It is every parent’s worry when it comes to taking care of oral health in children. Some questions that crop up are – Are they taking the correct measures to protect their child’s oral health? Is anything lacking in the child’s diet that can lead to dental issues? Mostly the focus of parents will be on protecting the child from getting dental cavities.
Caring for dental health in children and making sure that a good foundation in oral health and hygiene is given to children is the goal every parent wishes for. Some of the major aspects of maintaining and protecting oral health in children are discussed here.
For good clean teeth, brushing comes top in the list, followed by flossing and mouthwashes. Dental care ideally should begin before even the first tooth makes its appearance. The focus is on maintaining a good healthy gum line. If the gums are not strong, then they will not be able to provide good support to the emerging baby teeth. Another reason is that the baby teeth are already formed and they are present just below the jaw line. Cleaning the gums of babies with a moist soft cloth will help to remove harmful bacteria. Baby food is mostly sugary and this will attract bacteria to the areas where food debris is seen. If the baby’s mouth is not cleaned after each drink of milk or juice, then it becomes a favourite site for bacterial action.
After the baby tooth erupts it can be cleaned using a baby brush which is soft and suited for your child. Using toothpaste is also recommended, there is a wide range of toothpaste available for children. Some dentists even suggest using toothpaste that have fluoride in them to offer extra support to the teeth. After more teeth erupt, care should be taken to clean between the teeth as food particles can get stuck between them. When children grow older, they should be taught how to brush and floss. Depending on how capable the child is more free hand should be given to them but under the supervision of parents. This way parents can guide children to the right way of brushing and flossing. Making it a fun activity will help in making it enjoyable and something the kids look forward to.
As with general health, oral health is also dependent on food and food habits. The majority of the food that is given to babies and toddlers has sugar content in them. Sugar is one major factor that aids the formation of dental cavities. It is also seen in children and not just in adults. Sugar attracts bacterial action. The food that is acted upon by bacteria releases harmful acids that harm the teeth. Because the baby food is loaded with sugar, the chances of bacterial action are more. So it is important to clean the baby’s mouth after each meal or drink. It also helps to start children to drink water when they go for their naps. If it is milk or juice drink before they go to sleep, then there are higher chances of bacterial action as food will stay in the mouth as it is not cleaned before the baby goes to sleep. Changing from bottles to cups will also help to prevent food from staying around the child’s teeth. As children grow up also, it is important to introduce healthy food options to the child. Including more fruits and cutting down on food that has high sugar content will help in promoting good oral health.
Most people see dentists when they have dental problems that they are unable to take care of at home. Toothache is one of the common symptoms seen and because of this very reason it is brushed aside with the thought that it will go away in a few days. Since babies do not have teeth yet or there are only a few many feels that help from a dentist is not needed. Consulting a dentist when the child is around one year old is recommended. The first visit to the dentist is helpful for most parents as experts will guide them on how to brush their child’s teeth, how to take care of gums, what are the possible dental/gum issues crop up if proper care is not given – all these will be discussed. All these are very important as this helps to lay a base to good and healthy dental care for the child. During these consultations, dentists will also be able to diagnose if the child is at risk for cavities. They will even recommend toothpaste with fluoride to help ward off this issue. Fluorides offer extra support to the dental enamel and protect the teeth.
Common dental problems
Genetics plays a major role in oral health. So, if parents have dental issues, then there are high chances of this being passed on to children. When going for a dental consultation with your children it will be good to discuss these aspects with the dentists so more proactive measures can be taken to preserve the oral health of your children. When the child grows older, another dental concern that can come up is bite and alignment of teeth. Overcrowding teeth can cause teeth to overlap, or they might be problems of overbite and under bite. This will require corrective action – by using braces or by surgery if the problem is a bit more complex. Now unlike the earlier times, it is not just metal braces available, there are coloured ones and invisible braces if your child is feeling embarrassed about using them. Making sure to make dentist’s consultation every six months and seeking dental care if there is pain and bleeding in the gums will all help to fix dental problems before they develop into compound issues.