How to care for the dental health of your toddler
When we talk about dental health and care of toddlers, we must keep in mind how to start early and build on good oral hygiene habits.
Children learn by copying their elders. The best way to ensure the best dental health of toddlers would be to present them with a good model to copy. Practise good oral hygiene regime and rest assured that your toddler will follow it.
In addition to provide the toddler with a good model to copy, there are other procedures to follow to put the toddlers on the way to good dental health for their entire life.
The first thing to do would be to inculcate good dental care habits.
As we all know the early start gives toddlers headway to build upon.
When should we introduce toddlers to brushing the teeth?
When babies are born, they have 20 deciduous teeth ready to erupt when their jaws are grown. Since the teeth are going to erupt after a few months after birth, it is not too early to introduce toddlers for brushing ritual.
You can run a damp piece of clean cloth over the gums which will clear away harmful bacteria.
When the baby starts with his first tooth, you can brush the tooth with a soft infant toothbrush. You must use a very tiny amount of toothpaste on the brush. Take as much as a rice of grain of the fluoride toothpaste on the brush and gently. Keep the amount of toothpaste to the minimum because the baby doesn’t not know how to spit out.
When the baby gets two teeth side by side, start cleaning between the teeth.
At two years of age, most children learn to spit out the paste. Avoid giving water along with tooth paste because it will have more chances to be gulped down rather than spitted out.
When the child has reached 3 years of age, they can manage a pea sized amount of toothpaste on the brush.
All the brushing should be done in supervision only. They are likely to swallow toothpaste if not supervised.
How to avoid tooth decay in toddlers?
Avoid feeding the baby on breast or bottle when he is asleep. When the baby has the bottle in his mouth when he is sleeping, the bacteria collects on the residual milk or sugars from the juice and thrive. These bacteria then eat away the enamel, the layer which protects the tooth from decay. This condition is called the ‘bottle mouth’ or ‘baby bottle tooth decay’. This leads to discoloration of the front teeth and they look pocked and pitted. This may result in cavities and in severe cases teeth may need to be pulled out.
The best way to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to wean the baby to a sippy cup after 6 months. With a straw or a hard spout, the milk is not pooled around a baby’s teeth in the mouth. With advanced motor control by 1 year, the baby will be able to drink from the cup.
When should a toddler visit a dentist?
The early you start the better. When the baby is a year old, the parents can take them to visit the dentist. This visit will be a professional visit but it is only to introduce the doctor and the dental chair to the child. The dentist will not carry out any dental hygiene procedure at this visit. This is purely to make friends with the child and let him know that a dentist’s office need not be a scary place.
The dentist will check the teeth and mouth of the baby when the baby is the mother’s lap.
The next visit can be planned after 6 months or so. These visits will help in getting the child used to the dentist’s office and equipment. This will help not to build fear of dental chair. If possible, get your child to a paediatric dental professional who is trained to handle babies and young children with their dental issues. If paediatric dentists are not available in your area then general dental practitioners can be contacted. When children are taken to dentists at an early age, many other dental problems can be attended to at the right time. For example, if your child has improper bite, he can be referred to an orthodontist to correct it.
Early visits to dentists save the child from issues like dental caries in children. When the child is facing the risk of caries, the dentist may apply topical fluoride before even all the teeth erupts. This will harden the enamel and protect the teeth from decay.
How to ensure good dental care for children
- As soon as children get teeth, teach them to brush twice a day
- Use enough fluoride to make the teeth strong and toughen them to withstand the penetration by acidic attacks from bacteria. The dentist can suggest fluoride supplements for your child. Avoid using too much fluoride though, because it results in discolouration of teeth.
- Limit sugary foods, juices and sticky candy. Sugary candy and roll ups can erode enamel coating on teeth and lead to cavities. Make it a habit to rinse the mouth of children after consuming sugary foods.
- As children grow plan the dental clinic visits more often may be once in every 3 months, because dental problems grow very fast, and once not checked in time, they can get complicated and produce more hardships for the children and parents.
- Keep in touch with your dentist and discuss dental issues in detail with him. If the parents have genetic issues of proneness for developing cavities then your dentist may suggest way to avoid those in time.
- Healthy diet and balanced lifestyle will benefit the child having the good dental health.
Categorised in: Childrens Dentistry
This post was written by Letooth