Grosse Pointe & Shelby Township


Common Bad Habits that Damage Dental Health for Kids

A dentist teaching a parent and her daughter about dental health for kids.

Do you take perfect care of your oral health? If so, chances are you built those habits all the way back when you were young! Now that you have your own child, it’s important to teach good habits to them too. Dental health for kids is critical to start them off with a healthy mouth and to avoid preventable short-term or long-term damage to their teeth and gums.

Read on to learn about the worst habits that impact dental health for kids and tips to establish a healthy oral care routine.

Late-Night Feeding After Their First Tooth

Feeding infants doesn’t always work on a set schedule. When they’re hungry, they want it now and they’ll let you know it! However, when their first tooth erupts, feeding around bedtime is just as problematic as it can be for adults.

Breastmilk, milk or anything else that contains sugars can be an issue due to what’s known as “bottle mouth.” These sugars will stay on their teeth through the night, feeding bacteria in the mouth and wearing away at the enamel of their new teeth.

While they will eventually replace these with adult teeth later in life, this can also instill bad habits that will lead them to damage their permanent teeth as well.

Swallowing Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride is a major ally in the battle against cavities. But it’s not necessarily safe for children who can’t stop themselves from swallowing toothpaste as they brush. Fluorosis, a condition caused by ingesting high levels of fluoride, can have negative effects on your child’s health.

That doesn’t mean you need to avoid toothpaste! While it’s a good idea to use just a toothbrush and water in their earlier years, your child can use non-fluoridated toothpaste until they’re able to brush without swallowing consistently.

This will help them learn how to brush properly, get the extra cleaning help from toothpaste and avoid issues with fluoride all at once!

Thumb Sucking

Most children will suck on their thumbs for some part of their early childhood. As they grow older, this habit can turn from an adorable childhood behavior into a major dental care risk! The pressure that thumb sucking puts on new teeth can push them out of their natural and healthy alignment.

In many cases, this means that teeth will grow crooked. Crooked teeth are more than a cosmetic issue, they affect the dental health for kids and adults of any age! Serious issues in how the roof of the mouth develops can also arise.

Parents should make a dedicated effort to stop thumb sucking if it prolongs past the earliest years of childhood.

Using Teeth as Tools

Teeth aren’t indestructible, though sometimes it may feel like it! Grinding, chomping and chewing are all fine – if it’s being done to eat healthy foods. When children use their teeth to open packages, bottles or carry heavy objects, however, they’re doing permanent damage!

This tip isn’t just about dental health for kids, either. It applies to adults too! But for children, the early damage caused by trauma to the teeth or gums from using their mouth as a tool can have lasting effects.

Drinking from Sippy Cups with Sugary Drinks

It’s a big deal for parents and children when you get to graduate them from using a bottle. Sippy cups are great for offering some autonomy to children when drinking, without worrying about huge spills.

Child drinking from a sippy cup

What you put in that sippy cup makes a big difference! You should try to stick to primarily water, though milk can be a good option too. When you put juices in sippy cups, the sugars in them will renew their assault on your child’s teeth with every sip. If they sip at their juice over the course of an hour, it’s significantly worse than drinking the same juice in half the time.

Be conservative with how much juice you let your child drink and monitor their training cup habits. If they haven’t finished their juice after a reasonable amount of time, take it away and swap it for water to help rinse their mouth.

Nail Biting

Stress can get the best of us all, even children. Nail biting is more common than you may believe, and it’s also more damaging than you may know! In addition to being harmful for the nails, chewing them can wear away enamel from your teeth.

Bruxism is also linked to excessive nail biting. Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. It happens both during the day and unconsciously while you sleep. Over time, grinding will wear away at the surface of your child’s teeth and leave them extremely vulnerable to cavities.

Schedule an Appointment for Your Child Today!

Pointe Dental Group can provide you with a complete examination, answer your questions, and discuss your treatment options. Schedule an appointment with us today! New patients can receive FREE comprehensive exam and consultation, plus a full panoramic x-ray with a paid cleaning procedure (a $200 value)!


Grosse Pointe Farms: (313) 881-2480

Shelby Township: (586) 803-8300


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