Could You Be Ruining Your Children’s Dental Health?

Acclaimed Dentist Corrects Common Bad Habits

As hard as parents try to set the right examples, teach the right lessons and reinforce the right habits to their children, we all manage to, at some point, mess up along the way.

While some things in life are complicated and offering the proper parenting can be tricky, imparting the right dental habits shouldn’t be. But Dr. Peter Vanstrom – a leading authority in dentistry today – says a tradition of bad habits continues to plague unnecessarily many households.

“For example, many people still believe that hard-bristled toothbrushes are the way to go – and that rigorous brushing is a good method for getting the mouth reliably clean, but that’s wrong,” he says. “Today, we’re seeing more and more young people in their 20s and 30s with receding gums and other problems that could be avoided.”

Vanstrom, a dental consultant for CNN medical as well as a member of the editorial board for WebMD, discusses ways for parents to set a good example for their children’s lasting dental health.

• Ditch hard-bristled toothbrushes. Don’t be someone who takes out their aggressions on your teeth while brushing – especially if you’re an older person. Over time, forceful brushing with hard bristles can accelerate gum recession, which may increase sensitivity. The soft-but-firm is the way to go in a toothbrush. That can be accomplished by using a much higher count of soft bristles, as found in products such as Curaprox (

“With this kind of brush, you can actually improve gum health by gently messaging them, which stimulates blood flow to the area,” Vanstrom says. “I’m seeing more patients suffer from gum recession and disease at a younger age, including some in their 30s and 20s. That’s why it’s important to implement good habits when kids are young!”

• Avoid a negative stigma toward oral hygiene. “Another bad legacy parents sometimes impart to their children is to put a stigma on brushing,” he says. “In many homes brushing is considered achore, probably because parents see it that way.”

An easy way to take the work out of oral hygiene is to have easy-to-use products that feel good. Fun products that are visually stimulating are good for smaller children, who are usually more prone to making a game out of brushing and flossing time. There are other products on the market that make flossing easier.

• Be mindful of the development of casual bad habits. For many, especially children, it’s easy to develop bad oral habits – thumb-sucking, nail-biting, straw-chewing, ice-crunching and teeth-grinding, to name some. And, because they’re not as strong as adults, children may be prone to using their teeth to open plastic bags and such. Of course, the habits of our childhood often stay with us in adulthood, so lead first by example, and make sure your child doesn’t pick up these habits on their own or through someone else.

Peter Vanstrom DDS, FAGD, FPFA, PC

Dr. Peter Vanstrom is recognized as one of today’s leading authorities on dentistry who achieved the honor of becoming a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry and was inducted as a Fellow in the Pierre Fauchard Academy. He has appeared as a dental expert on several segments of CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC. He currently serves as a dental consultant for CNN medical as well as a member of the editorial board for WebMD. Dr. Vanstrom has been an invited speaker at the Academy of General Dentistry, the Hinman Dental Meeting, the Greater New York Dental Meeting, the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the Yankee Dental Meeting and the British Dental Association. He is the founder and director of Paradigm Dental Consulting and currently lectures for DenMat, Inc. on STM, non-surgical periodontal care for the general dental office, Curaprox, Inc. advance Swiss homecare systems ( and technology and Paradigm Dental Consulting.

Author: Ted Hicks

Ted Hicks is a dad, husband & son that enjoys writing about the wonderful world of parenting, technology, product reviews, education and sports. There are very few topics that won't be addressed with contributions to You can expect a witty exchange on the #LNPshow. Be prepared for an open and honest conversation – because that’s what you’re going to receive. is a resource site for parents looking for interesting blogs on various topics and articles. We provide our thoughts and giveaways for baby gear, electronics, sporting events & apparel. Follow us at @RealTedHicks / @LateNightParent or feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] Check us out at you ready for the #LNPshow? YOU sure?

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