Dental hygiene in kids: Where are you going wrong?

Instilling oral hygiene among kids is harder than you think. Things get even more complicated when parents are clueless about the right dental practices. In an exclusive, Dr Srivats Bharadwaj, Founder and CEO, Vatsalya Dental answers some pertinent questions that every parent finds daunting.

Common mistakes parents commit when it comes todental hygiene in kids

The most common mistake is thinking milk teeth are not important. The general thought is that milk teeth will fall and new permanent teeth will grow, so why bother. However, the fundamental foundation for good oral health begins with milk teeth.

Milk teeth guide permanent teeth into the right position. It facilitates adequate growth of the jaws, thus avoiding overcrowding of teeth and proper development of the Maxillofacial structures. Moreover, if milk teeth are damaged there is a high possibility that during Mixed Dentition (period between the appearance of the first permanent molar until the loss of the last milk tooth.) permanent teeth will be susceptible to tooth decay as well.

In addition to the physical ramifications, early loss of milk teeth in a child can cause psychological effects like lack of confidence and self-esteem. Once that happens, it is very difficult for a child to build back confidence and a sense of self-worth. This, in turn, will impact their personal life, schooling and career.

A child’s first visit to a paediatric dentist must be at birth and then regularly after every 6 months. It is critical to maintain good oral hygiene for kids as oral health has a direct impact on general health.

Recommended diet for good dental health?

There is no specific diet for different ages, however, it bodes well to avoid junk food and eat a lot of fruits and veggies. I would also recommend keeping a close eye on sticky food. We know that is easier said than done. So from now on, get into the habit of giving your child sweets and desserts before or during the main meal. The logic behind it is, sweets don’t cause tooth decay, they are sticky and that’s what leads to tooth caries. At times, even rinsing the mouth is not sufficient to get rid of the sugary remains. Eating sweets and desserts during or prior to having the main meal would help in reducing the risk of the sweets staying stuck to the teeth, which cause cavities.

The right toothbrush and toothpaste

It is best to use a soft tooth brush with a simple rounded tuft of bristles.

Having said that, the brush or the paste doesn’t matter as much as the technique of brushing. Today, the market is flooded with a variety of toothbrushes and oral hygiene aids, each claiming to be the best cleaning agent ever. However, the key is to reach all the surfaces of the teeth.

For instance, right-handers have a cleaner left side of the mouth and left- handers have a cleaner right. This is because right- handers tend to start brushing their left half of the mouth first and are more vigorous than the right half, and it’s vice-versa for the left handers. One should keep this in mind and give equal attention to all the teeth.

The right way to brush

 The best way to introduce brushing in kids is to use the toothbrush as a toy for toddlers as they will invariably put it in to their mouth.

Later, make brushing a fun activity where the parents and the kid brush together. Never make brushing an instruction and rule. When parents pick up their tooth brush, start brushing and show that it’s fun, the child will want to replicate what the parents are doing.

Few things to keep in mind while brushing is to always brush in a circular motion. Make sure that the lower lip is retracted to create access for the tooth brush to clean the lower front teeth properly. A very surprising observation is that even though the lower front teeth are clearly seen and approachable, kids have most plaque on them. This is because the lips stretch and tighten, not allowing the brush to clean the surface adequately.

If brushing and flossing teeth after every meal is difficult, try brushing it at least twice a day. Once before going to sleep and once after breakfast. Yes, after breakfast, as the mouth is already cleaned of sticky food at night, and hence is devoid of any food particles. Lastly, make sure the tooth brush is changed every 2 to 3 months.

Ways to keep a check

Check the child’s mouth for any black spots on the teeth. Look for bad breath, redness or shaky teeth. Please visit a paediatric dentist as soon as you seen these signs.
Even if you don’t see these signs, visit a paediatric dentist every 6 months for a check-up. The dentist can identify the early onset of tooth decay and recommend preventive treatments. After all, prevention is better than cure.
Dental treatments are not expensive, however, its neglect is. It is extremely important that we move from a disease based approach to a prevention based approach, where we can avoid the expense and suffering entirely. We need to close the tap rather than keep wiping the floor. Preventive treatments, like dental sealant or fluoride treatments are highly effective in keeping tooth caries and cavities in check, and what’s best is that it needs to be done just once in your life.

Precautions when they lose teeth
Start by visiting a paediatric dentist for a check-up. The dentist will be able to identify tooth decay and gum disease at a nascent stage.
Additionally, parents can watch the direction in which new permanent teeth are coming. Don’t panic if the alignment of the tooth is wrong during their eruption as it’s quite normal to see irregular teeth. Moreover, this condition corrects itself most of the time. However, make sure a paediatric dentist assures you that it will correct itself. In case an intervention is needed, it is easier to fix it at an early stage.

When a tooth is lost, make sure your child does not to brush too hard in that area as it is sensitive. Also, keep a track on how long the new permanent tooth takes to grow. In case it doesn’t completely grow in 5-6 months, please visit a paediatric dentist to identify the reason it has not come out as yet.

Educate your child not to forcefully pull out a tooth, as this will cause the roots to break and leave way for bacteria to set in and cause infection. Let the tooth run its course and fall out by itself. However, if a loose milk tooth doesn’t fall off for a few months, visit a paediatric dentist and check if it needs to be removed.

 Right age for kids to lose teeth
 The first milk tooth falls by about 6 years. It is usually the lower front teeth (incisors). The others start falling in a sequence periodically until the age of 12 years.
 Deviations in the timeline of teeth falling early or late by a few months are nothing to worry about. However, make sure a paediatric dentist is keeping a track of the child’s oral health.
 If a child’s teeth fall off early, it can be an indication of severe decay. As said earlier, the premature loss of milk teeth has adverse effects on the development of the jaws, nasal structure and the position of the permanent teeth among others. In this case it is recommended that the child uses a space maintainer that will prevent the underdevelopment of the oral cavity.
source”timesofindia”

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