We love it when our child has our eyes or our partner’s dimples. But, as we all know, children don’t just inherit our good traits. They can also take on some of our bad habits, like poor dental hygiene practices. Parents with anxiety or fear of the dentist are more likely to have kids with cavities. As a parent, if fear of the dentist keeps you away from regular cleanings, review our resources for overcoming a fear of the dentist. Kids with untreated cavities can experience harmful effects from their smile health for a lifetime to come. Stop cavities and a fear of the dentist in your children.
Parents with a Fear of the Dentist Have Children with Untreated Cavities
Your dental anxiety is not uncommon, but it has consequences. It negatively impacts more than just your own dental health. Parents with a fear of the dentist are more likely to have kids with cavities.
A parent’s impact on their child’s dental health doesn’t end there. Parents or guardians can spread their existing cavities from their own mouth to the child’s mouth. This is done through everyday interactions like cleaning a binky or pacifier off in your mouth, sharing a spoon or kissing a baby on the mouth.
Cavities Come from Bad Habits + Mouth Contact
One study examined if young children had been infected with a strain of bacteria involved in the process of tooth decay.
- 30% of the three-month-olds,
- 60% of the six-month-olds
- and 80% of the two-year-olds had the bacteria present that leads to tooth decay.
The researchers concluded that they felt the bacteria was passed to children from their parents or guardians through kissing or sharing items. “Unlike other infectious diseases, tooth decay is not self-limiting. Decayed teeth require professional treatment to remove infection and restore tooth function,” the study wrote.
Dental caries, or cavities, occur when damage from decay creates a hole in the tooth. Tooth decay happens when plaque and bacteria get the opportunity to eat away tooth enamel. They get this opportunity when there’s no brushing, flossing or regular dentist visits. If you and your child haven’t seen the dentist in the past six to 12 months, it’s critical to both overall and dental health to make an appointment today.
More Influences on Children’s Development of Cavities:
- Parental smoking
- Siblings with cavities
- Drinking juice between meals at two years of age or older
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends avoiding the following activities as they are cavity-promoting behaviors:
- Putting babies to sleep with milk from the bottle at bedtime.
- Letting kids drink soda or any liquids with fermentable carbohydrates*.
- Continuing to bottle feed after 12-14 months of age.
- Feeding your kids between-meal snacks that contain high amounts of sugar.
* Fermentable carbohydrates are in anything sweetened with sugar, high fructose corn syrup or another sugar variant. Fermentable carbohydrates are worse for your mouth than regular carbohydrates because they break down into simple sugars in the mouth, rather than the digestive tract.
If you take your children to the dentist at least once a year, you’re doing well. If taking your child to the dentist is more difficult because of your personal dental fear or anxiety about the dentist, consider asking a friend or relative to take your child for you! You may also consider finding a pediatric dentist that specializes in children’s dental care to make the experience more comfortable for you and your child.
Remember – the earlier a child visits the dentists, the better. Children should see the dentist by the age of one. For more information on children’s dental health and avoiding untreated cavities, visit our blog:
Looking for a new dentist? Click here to find an in-network dentist in your area.*