corrections should be conducted to avoid further damage,” explains Richard P. Dugas, DDS, a pediatric dentist from Bourne, Massachusetts.
There are three things that primarily determine the degree of severity of oral and dental issues due to the habit of sucking fingers, which are intensity, frequency, and duration of sucking.
It should be remembered that finger sucking during the oral phase is a normal behaviour. However, if the Little One still sucks their fingers after the age of 4 years, then parents are advised to help them stop by conducting the following:
- Find out the cause. Usually, the Little One sucks their fingers for comfort. Identify the daily habits of the Little One, including the way they adapt to their surrounding environment.
- Make the Little One stronger. Explain to them why they should stop this habit.
- Remind the Little One. Create an agenda or calendar that records the successfulness of the Little One to not suck their thumb.
- Reward them. Parents can give rewards such as praises or gifts that the Little One likes if they have successfully managed to get rid of their habit.
Parents can implement the following tricks to manage the finger sucking habits of the Little One if they still experience difficulties to stop it:
- Apply a bitter and harmless substance to the finger that is often sucked by the Little One. Many parents use the extract of brotowali plant, which is known for its bitterness, for this process. This extract is considered safe, as it is widely used in traditional medicine.
- Place one or two waterproof plasters on the fingers of the Little One.
- Use a thumb guard or finger guard.
If this habit still continues until the Little One is more than 7 years old, parents can work together with the dentist to stop this. The dentist can use an orthodontic device to prevent the fingers from touching the roof of the mouth, which inhibits the pleasure of finger sucking. This treatment is only conducted if the psychological approach methods are unsuccessful.
Tongue Thrusting refers to a habit of thrusting the tongue forward and pressing the teeth at rest, when speaking, or when swallowing. Swallowing while the position of the tongue is protruded outwards can cause the milk incisors to keep being pushed forward, towards the lips, causing their position to change. This habit may occur due to tonsil enlargement, breathing from the mouth, narrowed upper teeth arch, or psychological factors.
If the Little One has a habit of sticking out their tongue, consult a doctor immediately. The doctor can conduct a series of therapies and treatments, including controlling their bad habits, orthodontic measures, or surgery for more severe cases. Certainly, the Little One may not completely understand what is good or bad for their health. Therefore, parents should teach the Little One to perform healthy habits and conduct routine dental checks to avoid problems in the oral cavity and teeth.