A healthy set of teeth is the only aesthetic requisite for a great smile. And you can gift that to your children right from the very beginning. Practicing good oral hygiene is easy enough when you are an adult but inculcating it in children takes a little more effort.
Children have milk teeth that eventually fall off but these are easily susceptible to Early Childhood Caries or cavities. It is crucial for caregivers to know how to prevent tooth decay in children in order to help them lead a healthier life.
5 Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children
Do Not Share Spoons/Cups with Children
Whether you have cavities or not, never lick a spoon or finger and then offer it to your children. You will be unwittingly transferring bacteria-laden saliva into his/her mouth which can attack healthy milk teeth. As a general practice, keep separate bowls, spoons, forks, cups and bottles for your kids and teach them to identify them so that they don’t pick up your glass for a drink of water. Remember, tooth decay is contagious from parents to children simply by affectionately eating off the same plate.
Do Not Allow Prolonged Sucking on Bottles/Pacifiers
If your child is on the bottle, let him/her finish the drink and then put it away. Bottles should never be used as pacifiers. The longer the liquid or fluid stays in the child’s mouth, the more his/her teeth are exposed to decay. Never coat or dip a pacifier in sweet liquids, honey, sugar, chocolate or any food for that matter. Prolonged sucking on such pacifiers causes the bacteria to attack the enamel which is generally immature and not as hard as the enamel in adult teeth.
Brushing Techniques and Frequency
You cannot stave off tooth decay by just brushing the outer side of your teeth. Most kids feel the job is done with a quick up-down, in-out technique. It takes a full 2 minutes to properly brush your teeth. Start by brushing flat downwards on the molars, both upper and lower rows of teeth, then bring both rows together and brush in a circular motion. Clean both the outside and inside of your teeth in this fashion.
Buy brushes with soft bristles which can easily bend and slip between the teeth for a more thorough cleaning. Once the first molars appear, teach your kids to brush vigorously down on the top of the molar to dislodge food particles. Brush your children’s teeth after every meal or at least twice a day, once on rising and once before bedtime. Children learn by imitation so there is no better way to teach them than by letting them watch you do it.
Teach Children to Make Good Food Choices
Gummy bears, lollipops, boiled confectionery, caramels, toffees, chew ups and cookies are purveyors of tooth decay simply because they stick to the teeth and are hard to get rid of, even while practicing good oral hygiene. Avoid stocking these at home and allow your children to eat them only occasionally. There are other delightful treats that children can enjoy like yogurt, ice creams and even chocolates, so long as they are good quality and eaten in small quantities.
Care of Baby Teeth
After meals, wipe your baby’s gums and teeth with a clean soft washcloth. If your child is over 9 months, smear a dash of fluoride-free toothpaste (the kind that is marked as safe for children to swallow) on a soft baby toothbrush and gently brush. Check with a dentist for children ages 2-6, on whether a fluoridated toothpaste is necessary.