Kids Tearing Open Plastic With Teeth? Here's What to Do

Children often have a hard time understanding that their teeth are not invincible. For example, some parents may find that their children tear open plastic items — such as bags of chips or even toy packages — with their teeth instead of using their hands or a pair of scissors. 

Unfortunately, this type of action can severely damage a child's teeth and cause a multitude of minor to serious dental problems. Fully understanding why children engage in this behavior — and what type of damage it causes — can help a parent take steps to prevent it from recurring. 

Why Kids Tear Items With Their Teeth 

Some kids — and even adults — tear open plastic items with their teeth simply out of impatience. Rather than look for a pair of scissors or a knife to open up a package, the child uses the nearest tearing or cutting object that comes to mind. Some children, however, may tear open objects because they feel uncomfortable handling knives or scissors. 

Unfortunately, tearing open packages in this way can trigger a multitude of dental problems. For example, the stress that tearing puts on the teeth may cause damage to the enamel that could lead to cavities. Even worse, a child could shake a tooth loose in its root and cause development issues or even tooth loss. As a result, parents must take steps to prevent this problem. 

How You Can Prevent This Problem 

Parents concerned about this type of behavior need to take steps to correct their child. This process requires a persistent attitude and a caring and thoughtful temperament. Harsh indignation or mean words could only encourage the child to continue their destructive actions. So make sure to follow the process below to help a child get over tearing with their teeth:

  • Watch your child whenever they have a plastic bag or a new toy.
  • Take the item away from them if they try to use their teeth to open it.
  • Discuss how much damage they can do to their teeth when tearing. 
  • Give them a pair of scissors to open up the plastic item or model the behavior by doing it for them.
  • Regularly visit the dentist to keep your child’s teeth healthy for times when you can't catch them. 

The last step is particularly crucial for this situation. Many situations exist in which, unfortunately, the parent can't stop their child from tearing with their teeth. For example, a kid may tear open a bag of chips with their teeth when at a friend's house. Even worse, the child may tear into new toy packaging after sneaking it off to their room away from their parents.

Keep persisting in the above process, when possible, to impress the importance of this behavior in the child's mind. And model good behavior — such as never opening anything with your teeth — in front of a child. Kids do model their behavior after their parents’ and will follow their example if they see their mother or father opening items with their teeth. 

Who Can Help When Dental Emergencies Occur

By now, parents should have a pretty good idea of why tearing with the teeth is such a harmful activity. However, some may have tried to take corrective steps in the past with their children only to find that their son or daughter persisted. In the worst-case scenario, this child suffered from a dental emergency, such as a broken tooth. 

If your child ever suffers from this kind of emergency, please don't hesitate to call us at Airport Road Dental Associates right away to get the help that you need. Our professionals will work hard to identify the severity of the damage so that we can fix the problem effectively and efficiently.