Kids Oral Care: Expert Explains Best Practices For Healthy Teeth
Dental health: To maintain healthy teeth for lifetime, you need to inculcate healthy oral care practices in your kids at the earliest. Here are some expert tips that might help.
Dental health: Children should use toothpaste in small quantity
- Oral hygiene is important for your overall health
- Brushing and flossing are equally important for oral health
- Here are some dental tips for kids you must know
Healthy teeth require optimum care from an early stage. Tooth decay or cavities is one of the most common dental issues in children. Untreated cavities can cause pain and severe infection that may lead to several issues. Parents usually ignore cavities in baby's teeth. But many don't know that dental decay in baby teeth may affect permanent teeth as well and lead to future dental problems. In order to prevent cavities, some simple protocols must be taken care of at the earliest possible. Parents need to teach the importance and ways to keep teeth healthy. Dr. Mamatha B S explains some tips to ensure good oral hygiene in kids.
Dental health: Oral care in kids
1. For infants: Babies can develop a form of tooth decay known as early childhood caries. This commonly occurs when they are allowed to sleep immediately after feeding anything but water. The sugar in formula milk, normal milk, breast milk and juice can pool around the teeth and feed decay-causing bacteria.
From birth till about 12 months, one should gently wipe baby's gums with a clean and soft baby washcloth or gauze. When the first tooth appears, clean the surface using a baby toothbrush and water.
For children between 12 months and 24 months of age, use a child-size toothbrush and smear a thin layer of fluoridated toothpaste. American Dental Academy Pediatrics recommends brushing twice a day, after breakfast and before bedtime.
2. For children: At the age of 3, children can start using a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste which helps prevent cavities. Please try to teach your child not to swallow it. Swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can make white or brown spots on your child's adult teeth.
The best way to protect your child's teeth is to teach them good dental habits. Though they may be enthusiastic but they won't have control or attentiveness in brushing their teeth themselves. Adult supervision is advised for kids. Please keep a lookout for brown areas or white spots which might be a sign of early decay.
3. Brushing and flossing: Brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush with a pea-sized fluoridated toothpaste and brushing on all surfaces of the tooth is mandatory. Brushing must be done in a circular motion or short back and forth motion on all surfaces of teeth. The time taken to brush should be for a minimum of two minutes for both upper and lower teeth. Toothbrush should be changed every two to three months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. The used brush must be washed and kept air dried to prevent bacterial colonization. Flossing is another key part of the child's oral care routine. Teach your child to floss at least once a day.
4. Tongue scrapers help freshen breath. They are available in metal/plastic materials and some are inbuilt within toothbrushes either on the back of the head or on the handle.
5. Diet: Kids who eat a lot of sugary food and drinks (juices) are at high risk of cavities. It is important to make healthy food choices. Kids must eat a balanced diet and stop snacking in between meals. They must develop a habit to drink lots of water and reduce the consumption of aerated drinks.
Visiting a dentist every 6 months is important for dental examination, cleaning, and topical fluoride application to strengthen tooth enamel thus making it more resistant to erosion and decay. If necessary dental sealants can be applied on the molar teeth to prevent food particles and bacteria from building up in the tiny grooves where a toothbrush cannot reach.
As a final point, it is prudent to take care of your teeth. Practice what you preach. Encourage your child by brushing and flossing together and it will be a fun bonding activity for you and your child.
Also read: 10 Everyday Must Do's For Oral Hygiene
(Dr. Mamatha B S, Consultant Endodontist and Dental Practitioner, Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru)
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