Children Oral Care and Preventing Tooth DecayProper care of your child's teeth and gums includes brushing and rinsing, routine dental exams, and any necessary treatments such as fluoride, extractions, fillings, or braces and other orthodontics. Healthy teeth and gums are essential to your child's overall good health. Injured, diseased, or poorly developed teeth can result in poor nutrition, painful and dangerous infections, and problems with speech development and self-image.
Caring for Kids Teeth
Nothing is as special as your child’s happy, healthy smile. As a parent, you know it’s important to learn how to care for your child’s oral health.
Caring for an Infant Teeth
Even though newborns and infants do not have teeth, it is important to take care of their mouth and gums. Follow these tips:
• Use a damp washcloth to wipe your infant's gums after each meal.
• Do NOT put your infant or young child to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or sugar water. Use only water for bedtime bottles.
• Begin using a soft toothbrush instead of a washcloth to clean your child's teeth as soon as his first tooth shows (usually between 5 - 8 months of age).
• Ask your pediatrician if your infant needs fluoride added to his diet.
Caring for a Child's Teeth
• Parents and caregivers often share spoons, forks, and other utensils with babies. The saliva you may leave on the utensil contains bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Sometimes, kissing can also transfer bacteria. You can help prevent early childhood tooth decay in your child by making sure that your family practices good dental health habits. Keeping your own teeth and gums healthy reduces the risk of transferring tooth decay bacteria to your child.
• Do not put your infant or small child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or other product that contains sugar. The sugar and acids in these liquids can cause tooth decay (bottle mouth camera). Do not prop the bottle up in your baby's mouth. Remove the bottle as soon as your baby is done feeding or is asleep. Breast-feeding your infant to sleep is safe, however. Encourage your baby to begin drinking from a cup at about 4 to 6 months of age.
• Discuss your child's fluoride needs with your dentist if your local water supply does not contain enough fluoride. To find out, call your local water company or health department. If you have your own well, have your water checked to determine whether your family needs fluoride from other sources. You may also need to provide fluoride to your children if you use bottled water for cooking or drinking. Normal amounts of fluoride added to public water supplies and bottled water are safe for children and adults. If your child needs extra fluoride, your dentist may recommend supplements. Use these supplements only as directed. And keep them out of reach of your child. Too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth.
• Give your child nutritious foods to maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth decay. These include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as pastries, pasta, and white bread.
• Do not give your child mouthwashes that contain alcohol. If your child age 6 or older has cavities, ask the dentist if your child should try mouthwash that contains fluoride. But watch to make sure your child does not swallow it.
• Keep your child away from cigarette smoke (secondhand smoke). Tobacco smoke may contribute to the development of tooth decay, gum disease, and other health issues.1 As your child grows, teach him or her about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.
• Children play hard, sometimes hard enough to knock out or break a tooth. Learn how to prevent injuries to teeth and what to do in a dental emergency.
• If your child sucks his or her fingers or thumb, help your child to stop. If the child can't stop, see your dentist.
Brushing and flossing
• Start cleaning your child's teeth with a soft cloth or gauze pad as soon as the teeth come in. As more teeth erupt, clean teeth with a soft toothbrush.
• Because too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth, ask your doctor or dentist if it's okay to use fluoride toothpaste. Brush your child's teeth for the first few years, until your child can do it alone (usually at about age 3). Teach your child not to swallow the toothpaste.
• Your child can learn how to brush his or her own teeth at about age 3. Children should be brushing their own teeth morning and night by age 4, although you should supervise and check for proper cleaning.
• Give your child a small, soft toothbrush, and apply fluoridated toothpaste in an amount about the size of a small green pea. Encourage your child to watch you and older siblings brush camera teeth. A good teaching method is to have your child brush in the morning and you brush at night until your child masters the skill.
• Start flossing your child's teeth as soon as they touch each other. You may find plastic flossing tools camera helpful. Talk with your dentist about the right timing and technique to floss your child's teeth and how to teach your child to floss.
• Use disclosing tablets from time to time to see whether any plaque is left on the teeth after brushing. Disclosing tablets are chewable and will color any plaque left on the teeth after the child brushes. You can buy these at myotcstore.com
Improper oral hygiene and tooth decay
Poor diet and nutrition, improper hygiene, and the pressure to use fluoride all contribute to the state of our children’s teeth. Developing good oral health habits at an early age will last a lifetime and significantly improve a child’s overall health. A major cause of tooth decay in children is poor diet and nutrition. The prominence of sugary drinks and snacks means the average child doesn’t get enough minerals or vitamins. Their diets lack healthy food choices and contain too many foods high in carbohydrates, starches, and sugar often resulting in mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
Consistent and frequent consumption of refined sugar, sugary soft drinks, and many processed foods can cause rapid demineralization of your child’s teeth. This includes the enamel and dentin, which is formed during the bacterial fermentation of the dietary sugars. The sugars in many of these foods and drinks serve as food for mouth borne bacteria. And when a child regularly snacks between meals, bacteria in the mouth feeds on the supply of food and produces acids that attack tooth enamel. These acid attacks slowly dissolve away minerals from the tooth structure and weaken it over time.
In addition to impoverished diet and nutrition, poor dental hygiene is a significant factor in tooth decay. Over 60 percent of parents with children aged 12 or younger didn’t regularly help their children brush their teeth. However, teaching kids the importance of proper oral hygiene at a young age will definitely go a long way towards developing good habits. These habits will, in turn, lead to good oral health and prevent potentially painful and expensive problems down the road.
If you don’t regularly help or teach kids how to properly brush their teeth and if you don’t emphasize how often they should be brushing their teeth, they’ll likely develop poor hygiene and oral problems. Problems in your child’s mouth can also affect their body’s health in later life.
What role does nutrition play in healthy dental development?
Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Many snacks that children eat can lead to the formation of cavities. Try to limit your child's snacks. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese.
What types of toothpaste do children like?
A good way to encourage your child's dental hygiene is by using a pleasantly flavored fluoride toothpaste. The taste and appearance of a toothpaste can make brushing a more enjoyable experience, so children are more likely to brush twice each day and brush for longer periods of time. Appropriate brushing can help prevent cavities, gum disease and other dental health issues. Children age 6 or less should brush twice a day using no more than a pea-sized dab of toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush to remove plaque and provide fluoride protection. Before age 2, children should not use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
Preventing tooth decay and naturally
In healthy children, new dentin and enamel is constantly being generated from vitamins, minerals and enzymes in their bloodstream. Although the process is slow, the proper vitamins and mineral ratios in your child’s body help counter the process caused by the breaking down of dietary sugars. If the ratios of minerals and nutrients in your child’s body are out of balance, it simply cannot replace the teeth cells properly before the disease, or tooth decay, takes over.
So if your child’s diet involves less healthy food choices and more sugary snacks, sugary drinks, starches, etc, it affects the ratio of minerals and nutrients in their body, and it cannot match or replenish the decaying process. In short, this process of avoiding and stopping tooth decay simply boils down to proper diet and nutrition. Many studies have pointed out that bodies deficient in vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and many other vitamins are more likely to experience tooth decay and oral health problems. According to the Vitamin D Council, studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased cavities.
Teaching proper brushing is also important. Instructing kids and checking if they are brushing correctly is essential to maintain a healthy smile. Finally, make it fun. Kids’ toothbrushes have different colors and models these days. Cars, toys, cartoon figures and much more fun types of toothbrush give parents plenty of choices. Selecting a favorite flavor for the toothpaste can also make the difference. Get strawberry flavor if your kid loves strawberry. Healthy dental care should start early to prevent future problems. Oral care at home is the best way to get it started.
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