2 Detrimental Dental Habits Of Toddlers And How To Overcome Them

There are multiple damaging habits in which a child can participate during toddlerhood. However, these habits can be overcome before there are any detrimental effects to the child's oral health. Here are two popular habits in which many toddlers engage and how to overcome them:


Toddlers who suck their thumbs can cause problems with their bite and the alignment of their teeth. The thumb, when sucked, places pressure on the upper palate that can result in an irregular formation and alignment of the teeth. When the teeth protrude forward from the pressure, they do not properly align with the teeth in the lower palate.

Here are a few things that you can do to help discourage your child from sucking his or her thumb:

  • Encourage your child by offering verbal praise whenever he or she refrains from thumb-sucking. Instead of scolding or demeaning your little one, encouragement is often the best and most healthy way to help your child overcome the habit.
  • Keep your child's fingers occupied. You can give your child hands-on activities, such as coloring, painting or playing with a small toy to keep his or her little thumb busy.
  • Remove the child's thumb from his or her mouth after he or she falls asleep. Many children suck their thumbs even during periods of rest. By gently removing the thumb from your child's mouth as he or she sleeps, your child becomes accustomed to not having the thumb in place during bedtime and naps.

Resting With a Bottle

Some children find sucking a bottle so soothing that they may seem to only fall asleep if given a warm bottle of milk or a bottle of juice at bedtime. This particular habit can cause the development of a condition called baby bottle decay. The condition occurs because liquids containing sugar are allowed to rest on the child's teeth.

As a child sleeps or rests, the swallowing reflex is diminished, so any milk or juice present in a bottle in the child's mouth pools around the teeth. In addition, the production of saliva is also lessened during rest time. Thus, there is little saliva available to rinse the sugary material from the teeth.

Here are a few things you can do to discourage bottle use at rest times:

  • Switch to a cup. Most children do not find the use of a cup as soothing at bedtime, because it eliminates the sucking motion.
  • Place water only in a bottle. If your child still seems reliant on a bottle, only place water in the bottle during periods of rest.

To learn more ways to overcome bottle use and thumb-sucking, schedule a consultation with a dentist, such as Benjamin D Hull DDS.