A child's oral and dental health is an important part of his or her overall health. It is never too early to start teaching children about good oral hygiene. Early check-ups help prevent cavities and tooth decay, which can cause pain, difficulty in concentrating, and other medical problems. Many children today are exposed to several dental diseases, and tooth decay is quite common among them.
In conversation with Rising Kashmir’s Misabah Bhat, Dr. Afshan Rahmat, Dental Surgeon at Public Health Centre Brein talks about the dental health in children.
When should children get their first dental exam?
It is recommended that a child is taken to the dentist when he is a year old or within six months after the first tooth comes out.
At what age can children start brushing their own teeth?
Around age six many children are responsible enough and have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth thoroughly. But the time frame will vary depending on the needs, development, and maturity of each child. However, supervision is required.
When should children start flossing?
In general, it is best to begin flossing as soon as your child’s teeth start to fit closely together (i.e., when your child has two teeth). This usually happens between the ages of two and six years.
When should children begin using fluoride toothpaste and how much should be used?
A child can start fluoridated toothpaste when they begin to get their baby teeth. However, it is important to only use the right amount based on their age.
For babies: use a tiny amount of toothpaste, such as the size of a grain of rice.
For three years old and older: use pea sized amounts of toothpaste to brush their teeth.
How can one improve the child’s dental health?
· Have kids brush their teeth twice a day in the morning and before bed.
· Floss once a day.
· Rinse after eating.
· Offer a healthy diet that is light on sugary drinks and treats.
· Schedule regular visits with your dentists.
How bad oral health affects a child?
There are a number of conditions that can share a link with poor oral health.
· Impaired speech – due to early tooth loss caused by advanced decay.
· Difficulty sleeping – infants and children with chronic dental pain may have difficulty in sleeping. Poor diet, poor oral health, and loss of teeth can lead to difficulty in chewing which in turn leads to a more modified diet that lacks proper nutrition.
· Deteriorating educational performance- chronic dental pain can lead to inability to concentrate on early learning experiences and difficulty completing homework.
What are the signs of poor oral hygiene in children?
Signs of poor oral hygiene in children can be:
· Bleeding and swollen gums.
· Bad breath.
· Growths within the mouth.
· Attractions to tongue.
What are the main factors that affect dental health in children?
The frequency of brushing and the intake of sugary foods and drinks like soda, chocolate, etc. are the main factors that affect dental health in children.
What causes weak teeth in children?
Enamel can weaken because of illness and genetics and of course poor oral hygiene habits. Brushing too hard will eventually cause the enamel to weaken.
For how long should children brush their teeth?
Brushing should be done for about two minutes.
How many times a child should brush his/her teeth in a day?
A Child should brush twice a day – In the morning and before going to bed.
What causes cavities in a child’s teeth?
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria. It happens when foods containing sugar are left on teeth. Bacteria in the mouth change this food, making acids overtime. The acids made by the bacteria eat away at the tooth enamel, causing cavities.
Can breastfeeding cause cavities?
It is a common misconception that some new parents have. Breast feeding does not cause cavities. However, it is advised to regularly wipe down the gums and teeth post feeding.
How to prevent the child from getting cavities?
· Start good oral habits early.
· Teach kids to brush at least twice a day, preferably with fluoridated toothpaste.
· Limit sugary foods, juices, candy (especially sticky candy). If your kid eats these foods, have them rinse their mouth, brush their teeth after eating.
How often should the child get his teeth checked?
Children should see the dentist every six months i.e., twice a year. Some dentists may schedule visits more often, such as every three months.
What kind of toothbrush should a child use?
It is recommended to use the toothbrush with soft bristles that are made of a round-ended material. These types of brush heads clean kid’s teeth well and aren’t rough on their gums.
How important are dental checkups for children?
The sooner children begin getting regular dental checkups, the healthier their mouth will stay throughout their lives. Dental checkups help prevent cavities and tooth-decay which lead to pain, trouble concentrating and other medical issues.
Can a child use mouthwash?
Kids younger than six years of age are not recommended to use mouthwashes as they are more likely to swallow it. Even after they turn six, they should be supervised by an adult.
How can tooth decay be prevented in children?
Brushing teeth at least twice a day with fluoride containing toothpaste, after each meal and especially before going to bed but it is important to choose the right amount of toothpaste.
Cleaning teeth with dental floss and eating nutritious and balanced meals and avoiding sugary foods. Also take children to the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
How does diet affect a child’s dental health?
Unhealthy diet and poor nutrition affect the teeth and growth of jaws during development and later during life course. Most significant effect of diet is in the mouth, particularly in the development of dental care.
How to treat toothache in children?
Toothache can be relieved by using plain water with a teaspoon of table salt. Over the counter medicine can be used too but the most thorough solution is to see a pediatric dentist.
What are the best ways for children to practice good oral hygiene at home?
Make dental hygiene fun for them, let them choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste to make cleaning their teeth more enjoyable, you can create your own reward system.
How to avoid bad breath in children?
Improve oral hygiene - simple! Through brushing for two minutes, correct flossing and tongue brushing, scrapping is the key.
Some dental health tips for children.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to brush their teeth, make them eat healthy food and avoid sugary foods. Make oral health a fun habit.