Bad Dental Habits for Your Child’s Dental Health

Maintaining good dental health is crucial for overall well-being and vitality. By cultivating positive habits from an early age, parents have the power to establish the groundwork for a lifetime of radiant and healthy smiles. Unfortunately, there are some detrimental habits that can significantly affect dental health, particularly in children who are still establishing their oral hygiene practices. Here are the five worst habits for kids’ dental health.


This one may ring a bell for many parents. If you’ve noticed your child nibbling on their nails, it has implications beyond just the unsightly appearance of their nails.

Fingernails and toenails consist of a protein called keratin. When children chew and bite their nails, they subject their teeth to the task of biting through a hardened substance, leading to unnecessary wear and tear on their enamel. Over time, this can result in the development of chips and cracks in their teeth, compromising their dental health.

It’s important to consider that your child’s dentofacial structures grow and develop in sync with the rest of their body. By engaging in nail-biting habits, individuals inadvertently promote tooth displacement, potentially resulting in gaps and misalignments in their dental structure.

How to discourage nail-biting

Before anything else, it is crucial for parents to identify the root cause of their child’s nail-biting habit. Children who bite their nails can be stressed, anxious, or just plain bored. Once you identify the cause of the behavior, you can then introduce techniques such as breathing exercises, physical activities, or providing stress-relief tools like a stress ball or fidget toy. If these strategies prove ineffective for your child, it is advisable to consult with your child’s pediatrician for further guidance and support.


Similar to nail-biting habits, thumb-sucking can cause dental issues in children, such as gaps between teeth, overjet, or protrusion of teeth. Thumb-sucking habits can often stem from similar underlying reasons.

From infancy to toddlerhood, babies retain their innate rooting and sucking reflexes. Similar to how babies seek comfort through nursing, your child may calm themselves by sucking their thumb. This habit typically does not impact your child’s oral health until they reach the age of four, when their permanent teeth start to emerge.

How to discourage thumb-sucking

As with nail-biting, the best way to break your child’s thumb-sucking habit is by understanding what triggers it. If it’s due to boredom or stress, encourage your child to seek comfort in other activities such as reading a book or having conversations with you. You can also try providing distraction tools like coloring books and toys.

Not brushing and flossing every day

One of the most evident and crucial habits that can negatively impact dental health is the lack of regular brushing or flossing. Establishing a robust oral hygiene routine for your child is crucial for effectively removing food particles and plaque, ensuring their teeth remain clean and healthy.

Neglecting to brush and floss puts children at higher risk of cavities and gum disease, leading to pain, infection, and potential tooth loss. It’s crucial to prioritize oral hygiene to maintain dental health and overall well-being.

How to encourage brushing and flossing every day

Bribery is an effective way to encourage brushing and flossing in children! You can provide incentives such as stickers or small rewards like a toy for every time your child brushes and flosses.

Alternatively, you can also set up a tooth-brushing chart with everyone in the family, filling it out each day after brushing. Doing this allows everyone in the family to stay accountable and can foster a sense of collaboration and responsibility.

High-sugar diet

Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks poses a significant risk to your child’s dental health. It is crucial to be mindful of their intake and the potential impact on their teeth.

Consuming sugar fosters the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which in turn generates acid that erodes tooth enamel and contributes to the formation of cavities. Regular consumption of sugary foods and drinks places children at an increased vulnerability to tooth decay and other oral health issues. Ensuring your child’s well-being involves moderating sugary treats and promoting wholesome snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

How to encourage a healthy diet

Parents can lead by example and provide healthy meals to ensure a balanced diet. Additionally, you can stock your pantry with nutritious snacks like carrots and hummus or apples and peanut butter. These snacks are not only delicious but also an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that promote dental health.

You should also minimize sugary treats in the house and make sure that your children brush with toothpaste after consuming these items.

Not keeping regular dental checkups

Regular dental check-ups are vital for preserving your child’s radiant smile and overall oral health. Don’t overlook the significance of these routine appointments in ensuring a lifelong commitment to dental well-being! Regrettably, numerous children tend to shy away from dental visits, a habit that can have negative consequences. By avoiding these visits, your pediatric dentist is unable to identify and address dental issues at an early stage, which can significantly impact your child’s comfort and their smile. It is crucial to understand the importance of regular check-ups, as they play a vital role in maintaining optimal oral health and overall well-being.

Pediatric Dentistry by Southern Dental Associates

Our dedicated pediatric dentist, Dr. Chad Shobe, is committed to providing comprehensive dental care for children and young adults of all ages. With our experienced team, we strive to create a fun and comfortable environment that will keep your child motivated to come back for regular check-ups.

We understand the importance of nurturing trust with our patients—that’s why we take time to carefully explain every procedure and answer any questions you may have. Our office also offers a variety of preventive services including dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and more to help protect your child’s teeth from cavities and other serious dental conditions.

At Southern Dental Associates, we believe that a lifetime of healthy smiles starts at an early age! So don’t hesitate to book an appointment for your child today. We look forward to meeting you and your family!

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