Oral Health in Children
Healthy teeth and good oral hygiene make a solid for good health in children. It is very important that parents provide their kids with a good understanding of what good oral hygiene is, right from their childhood. As you know, children learn quickly by observing their parents – so why not set a good example for them and lead them to a good and healthy life by adopting the same healthy habits yourself?
Going to a dentist can be a harrowing experience for many kids as it is usually when they need to have their teeth pulled out, or treat cavities or oral injuries. Kids typically link the trip to dentist with pain and the whole experience becomes something they want to avoid at any cost.
It is up to parents and older members in the family to provide the correct information to children about the services and care given by dentist. A visit to the children’s dentist need not be a scary story anymore because of the advanced facilities available in dental care today. Let them know that regular visits to the dentist will keep their teeth strong and healthy.
Oral care for babies
Right from the time a child is born it is important to care for the growing gums and teeth of an infant. Taking proper care right from the start will help prevent cavities as well. Some of the things one can take care of in infants are as follows:
- Clean gums using soft cloth
- Clean gums/teeth using a soft baby toothbrush
- Using children’s toothpaste is also essential
- Refrain from putting the baby to bed with a bottle
- Check teeth regularly for spots
- Cut the intake of juice among children
Some things to pay attention to
Teething is one major milestones when it comes to oral health in children. Generally children have their teeth come in between 3 months to 9 months of age. Some children will breeze through teething time, but others may become fussy, irritable, loose appetite and drool all over the place. Some might even experience diarrhoea or develop a fever. Consulting with a dentist can help minimise the trouble during this time.
Cavities or tooth decay
Cavities can develop in children when sugary fluids are allowed to linger in a child’s mouth for a long period of time. Children sometimes develop the habit of going to sleep with a bottle of milk or sugary juice. When this happens, bacteria from the liquids will linger in the oral region and bring about decay in the teeth. Some children also use ‘sippy cups’ to have drinks, this may lead to tooth decay if they keep sipping something sugary all day long. Chewing of fruits should be encouraged in children as compared to drinking fruit juice, as this helps stimulate secretion of saliva which acts as natural protection against decay. Children who are taking medication for prolonged periods may also develop problems with the teeth. In cases like this, it is better to check with dentists on the type of care that can be given to maintain good oral hygiene.
Brushing and flossing in children
Brushing and flossing go a long way in protecting teeth against decay. Kids can start brushing on their own with help from a grown up around the age of 2 or 3. Fun activities such as using their own toothbrush can help encourage kids to be get interested in brushing. Pea-sized dollop of toothpaste should be enough for kids. Brushing twice a day helps make sure that teeth are healthy. Cleaning of tongue should also be encouraged. Let them also start flossing – they can do it on their own, with some help and guidance from parents.
A balanced diet is necessary for good overall development of children. It also is necessary to develop and maintain good strong enamel cover that can fight decay and cavities. Children should be taught which type of food is beneficial for their growth and which is harmful to health. Foods that are rich in sugar and starch can cause decay in teeth. Let kids also know how different types of food affect teeth.
Help from dentist
Usually a visit to the dentist can start from the first birthday of your child. The dentist can guide you on how to take care of the health of gums and what to do when teething happens. If there are some problems that are affecting your child’s health – then you can discuss those with your dentist.
For older children, dentists would also provide them information regarding the ill effects of using tobacco, smoking and oral piercings. Eating disorders is also another important topic on which the dentist can provide guidance.
In the case infants, parents are generally concerned about the following issues which the dentist can provide ample guidance on:
- How to slowly get rid of habits such as using pacifier without troubling your child
- How to make sure your child develops a ‘taste’ to drink just water and not sugary drinks
- How to give only water when they get up at night
- Preventing habits such as thumb sucking and nail biting
After your child develops permanent teeth, you may want to check with your dentist about sealants. They are helpful in protecting the chewing surfaces of back teeth. After a through dental examination, the dentist can also recommend if they need extra fluoride or gels.
You should also contact your dentist in the following cases:
- If your child suffers from any injury in the mouth
- If your child has knocked out teeth or chipped teeth
- If the teeth are misaligned and they need braces
- If your child needs mouth guards during contact sports
- If your child has cavities
- If your child has bleeding gums
- If your child suffers from tooth grinding/jaw clenching issues
Tooth decay and other oral problems in children may even affect children’s overall development. Besides the pain and discomfort, children might also get affected by
- Problems in sleeping
- Developmental problems in speech
- Poor social skills due to self-consciousness
- Social isolation
- Self-esteem issues
- Spreading of decay to other areas of the mouth
It is important that regular follow up sessions with dentist are maintained without fail. This will help the dentist monitor the oral health of your children. As parents, you can also keep a check on the state of your child’s dental health. Regular sessions with the dentist can detect problems at the earliest and they can be manged with quick and minimal care.
Schedule visits to the dentist in advance. Fix an appointment during the time when you know the child is likely to be well rested. You should also listen to your child’s fears and concerns about a visit to the dentist as they might mirror the unpleasant experience their friends might have had. You can give a ‘dry run’ on the procedure that could happen at the dentist – explain how the dental examination happens, how in some cases dentist would use an X–ray to have a clearer picture of the oral region etc. All of this will help both you and the kids have a pleasant and relaxed dental visit.
Categorised in: Childrens Dentistry, Uncategorised
This post was written by Letooth