Dental caries also known as tooth decay is a common problem among children. Child dental health care should begin at birth itself.
Tooth decay also known as a cavity or dental caries is a common dental problem among children worldwide. Tooth decay occurs when the acid formed by the bacteria in the mouth causes softening of the tooth enamel. Tooth enamel covers the outer layer of each tooth and plays a key role in protecting the teeth from decay.
Dental Care for Babies
Dental care for babies is of utmost importance as it influences their oral health for life. Though babies do not have teeth when they are born, there is a complete set of 20 baby teeth hidden inside their gums waiting to erupt, 10 teeth in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw.
Many parents do not give much attention to their childís milk teeth
as they will be replaced by permanent teeth in the long haul. But this should not be the case because milk teeth preserve space for the permanent ones and help babies to chew and talk. If not cared correctly, they can get decayed and cause gum infection called gingivitis
; that could affect the spacing of the permanent teeth.Dental care for baby teeth
should begin well before the first tooth comes out. To clean your babyís gums, use a warm and wet washcloth or a piece of wet gauze wrapped around your finger and wipe your newborn babyís gums gently. Follow this once a day when your babyís last feed for the day is over.
Baby teeth are prone to dental caries as soon as they come out; so when your babyís first tooth erupts around 6-10 months, take wet gauze or soft infant toothbrush meant for children less than two years of age and gently brush with water twice a day, mainly after the first and last feedings.
You can also maintain good oral hygiene and avoid baby tooth decay
by not giving your baby a bottle as a pacifier or in bed during the night. Also, bottle-feeding in bed can cause danger of choking, as babies who sleep while bottle-feeding risk taking liquid into their lungs.
If your baby uses a soother, then do not dip the soother in sweet liquids like honey to avoid teeth cavities.
Dental Care for Toddlers
Dental care should be a part of a toddlerís daily routine. Children should visit the dentist by their first birthday and regularly after that. Early visits to the dentist can help in identification of dental problems in the initial stages and also reduce the fear of dentist when the child grows older. It is recommended to take your child to a pedodontist who specializes in treating childrenís dental health. Below are few tips you can follow for your childís good dental health:
- Encourage your child to brush teeth twice in a day i.e. in the morning and before going to bed.
- Use a small toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste, because children usually swallow the paste.
- Change the toothbrush every three months. Since children tend to bite the bristles and you may have to change it more often.
- Introduce your child to healthy meals early so that they develop tastes for these foods before they eat sugars.
- Donít encourage your child to have sweet and sticky foods often such as candies, chocolates and sugary drinks, as they can cause tooth decay. Encourage them to brush their teeth each time they take in such foods.
Dental Care for Preschoolers
Below mentioned are a few dental care habits for pre-schooling children, to maintain a good oral hygiene
- Make your child brush in the morning and before bedtime. Encourage your child to rinse the mouth with water after eating meals and snacks, to eliminate the sticky foods attached to the surfaces of the teeth.
- At this age, children will usually have an urge to brush teeth on their own; teach them the right brushing techniques, which is very important to maintain good oral health.
- If possible, teach your child the benefits of good oral hygiene.
- Try to stop the habit of thumb sucking and avoid using a pacifier.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of water to maintain overall health and constant flow of saliva in the mouth.
Dental Care for School-going Children
Healthy teeth and gums are essential for your childís overall health; therefore, it is important for school-going children to follow certain dental practices, such as:
- Teach your child to begin flossing of teeth and encourage the kid to brush twice a day.
- Allow your child to use a small amount of toothpaste. Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and rinse with water. Advise your kid not to swallow toothpaste.
- Give your child fresh fruits instead of fruit juices; fresh juices contain added sugar and can cause tooth decay.
- Avoid carbonated soft drinks because they are acidic and can damage the teeth.
- Avoid using sugary foods as rewards for good behavior.
- Encourage your child to eat a healthy diet including vegetables, grains, cereals, fruits, dairy, fish, eggs and lean meat.
- If any permanent tooth is damaged, then itís better to take advice from your dentist
- To minimize the risk of germs, rinse the toothbrush and allow it to air dry after every use. Take care that toothbrushes donít touch each other when kept together and sharing of toothbrushes is not recommended. It is also important that the brushes are stored safe and free from contact with insects.
- Floss your teeth everyday. Regular flossing will remove the food particles and stop plaque formation that can lead to tooth decay.
- Use your teeth only for chewing food and not for anything else like tearing of plastics or opening bottle corks
- Have regular dental check-ups
- Brush your teeth for two to three minutes each time