Dental caries and cavities have become frighteningly common in young children due to the advent of junk food. More and more children are succumbing to unhealthy food habits and eating sweets, chocolates and cookies. Under the given circumstances, following good oral hygiene becomes mandatory.
It is up to the parents to inculcate good oral hygiene in their children right from a young age. Tooth decay can be easily prevented with discipline and a balanced approach to nutrition.
Children’s Oral Health Care
Discourage in Between Snacking
Young kids and children love to snack in between meals, devouring pieces of cake, chocolates, chips and other sweet goodies. This prevents them from eating nutritious meals served at lunch or dinner that could otherwise benefit their dental health and hygiene.
Cut down on the snacking syndrome. Limit storage of fast food, chips and cookies and stock up on fruits, nuts and healthy snacks that you can prepare at home. Not only will these snacks add to their nutrient intake but also protect their teeth from dental decay.
Ask your local paediatrician to recommend a good fluoride toothpaste for your child. Brush his/her teeth twice a day and make them rinse their mouth and teeth after every meal.
If your child is younger than 4 years, use only a pea sized amount of toothpaste on his/her tooth brush. You may also have to brush your child’s teeth initially and teach them the correct technique.
Use Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are advisable for children in the younger age group. This is vital especially if your child eats fast food and you suspect dental decay. A dental sealant will protect the tooth from further harm.
Besides brushing, flossing is also important to remove plaque and food particles stuck in between teeth. Flossing should be encouraged and done by all children at least once a day. Get a good dental floss and teach your children to floss their teeth.
Cleaning the Tongue
Teach your child to clean his/her tongue by using a good tongue cleaner. Bacteria are found on the tongue and are one of the biggest reasons for dental decay. Cleaning the tongue well will also eliminate foul odour and bad breath.
Start a Good Dental Routine
Start a good dental routine once the child erupts his/her first set of milk teeth. Initially the child may protest on having his/her teeth cleaned but you need to be firm until the child gets used to you working his/her mouth.
Support the child’s head so that you can see well into his/her mouth. Tongue depressors may be used for very difficult children who have trouble keeping their mouth open.
Use soft Bristle Toothbrushes
Children should not be subjected to vigorous brushing with adult toothbrushes or hard bristled brushes. These can damage the child’s tooth or enamel. Instead, use a soft bristled toothbrush.
Visits to the Dentist
Your child should be taken to the dentist as soon as he/she gets his/her first set of teeth. The dentist will do a thorough check up and check for dental abnormalities or problems if any. The child may bawl or create chaos so you may have to carry a suitable toy or game to distract the child.
Discuss the child’s dental routine with the doctor and take tips for improvement. If you suspect any dental problems, check with your doctor.
Dental Care for Babies
Babes should never be given a bottle of milk or juice while sleeping. They should only get water while being put to bed. This is because the glucose from the milk or juice can cause baby bottle mouth, a condition in which the teeth develop tooth decay.
Massage and Clean the Baby’s Gums
Do a gentle massage of the baby’s gums and teeth with your fingertips as this helps to get rid of the film of bacteria or food that may be stuck to the baby’s tooth or gums.
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Restrict the intake of Sugary Snacks
Give your child tasty and wholesome snacks prepared by yourself for his/her consumption. Prevent the intake of sugary snacks by being a good role model yourself.
Consult with your Dentist about your Child’s Sucking Habits
If your child still sucks on a thumb or fingers, this may alter the way the child’s teeth come out. In such cases, you need to speak to your doctor on how to discourage the habit as this could severely affect your child’s dental health and well-being.
Teaching your Child
Once your child has turned two, it is important to teach the child the correct way of brushing his/her teeth. Turn it into a fun game like looking for missing treasure in the teeth. Alternatively, sing along a nursery rhyme to keep your child distracted. Most children will want to start brushing on their own once they are 2 years of age.
Do not Share Foods and Utensils with your Child
If you are suffering from a dental problem, don’t share foods and utensils like forks and spoons with your child. This may cause the germs to be passed on to the child and may lead to dental problems in the child.
Offer Healthy Snacks
Offer the child snacks that are rich in calcium and vitamin C. These two nutrients are crucial for dental health and well-being. Offer cut fruit rather than fruit juices, which are full of sugar.
Cleaning before Bedtime
If your child has snacked on some food just before bedtime, make sure you clean his/her teeth immediately afterward to prevent the build up of plaque and bacteria.
Limit food Treats to Weekends
The child should not be allowed to binge on sugary foods throughout the day. Limit treats to weekends. Moderation is the key. Do not be overly strict as this may cause your child to protest or rebel, which will badly backfire on you.
With these oral hygiene and health tips, you can assure absolute dental safety for your children.
You will also be inculcating good eating habits in your children for a long time, which will do them good as they grow up.