As parents, we can positively attest to the challenges we face when it comes to our children’s oral health. We all love that sweet smile from our children radiating warmth and love. Sadly, that is not always the case. As soon as children start growing teeth at six months, there is the risk of tooth decay. If we do not consider proper oral hygiene, then let’s be ready to contend with mouthfuls of rotten teeth. So, what are we to do then to prevent such unsightly grins?
Our baby’s teeth are at risk of getting tooth decay as soon as they show up. Tooth decay in very young children is referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. It affects mostly the top front teeth but can sometimes affect the other teeth. Sometimes the decay is so severe that if a parent is not attentive, the baby may lose their teeth. The silver lining is that tooth decay among children is preventable.
Cleaning your Baby’s Teeth
Do not wait until the teeth start growing. In the first few months, wipe your baby’s mouth with a clean, moist wash-cloth or gauze pad. Usually, baby teeth show up as from 6 months. For some kids, the first tooth does not grow until 12 to 14 months.
Children under the age of three need cautious dental health care. As parents, it is imperative to begin brushing baby’s teeth using fluoride based toothpaste that’s at the size of a grain of rice. Brushing their teeth twice should give good results (morning and evening). Having a kid always demands to teach them a thing or two. Letting them brush their teeth is a good idea, but always supervise them.
When children grow older, increase the size of the toothpaste. At 3 to 6 years old, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and brush twice a day or as directed by a physician. At this stage, children normally do the brushing themselves. Encourage them but remember someone has to be the boss. Supervise them plus remind them not to swallow the toothpaste. Ensure your child uses a child brush whenever they brush their teeth. The children may also floss their teeth but under supervision.
Fluoride occurs naturally in all water sources. Some toothpaste, public water systems and mouth rinses contain it. Babies and children not able to access fluoride are at high risk of tooth decay as it hardens tooth enamel. Most local governments add fluoride to their tap water thus children drinking such water benefit from its properties.
Teething is like a ceremony, an initiation even. Children wait for its onset with glee since they see it as being at par with their seniors. Children experience it at different times. It occurs from 6 months to 14 months. At the end of this period, a child will have a set of 20 teeth. As any parent will tell you, children sometimes become grumpy, fussy, lose sleep, become irritable and even lose their appetite during teething.
The dental Visit
As soon as that white slice of tooth peeks out of the child’s gums, it is time to make a visit to the dentist.
Do not wait for an emergency. It is recommended to see the dentist within six months of the tooth appearing. The doctor will see if there is any oral injury, any cavities and clean the baby’s teeth. He or she will give directions on oral health care of the baby and lets us know if our child is at risk of developing tooth decay.
Other than brushing, what our children eat plays a significant role in determining healthiness of our kid’s mouths. We always love giving our children treats like candy and ice-cream. Who does not like it when a child shrieks with delight? Who hates it when a kid is happy and contented? None of us would want to make a child cry.
Sugar: The Big Villain
As long as our children’s teeth are exposed to long periods of sugar, cavities are bound to arise. The worst culprit is gummy sugars like toffee, tacky caramel, dried fruit and gum.
Cut down on Sugar
Cutting down the amount of sugar is one hell of a task especially with young children. Our kids have their opinions regarding sugar. More often than not, when our children are at a convenient store, they will always zone in on candy. It is not their fault. Limiting access to sugary foods is our responsibility. Stocking up on nutritious foods which promote healthy growth is one step we can take to protect our children. Training a child right will ensure they become responsible. We all want our children to be responsible and make good choices. So, it is important to shield them from things that shape their opinions like negative advertisements. Children are impressionable especially to adverts showing sugary sweets and cereals. In a sense, limiting the amount of T.V would go a long way in shaping our children’s eating habits. In as much as it sounds cliché, charity begins at home. Foods low in sugar, fat and sodium should be the norm in our homes. Our children will become accustomed to healthy foods making them less susceptible to sugary, high fat and salty foods.
As innocent as it seems, we are deliberately causing tooth decay to our children. Dipping pacifiers into honey, sugar and juice so as to pacify our children sets them up for tooth decay. Saliva carries bacteria which may cause tooth decay. Wiping pacifiers with our mouths in cleaning them makes children prone to tooth decay.
Consult a Paediatrician
We always want the perfect start for our kids. Our paediatrician sees our newborn baby almost exclusively for the first few weeks. It is important to discuss with them about possible references to a credible dentist who will see the child and schedule later checks in ensuring great oral health.
Providing our children with the best oral help will ensure that perfect smile, pearly white teeth and a healthy Body. Let us guard our future by protecting the present.