Kids and Bad Dreams About Their Teeth

Small boy under the covers afraid of the dark.

Due to the pandemic, kids of all ages are spending more time attending video classes. Many are struggling to adapt to this new teaching style. Kids also are stressed by an unexpected concern: their appearance on the computer screen. In the past, most kids probably didn’t pay much attention to their teeth. But now that they see their faces on the computer screen every day, many kids don’t like their smiles. And they worry that other kids might make fun of their appearance. They even have bad dreams about their teeth. Here are three things for parents and caregivers to know.

  1. Frequent nightmares

    A recent study by the Oral Health Foundation with 1,500 British parents found that kids are 10 times more likely to suffer from bad dreams about their teeth than adults. Nearly 12% of kids said they had nightmares about their teeth.

    Medical experts say it’s common for young children, ages three to five, to have nightmares as their imaginations develop. They also become more aware of the world around them, which can become part of their dreams. But before the pandemic, most kids probably didn’t dream about their teeth.

  1. Conscious of appearance

    Younger kids have become more conscientious about their appearance, researchers report. These concerns are creating unnecessary stress. Kids see advertisements and social media posts of people talking about the importance of being attractive. When they look in the mirror or see their face in a video class, they may notice that their smile is not appealing. These comparisons can cause them to have bad dreams about their teeth.

    The Oral Health Foundation study also found that about 47% of kids have discussed worries and dreams about their teeth with their parents or caregivers. About 18% of kids under five have told their parents that they did not like their smiles. Nearly one-third of the study participants said their kids under five have asked for help to improve their smiles.

  1. Tips for healthy teeth

    Parents and caregivers can help kids learn how to take care of their smiles, so they look great! It’s easy to show them good habits for brushing and flossing their teeth. These tips offer sound advice. When brushing their teeth, about 40% of kids ages 3 to 6 use more toothpaste than they need. Find out how much toothpaste kids should use and how to brush their teeth correctly.

    Make sure to schedule a dental checkup for kids one or two times a year, as directed by the dentist. These preventive exams include professional cleanings to help kids enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and happy smiles. During the visit, kids can talk about their concerns and any bad dreams they’re having about their teeth. Watch this video to prepare kids for their dental visit.

In addition, encourage kids to eat healthy foods and set a good example. Provide them with a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Give choices of healthy snacks, like low-fat cheese, yogurt, veggies, almonds or fruit. After eating a sugary treat, teach kids to swish clean water around their mouth to rinse off their teeth and gums.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to help kids learn how to take care of their teeth. Plus, good dental and dietary habits will serve them well throughout life. Review 10 things to know about your kids’ teeth.

Oral Health Foundation