Worrying comes with the territory of parenthood. Ask me how I know.
As a new parent, I invested in every gadget and gizmo that promised to be the one thing my baby needed to stay healthy and safe. The well-being of this precious new life that slept peacefully on my chest was nearly the only thing on my mind. Can you relate?
We go to great lengths and lose much sleep to ensure our children are safe and healthy, sometimes to the point of causing ourselves anxiety.
Let me take one worry off your mind, new moms and dad.
It is possible to raise kids who don’t experience the pain of cavities or lengthy time in braces. And believe it or not, straight teeth and healthy teeth are inextricably intertwined. Habits that will help your child avoid braces will also keep cavities away- it’s a win-win!
Here are five easy habits you can implement with your babies and toddlers to help them avoid cavities and braces as older children and teenagers.
Invest in your breastfeeding journey.
In your baby’s very first minutes of life, you have the opportunity to help establish a healthy mouth for healthy teeth later on. Breastfeeding is essential to helping form a broad roof of mouth- the pressure that baby uses with the tongue against the palate to express milk also flattens and widens the palate at the same time. This broadening and flattening allows the baby teeth to come in evenly spaced so that the adult teeth can do the same. While breastfeeding your baby does not guarantee an absence or cavities or crowding/airway issues, it is a very good start.
Start to wean from a pacifier at six-months-old.
To ensure a broad roof of the mouth and wide jaws that can house all of the teeth, begin the process of ditching a pacifier at six months of age. This is around the time that the first baby teeth can begin to appear, and those baby teeth can actually flare and form to the shape of the pacifier. While I believe pacifiers are a wonderful tool to help soothe babies, it becomes the cause of narrow jaws and crowded teeth if not removed completely by age one.
Skip the mush.
Pureed baby foods do nothing for jaw growth and development, which could lead to narrow and underdeveloped jaws that house crowded teeth. Your baby’s jaws need to be challenged with tougher foods that require mashing and chewing. Check out my Instagram post on a method called baby-led weaning!
Practice good nasal hygiene.
Believe it or not, the way your baby breathes can determine if he or she will suffer from dental decay or dental crowding. Nasal breathing is the proper way to breathe, but babies who breathe through their mouth are at a higher risk for cavities and changing their facial structure in such a way that their jaws shrink, making it impossible for the teeth to come in straight and healthy. Routinely use a nasal aspirator on your baby when they are congested.
Pay attention to feeding issues.
If your baby has trouble nursing (or if nursing is painful for you), regularly chokes or coughs while breastfeeding or eating soft foods, or is an extremely messy eater, it can’t hurt to have your baby evaluated for a lip or tongue tie. These little cords can sometimes tether the tissues of the mouth too tightly, causing a restriction on future growth and development of the jaws and roof of the mouth.
Let’s kick childhood decay and crooked teeth to the curb! Follow these tips and bring your baby to the dentist early to get checked for any obstacles they might have for exceptional oral health and development.