Teaching Kids About Sugar Bugs: Why It’s a Must
Did you know that 60 percent of children will have had at least one cavity upon reaching the age of 5?
At Surfside Kids Dental Offices we see quite a few of them on a daily basis. We also hear from many parents who tend to ignore cavities in their children’s teeth, because they are going to fall out anyway. But the consequences of having cavities even in baby teeth can impact a child’s overall health as well as social life. Our goal is to create good oral care habits early so that the cycle of cavities does not continue to repeat itself once those adult teeth grow in.
The impact of “bad teeth” can be experienced for a lifetime, but the good news is that cavities are “100 percent preventable,” according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. By instilling good dental hygiene discipline and using smart techniques such as teaching kids about sugar bugs, parents can ensure a healthy smile – and a healthy life – for their children.
The Consequences of Cavities
Decaying teeth can lead to the following dental health issues:
- Premature baby tooth loss, which can cause crooked, crowded and overlapping permanent teeth
- Infection or abscess
- Weakened and discolored permanent teeth
- Expensive dental work to fix damage and structural issues
Dental issues can contribute to problems in school
- Frequent toothache has been linked to poor performance at school and low GPA.
- Dental health problems cause absenteeism for both children and working parents.
Social development delays
- Embarrassing teeth appearance and bad breath can affect children’s self-esteem and ability to socialize with peers and authority figures.
- Difficulty in speaking/articulation, smiling and non-verbal communication due to poor oral health can affect their ability to take advantage of opportunities at school, community and other aspects of life.
Overall health problems
- Nutrition can be sacrificed due to limited food choices.
- Sleeping hours can be disturbed by a toothache, teeth grinding and other cavity-caused dental health concerns.
- There is a real connection between oral health and your child’s overall health
Important Lessons about Sugar Bugs
Teaching dental care early in life allows families to avoid all those consequences and more. And to make the lessons stick, it helps to make training and teaching fun. Instead of being so serious and scientific about it, use storytelling as a teaching device. Sugar bugs is essentially code for cavity-causing bacteria, but much easier and more fun for them to understand. Make it your kids’ “mission” to fight off those nasty bugs through brushing their teeth day and night. You may also use charts, songs and dance numbers and a reward system. We recently wrote a blog post about, How to make your child’s dental routine fun, if you need some tips, please check it out.
As with any new routine, it can be a challenge in the beginning to ensure everyone follows the schedule and the rules. Instead of being so strict and uptight about it, try to keep the atmosphere helpful and supportive. The message is not “do what I tell you,” but more like, “we’re all in this together.”
Try it, and make it a fun challenge to be cavity free. Happy brushing!