We Put 7 of the Best Paediatric Dental Myths to Rest
It has to be said…
Just because everyone says so doesn’t make it so!
Your child’s teeth are vitally important, so it’s imperative you learn fact from fiction. This can be difficult, when well-meaning friends and family members offer not-so-factually correct advice (dental myths, frankly)!
So let’s put these seven common paediatric dental myths to rest so you can be confident you’re doing the right thing for your young one – whether they are a baby, tiny tot or child.
Myth #1: It doesn’t matter, baby teeth fall out anyway.
Fact: Damaged baby teeth may cause multiple problems, along with alignment issues with adult teeth.
This idea is flawed on several levels. If your child’s baby teeth become severely decayed, they may have to be removed, which can affect the spacing in their mouth. Without baby teeth acting as ‘space holders’, the adult teeth may not have enough room to push through in correct alignment. Consequently, the adult teeth may become crowded or crooked.
And let’s also ask: why did the child develop cavities at such a young age? ‘Lifestyle choices” is usually the answer – choosing soft drinks, choosing sugary foods. These choices soon become habits, which are hard to break later in life.
Cavities can also be painful, and no one wants their child to suffer from toothache or a sore mouth which makes eating and talking difficult. So look after those baby teeth!
Myth #2: My tot is too tiny for a dentist chair!
Fact: The size of your child has no bearing on the importance of their dental visit.
So you have a tiny tot? That’s okay (and it’s no excuse!); if you’re baby or child is little, you can hold them on your lap. Besides, being safe for mum’s lap can be a comfortable and reassuring introduction to the dental clinic.
Myth #3: My child doesn’t have enough teeth for the dentist.
Fact: your child usually has some teeth by 12 months; if not, their dental visit is still important for many reasons.
Your child’s first dental visit is not just about checking teeth. Becoming acclimatised to a dentist, checking oral health, educating parent on foods and home hygiene and managing behavioural issues are all an essential part of your child’s first visit to the dentist.
Myth #4: There is no need for dental check-ups until kids go to school.
Fact: Early dental check-ups will help prevent your child develop cavities.
We encourage everyone to follow guidelines set about by the Australian Dental Association (and other paediatric dental associations) which clearly states that the first visit should be around the age of 12 months. Early dental check-ups will help prevent your child develop cavities.
Myth #5: Kids don’t need to floss.
Fact: Every individual who has teeth needs to floss. Flossing can clean up to 80% of your tooth’s surface.
No matter what your age, flossing is essential. Cavities can easily form in between the teeth if not flossed, because plaque and tartar can build up, causing problems with the gums and tooth enamel. But don’t leave flossing for your little ones to grapple alone – those tiny fingers don’t have the dexterity for such a tricky task. Instead, Mum or Dad should floss their child’s teeth as soon as the teeth appear until the child is approximately 12 years old.
Myth #6: All kids get cavities; they’re part of life.
Fact: Cavities are almost entirely preventable and should not be ‘ part of life’.
With proper care, most children should not develop cavities and experience undue suffering and poor health. In New South Wales, our children’s dental health situation is at crisis point. Way too many children are developing cavities. 40% of New South Wales children up to the age of five have had tooth decay, and preventable dental issues are the number one reason for hospitalisation in New South Wales.
Myth #7: Fruit juices are healthy and hence fine for teeth.
Fact: Some natural fruit juices like orange juice may be just as damaging as colas for teeth.
Fruit juice contains just as much sugar as soft drinks, so they are not good for teeth or a child’s diet. Additionally, lemonade, orange and apple juice are quite acidic, which can harm tooth enamel, while the sugar also feeds bacteria. If you do give your children fruit juice occasionally, try to encourage them to drink through a straw – and rinse their mouth with water afterwards.
NWPD: “5 reasons your baby needs checkup at 12 months”:
ADA: When should my child first see the dentist?