Caring for the dental health of a child begins with proper maintenance of the pregnant mother’s health. This is because a baby’s teeth start to develop while it is still in the mother’s womb. A pregnant mother must ensure that she follows a nutritious and healthy diet, taking in all the recommended essential vitamins and minerals. It is also advised that mothers undergo a complete dental examination and have any problems such as cavities or gum diseases rectified. Here are fundamental elements of children’s dental care.
Children’s first teeth (also referred to as primary teeth) usually emerge from the gums beginning from the age of six, though this may vary from one child to another. When they reach 3 years old, all primary teeth (twenty in number) become visible. These teeth are replaced by secondary (permanent) teeth between ages 6 and 11.Molars are the first permanent teeth to emerge, at about 6 years old.
Starting to visit the dentist
When a baby is six months old, a doctor should analyze its potential for developing dental problems later. To do this, the mother’s dental history and current status may require to be assessed since this may influence the baby’s teeth. If the doctor determines that there is a high likelihood of such future problems, you should make a point of having the child see a dentist when he or she attains the age of one year or when primary teeth appear-whichever occurs first. After this first visit, you should do a follow-up after every six months or as advised by the dentist.
In case the child has dental issues arising from injury, disease or problems due to growth, a pediatric dentist should conduct an examination immediately. If there are problems affecting other body areas (besides the surfaces of the teeth) a pediatrician should address them.
Caring for children’s gums and teeth
The care of gums and teeth is vital when ensuring proper dental care of your children. It is highly advisable to start nurturing healthy child dental care habits before your child’s secondary teeth appear. It is also important to clean your baby’s gums even before primary teeth emerge. This can be done using a soft cloth or gauze, and it helps remove plaque in the baby’s gums
Be cautious when you share spoons, forks and such utensils with your baby. The saliva residues on those utensils may be harboring bacteria which can lead to tooth decay. Even giving the baby a harmless-looking kiss can transmit harmful bacteria. Maintaining proper oral hygiene in the family can help combat tooth decay in early stages of a child’s growth. This helps eliminate bacteria that can result in tooth decay for your child.
Do not use sugary products such as juices or even milk when soothing your child to sleep. Such liquids contain acids and sugars which are agents of tooth decay. Also ensure you do not prop up the bottle when in the baby’s mouth. Once the baby is done with feeding or has dozed off, remove it immediately. At around 4 to 6 months the baby should begin drinking off a cup.
The subject of the right fluoride levels for your child’s teeth needs to be discussed with the dentist. In case additional fluoride is required, the dentist can recommend a varnish, gel or supplement that can be used. Ensure you keep supplements out of children’s reach and use them as directed. Excessive fluoride is toxic and can stain your child’s teeth.
Your child must be fed a nourishing healthy diet in order to keep their gums and teeth healthy and avert tooth decay. This entails eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Minimize the usage of processed and sugary starch like pastries, white bread and pasta
Do not give your child alcohol-based mouthwashes. If your six-year old child has cavities, ask your dentist if a mouthwash with fluoride can assist. Mouthwash should not be swallowed.
Keep your child away from cigarette smoke exposure. This can cause tooth decay and gum disease, among other issues. Growing children need to be educated on the dangers of smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke.
At times, children’s rough play can lead to teeth being broken or even knocked out. Teach yourself about the handling of dental emergencies and teeth injuries. Children should be encouraged to stop thumb and finger sucking. If this fails, talk to your dentist about it.
Brushing and flossing
Immediately your child’s teeth emerge, start using a soft toothbrush to brush them. On the child reaching the age of 2 years, begin using a tiny amount (pea-sized) of toothpaste and teach them not to swallow it.
When the children’s teeth grow and are touching each other, you can introduce flossing. There are many plastic flossing tools available in the market today. Consult with your dentist and learn the proper technique of flossing a child’s and how to teach your child how to floss.
In the initial stages, you may have to brush and floss your children’s teeth. They can learn teeth brushing from the age of 3 years. At 4 years old, a child should be brushing his or her teeth twice a day. However you should supervise this in order to guarantee thoroughness.
Watching you as you brush your teeth helps kids learn the proper brushing techniques and the correct angles. They can brush by themselves in the morning and then you brush them at night. This will help them perfect their technique progressively.
You can buy disclosing tablets which help reveal if any plaque is left after the children brush their teeth. These are chewable tablets which are widely available, and they color the plaque residues on teeth after brushing.