Crunching on ice cubes, brushing too hard and not flossing are common bad dental habits for adults. But, kids have their own set of bad habits, and they are often preventable.

Here are some of the common bad habits that Dr. Hinze has seen during his more than 40 years as a dentist:

Baby Bottle Teeth Decay. This is the most common bad habit for our youngest patients, and it’s obviously one that needs to be monitored and controlled by parents. When infants or toddlers are put down to sleep with a bottle or the bottle is used as a pacifier, it’s common to see decay form on the back of the first four teeth. Although these teeth are temporary, it’s still important to prevent decay to ensure an overall healthy mouth.

It’s also often tricky to repair tooth decay in infants and toddlers because they are too young to understand or sit still. This may start them off with a bad experience at the dentist making for a lifetime of dental phobia.

Thumb Sucking: Dr. Hinze said he sees mouth and teeth deformities in children who don’t quit sucking thumbs by age three. Plus, having the hands in the mouth all the time can increase the chance of spreading germs and getting sick.

If bribing and other at-home remedies don’t work to help children stop, Dr. Hinze can install an apparatus in the mouth that feels uncomfortable when children try to put their thumbs on their palate. The device should stop thumb sucking within three days to three weeks. But, sometimes even just setting up a visit with the dentist can be enough to encourage children to stop.

Sports Injuries: As children enter school and start participating in contact sports, common injuries include broken or knocked-out teeth. Dr. Hinze said basketball, wrestling and soccer commonly result in tooth injuries. Or, sometimes just horseplay with friends or siblings can be the culprit.

If possible, encourage children and teens to wear a mouthguard during sporting events and practice. According to the American Dental Association, an athlete is 60 times more likely to experience dental injuries when not wearing a mouthguard.

Some teeth injuries are unpreventable as kids will be kids. But, if an injury does occur, it’s important to act quickly.

“It’s a high success rate if you get the tooth fixed in less than 10-20 minutes,” Dr. Hinze said.

If a tooth is knocked out, Dr. Hinze recommends repositioning the tooth in the socket immediately or placing it in a glass of milk to keep it moist until you can get to the dentist’s office. If the tooth is broken, Dr. Hinze said to gather up the broken pieces and bring them to him for the repair.

Using Teeth as A Tool: When children frequently use their teeth to open bags or pop cans, it often results in tooth injuries. Dr. Hinze said parents should talk to their kids about this bad habit and correct them if they see them doing it. Teeth are made for chewing and eating, and children (and sometimes adults!) should be reminded of that.

Dr. Grant Hinze has been a dentist for more than 40 years. If you have more questions about teeth injuries in children or would like to set up an appointment, please call our office at (308) 995-5331.