Dental hygiene in children is very important. Children will usually start teething by the age of 1. And as a responsible parent, it falls on your shoulders to teach them the basics of proper oral hygiene and care at an early age itself. However, as a new parent you might have your own share of apprehensions and questions about the impact and importance of your little one’s oral health. So here are the answers to some of the most common questions people ask when it comes to dental hygiene in children.
Tips for Children’s Dental Hygiene
Teething and its Side Effects
An infants’ milk teeth would start to appear as and when he/she becomes 1 year old. While all the primary teeth would appear by the time he/she is 2 years of age, the secondary molars would start appearing only later on (when he/she nears 6 years of age).
Most children experience a few common side effects as and when they start teething. Conditions like irritability, diarrhea and even fever are common side effects of teething in infants and are not immediate causes for concern unless they persist for longer periods (more than 2 days or so).
Common Issues with Thumb Sucking
It is very common for children to suck their fingers or a pacifier until they reach the age of 5. Some children tend to get addicted to thumb sucking and would continue the habit even after 5 years.
While the initial years do not pose a problem in this case, regular thumb sucking can cause irregularities in the formation of the permanent front teeth which usually start to come out between the ages of 6 and 7. In this case, you can ask your dentist to monitor your child regularly during this interval to treat irregularities if any.
The Right Age to Start Flossing
Flossing is essentially done to remove food, debris or other unwanted particles that might have got stuck in between two teeth. Technically, that means it is necessary to floss your teeth if they touch each other. And so, it would be considered wise to start flossing your kid’s teeth as soon as one or more teeth start touching each other. This way, you can prevent the buildup of plaque and bacteria on the teeth. You can opt to floss for your kid until he/she becomes old enough to floss on his/her own.
Teaching Kids to Brush and Floss their Teeth
‘Brush & Floss’ time can always be an ordeal if you end up with a disgruntled kid. So try to make the entire process funny or entertaining enough for your kid to enjoy. Accordingly, you can make the entire process of brushing and flossing teeth a game and race each other to find out who finishes the task first. You can also play games like ‘find the missing tooth while brushing and flossing’. Using brushes and pastes he/she likes would also make the entire process easier and less cumbersome for both you and your kid.
Opt for fluoride toothpastes that are not too concentrated. Don’t dab too much of toothpaste onto the brush. Rather, use a miniscule amount that would enable your kid to brush his/her teeth without swallowing the tooth paste. Too much of fluoride in the system can also cause teeth stains as your kid grows. In the case of infants, it is considered a good practice to wipe the teeth and gums gently with a damp cloth before and after feeding in order to avoid bacteria buildup. You can also use an ultra soft baby tooth brush to gently clean his/her teeth after feeding.
Cavities in Children and Ways to Prevent them
Yes, your kid can get cavities with improper dental care or hygiene. The risk factor would increase if he/she was born prematurely, is being treated for certain medical conditions, or tends to eat lots of sugary foods in the form of sweets, chocolates and juices.
The best way to make sure that your kids’ teeth remain safe from cavities is to educate your kid about the pros and cons of dental hygiene (good and bad respectively). Teach him/her how to brush and floss properly. Urge him/her to brush and floss his/her teeth twice a day until he/she gets used to the practice. Take him/her for regular dental checkups and get his/her teeth checked out by a professional dentist.
Best Diet for Better Oral Hygiene
Children are prone to cavities if they tend to eat sugary or sticky foods regularly. Too much of snacking in between meals can also cause cavities. In this case, it is considered wise to limit his/her snacks in between meals and opt for healthier alternatives like crackers, fruits, vegetables, low fat yogurt, and low fat cheese etc.
Don’t let your kid walk around or go to sleep with a bottle in his/her mouth. Prolonged exposure to the milk present in the bottle can cause his/her tooth to stain or develop cavities. Make it a point to rinse his/her mouth properly every time he/she drinks milk or other fluids. You can also try replacing the milk bottle with a drinking cup as and when your infant crosses 1year of age.
Regular Dental Visits
It is recommended that parents take their infants for their first dental checkup as soon as the latter start teething. This would typically be somewhere between the ages of 1 and 2. Visiting the dentist as soon as your infant starts teething would have many advantages for your little one. A visit to the dentist at this age would enable him or her to check for and point out possible dental anomalies that could become causes for concern in the future.
He/she would check your infants’ teeth and possibly apply fluoride solutions for protection against bacteria. Visiting a dentist as soon as your infant starts teething would also enable you to get first hand information on the types of toothbrushes, toothpastes and dental supplements you can use to take care of your kids’ teeth. The dentist would also help you with the right choice of diets for your kids’ teeth. Another major advantage of visiting a dentist early is that your kid would get used to him/her with time and would stop throwing tantrums whenever you visit for a checkup.