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  • Writer's pictureDr. Malone

Top 5 Worst Habits for Your Child’s Dental Health

Dental health is an important part of overall health. By instilling good habits early on, we can create a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Unfortunately, there are also bad habits that can have a big impact on dental health, especially for children who are still developing their oral hygiene routines. Here are the 5 worst habits for kids’ dental health:

1. Not brushing and flossing every day The most obvious and most important habit that can harm dental health is not brushing or flossing regularly! Having a strong oral hygiene routine in place for your child is critical for removing food particles and plaque. Children who skip brushing and flossing are more likely to have cavities and are at a risk of developing gum disease, which can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss.


If you need tips on best tooth brushing techniques or advice on how to encourage your child to floss, we’ve got you covered!


2. Thumb-sucking Thumb-sucking can lead to problems with your child’s teeth, including gapped teeth, overjet, or protruding teeth. Babies have natural sucking reflexes that follow them into toddlerhood. And just like babies sometimes nurse for comfort, your child is keeping themselves calm by sucking their thumb. This habit doesn’t pose a threat to your child’s oral health until after age 4 as their permanent teeth will soon begin emerging.

We are happy to discuss techniques to help your child with their thumb sucking habit.

3. Nail-biting

Many parents may be familiar with this one! If you’ve been catching your child nibbling away or their nails, it affects more than just the appearance of their nails. Fingernails and toenails are made of hardened keratin. When your child chews and bites off their nails, they’re forcing their teeth to bite through a hardened substance, causing unnecessary wear and tear to their enamel. Over time this can lead to chips and cracks in their teeth.

Also take into account that your child’s dentofacial structures are growing and developing along with the rest of their body. By biting their nails, they’re also encouraging tooth movement which can lead to gaps and malocclusions.

How to discourage nail-biting: First and foremost, parents need to discover what’s triggering their nail-biting habit. Many children can be stressed, anxious, or just plain bored. Once the trigger behind the behavior is found, you can teach them breathing techniques, exercises, or offer them a stress ball or fidget toy. If these methods don’t work for your child, talk to us or your child’s pediatrician for more guidance.

4. High Sugar Diet

Sugary foods and drinks can be a serious threat to your kid’s dental health, especially when they eat or drink them frequently! Sugar feeds the bacteria in the mouth that produce acid which can erode tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Children who consume sugary foods and drinks regularly are at a higher risk of tooth decay and other dental problems. It’s important to limit sugary treats and encourage healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables for your child.

5. Not keeping regular dental checkups

Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining your child’s healthy smile! Unfortunately, many children avoid them. This habit can be harmful as it prevents dentists from detecting and treating dental problems early on which can make a world of difference in your child’s comfort level and their smile. Children who miss dental check ups are at a higher risk of developing cavities, gum disease, and other oral conditions.


Dentistry for Kids is dedicated to helping your child feel welcome and comfortable at every visit. As parents, you’re part of your child’s dental healthcare team as well, so we encourage you to help them keep their regular dental check-ups for optimal oral health.

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