We often ignore the dental hygiene of young children. Parents do not go to the dentist for issues like small cavities, shaky or broken teeth because the milk teeth fall as the children grow up. But teeth represent one of the landmarks of development in a baby’s first year of birth. They give shape to the face and help a toddler to have solid food. It helps in speech development and also aid in allocating proper space for permanent teeth. So, it is necessary to take care of the teeth right from the time a child gets the first teeth. It would be best if you also taught young children about oral hygiene. The earlier you form good habits, the better.
Teaching oral hygiene:
Today children as young as three years face problems cavities, tooth decay, etc. So, brushing and cleaning is the first step to keep the teeth germs-free. The second factor is nutrition and food type. As a parent, you should be a role model for the child and daily brush, floss, and clean in front of them. When you do it daily, they would also want to join you. Let children pick a brush of their choice and make brushing a fun activity. To attract the kids, you can use an electric or musical toothbrush.
Every morning, you can have small talk while brushing and spend time together. It helps in bringing regularity. You can entertain hesitating children by telling them stories, doing exercise, or dancing with them while brushing. It is advisable to introduce easy to use floss to the children. You can also use color changing mouthwashes that can indicate the spots where the kid did not brush. Something that begins as a fun activity can gradually become routine. Then, through stories and pictures, you can explain to them the functions of teeth and can make them understand the importance of oral hygiene.
Supervise the brushing activity:
To ensure healthy gums and teeth, you should start taking care of the child’s oral health right from birth. It is your responsibility to keep the baby’s gums clean. You should wipe its gums and tongue with a clean, wet cloth at least twice a day. Once the teeth erupt, you should wash and sterilize the teether often. One can start using a finger toothbrush with soft bristles by the age of six months. You can also start cleaning the child’s mouth daily at night. By the age of three, children can start brushing on their own. You need to set a routine and ensure that they clean and brush during vacations. It is always a good practice to check for signs of tooth decay, such as chalky-white spots on the teeth or gums in children as old as 12 years.
Take kids to regular dental visits:
The dentists recommend a dental check-up by the time the baby is six months old. Kids tend to throw tantrums at a dentist’s place. Sharp tools, uncomfortable sitting positions, and the masked doctor represent a panicky situation to the kid. So, it would be best if you did not wait for an issue to erupt and then go to the dentist. It is especially applicable to children. The earlier a child acquainted with the doctor, the better. It is very helpful when the milk teeth of the children begin to fall. Children tend to wiggle their loose teeth. The new teeth might become crowded or slanted. Similarly, habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and breathing through mouth might lead to the growth of misaligned teeth. It is advisable to go to the dentist and start treatments if necessary. Early orthodontics can prevent the need for braces. So, children should have a dental check-up at least twice a year.
Flossing helps to remove sticky bacteria and prevents the formation of plaques. Plaques are the root cause of gum diseases and cavities. It is a must when the gap between the teeth is too narrow and toothbrush bristles cannot reach there. You can buy floss picks or floss holders for children. They are easy to handle and aid in proper cleaning. Water flosser are better for young ones. They are gentler and fun too. If kids have fissures or deep pits, you can consider sealing them with caps. Crown pediatrics had advanced significantly, and the time that children require to sit on the dentist’s chair is decreasing. It will help them to chew crunchy and hard food items without any pain.
Role of diet in dental health:
A well-balanced nutritious diet is essential for the growth of bones and muscles and our health. Foods that you choose can either lead to healthy gums and teeth or aid in the growth of germs and cause tooth decay and gum diseases.
Chewy and sticky food items like raisins, granola bars, sugary snacks, candies, chocolates, cookies, carbonated drinks, and acidic foods like lemon juice, pickles could cause erosion of enamel, cavities, and decay. One must eat these items in moderation and clean the mouth thoroughly after having them. Sweet things can be taken along the meal as there is more saliva. The saliva can neutralize the acids better and minimize the bacterial activity in the mouth.
Apples, celery, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, hard-boiled eggs, hard cheese, and plain yogurt are examples of teeth-damaging food items that you can have as snacks. These are rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphates that strengthen the teeth and protect the gums. Apart from choosing the right food, we also need to teach children how to eat right. Please encourage them to drink water instead of juices as it helps in washing sticky food particles in the mouth.
When must you visit the dentist?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is best, but as kids are playful and adventurous, you must be watching out for signs that indicate a problem. There are several dental issues that one should be aware of. Plaques, bad breath are due to the bacteria that live in the mouth. One can identify them first by the gradual yellowness of the teeth. Similarly, swollen red gums and frequent bleeding are the starting stage of gum diseases.
Teeth-grinding or bruxism is another condition we need to pay attention to. It may be due to teething, earache, misalignment, stress, or hyperactivity. Persistent grinding leads to wearing off of tooth enamel and also causes sensitivity and dental pain.
Thumb-sucking after the age of four interferes with teeth alignment, and children can have speech problems too. So, if the habit persists, you should consult a dentist.
One should always brush the teeth before going to bed at night. Brush gently in a circular pattern and clean the toothbrush correctly. Even for babies, you should start cleaning the gums for babies. Recently poor oral hygiene has been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease. Practicing good dental practices right from childhood can help you lead a healthy life for the entire life.