A beautiful smile can do wonders! We all agree to this and beautiful teeth do play an important part in a person’s smile and hence the overall personality. It is important to maintain the dental health of toddlers and children so as to reduce the risk of dental caries and decay thus ensuring a beautiful and a healthy smile! The most important question in the mind of mothers always remain that how to look after teeth of her child. This is the foremost question which they ask the dentist. Looking after children teeth is very important so as to avoid unnecessary visits to dentist for cavities and fillings. If the parents start looking after children teeth, as early as possible, then most of the dental problems faced by children can be avoided. Mind it, it is not that we have to do lot of things to look after their teeth. Just taking simple steps and keeping a vigil on their oral hygiene habit will do the wonders.
Teeth begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, baby has 20 primary or deciduous or milky teeth in the jaw. These teeth are very important. The common belief that they are not important because they will be shed is a myth. Primary teeth play an important role in various aspects as mentioned below:
1. Provide Nutrition- as they aid in mastication they help in providing nutrition with unhealthy and aching teeth in mouth it will be difficult for the child to eat anything
2. Aid in Speech
3. Development of Muscles - sucking and chewing is exercise done because of teeth and they aid in development of jaw and facial muscles to a greater extent.
4. Esthetics- healthy, pearly white teeth definitely aid in esthetics increase the overall confidence of the child thus building his personality as well.
5. Help in Guiding Permanent Teeth- they reserve the space for permanent teeth and hence guide them into proper position in a well aligned manner.
Dental care should be started even before the first tooth appears. After every feed baby’s gum pads should be cleaned nicely with a damp cloth to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria as these gum pads contain tooth buds.While feeding some points should be kept in mind. NEVER leave the bottle in baby’s mouth while he is sleeping , as the sugar from juice or milk sticks to the teeth and stays there for a long period of time thereby creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow . this leads to formation of acid which damages the tooth enamel thereby increasing the caries risk. This condition is called as nursing bottle caries. So after every feed child’s teeth should be cleaned properly.
When to Start Brushing
Ideally brushing should be started as soon as the first tooth appears in the oral cavity.
1. Always make the child stand next to you while brushing your teeth as children learn best through copying.
2. Encourage the child to brush atleast twice a day preferably after breakfast and before bed.
3. Give him a colorful kids brush with soft bristles and fruity flavored toothpaste.
4. Ask the child to draw circles with the brush on his teeth. This ways he will be able to clean the teeth properly and will learn in a playful manner.
Diet is an important factor having a direct and a major impact on the health of teeth. As children generally have a sweet tooth and the frequency of intake of such food is very high, the overall risk of caries increases. So the overall intake of sugary foods should be limited and children should be encouraged to brush their teeth or rise their mouth frequently.
1. Water and milk should be encouraged
2. Raw vegetables and fruits should be encouraged.
3. Diet rich in calcium should be given.
4. Fluorides should be added as it has a caries inhibiting effect.
5. Foods needing active chewing should be encouraged as it increases salivation which decreases caries activity.
6. Sugar substitutes can be used like aspartame, cyclamate and saccharine etc.
Habits like thumb sucking, lip biting , mouth breathing and tongue thrusting have an adverse effect on teeth. The effect of these can be as under:
Thumb Sucking decreases and gradually stops after age of 2 years. Active thumb sucking exerts heavy pressure with a thumb placed against dentition and this may affect the position of eruption of permanent teeth and shape of jaws and may also interfere with speech.
Tongue Thrusting is an abnormal positioning of tongue or deviation of tongue during swallowing. It also leads to speech deformities and malformation of jaws.So a regular check up with a dentist is must to check all these problems. These problems in a child should be taken care of right from the infancy.
Fluoride is an important caries inhibiting agent. But its use should be done under proper guidance of a dentist. Fluoride helps in strengthening the weak spots on child’s teeth as it combines with the enamel and makes it resistant to decay. Fluoride can be given in drops gels toothpaste and most importantly through water. In case drinking water is fluoridated then additional fluoride supplements are not advised as they can cause permanent discoloration of teeth.
Role of Sealants in Maintaining Dental Health
Pit and Fissure Sealants are thin plastic coatings placed on the occlusal surface of posterior teeth which forms a mechanical barrier between tooth structure and environment. It is used in deep narrow fissures on molar which cannot be cleaned properly. As these deep pit and fissures accommodate food and plaque which gets destroyed by bacteria and cause damage to tooth structure they should be converted to shallow and wide self cleansable fissures using sealants. Again dentist should be consulted for this treatment.
1st Permanent Molars
11 – 13 Yrs
2nd Permanent Molars & Premolars
Children often get involved in sports and meet with accidents. A child should be always made to wear mouth guards while playing. In case he fractures his tooth or the tooth comes out of the socket, the child should be immediately taken to a dentist along with the fractured fragment and the avulsed tooth kept safe in milk or in water.
So it’s very important to take care of child’s teeth as they are solely responsible for the health and appearance of permanent teeth. All these methods to take care of child’s teeth should be followed while looking after a child’s health. Regular dental check ups are must in order to maintain a healthy cavity free mouth!
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