The title may seem abrupt to some people, but, as they say, the reality is …
Pediatric dentists advise that a child’s oral hygiene should be a priority as early as infancy. Children’s teeth are especially vulnerable to damages and infections since they are not yet fully developed, and the gums have yet to adapt to the various bacteria living inside the mouth.
Taking Care of an Infant’s Mouth
The baby’s environment inside the mother’s womb is sterile. But as soon as the baby is born, his body, including his mouth, will be exposed to all types of bacteria and viruses. That is why taking care of a baby’s delicate gums and tongue will help reduce dental problems in the future.
Before any tooth erupts, it is good to wipe off any milk residue from the baby’s gums using a soft gauze or a soft, wet washcloth. It is very important to be cautious with the material being used to protect the baby’s gums from abrasions. When he begins to have teeth, brushing his teeth becomes very important. A toothbrush that has softer bristles and a smaller head is highly recommended to accommodate the contours of a young child’s mouth.
Babies should have their first dental appointment when he turns one. It is important to invest in early prevention and cleaning to avoid any complications in the future. While milk teeth are replaced with permanent ones, it is still important to protect them from harmful bacteria and to prepare the gums for a stronger set of teeth. When the gums are not properly taken care of, problems in teeth growth can be expected.
Risk Assessment of Children’s Teeth
Children having dental cavitiesis as common as getting fever or colds. There are many factors affecting the susceptibility of a child for having dental caries. These are carefully assessed through various risk-assessment tools. Some of the factors which were discovered to affect children’s dental health are:
- teeth formation
- food Choice
- use of feeding bottles
- fluoride levels
- social and cultural factors
This assessment must be done as early as possible to prevent the occurrence of any dental problem. This will provide the dentist and the dental hygienist a chance to stop dental caries even before it starts. The child’s dentist will recommend an appropriate procedure during the first dental appointment.
Procedures for Young Patients
A child’s set of teeth is different than an adult’s. It is still in the process of growing, so a lot of changes in their dental condition can be expected through the years. These changes can be easily monitored and anticipated through different procedures and tools.
In young children, it is recommended to have dental x-rays. In fact, the procedure is more prescribed to children than adults because of the expected changes that may occur through time. X-raysare a great assessment tool that could tell whether or not the teeth’s structure is affected with demineralization or enamel erosion. The x-ray impression will be very useful for dentists to decide on the treatments and follow-up procedures to undertake.
Oral prophylaxis or dental cleaning reduces a child’s susceptibility to cavities. The procedure eliminates plaque that may soon develop into tartar. With proper dental equipment, the dentist removes all the impurities that the teeth have accumulated. The procedure is helpful in removing food particles and other impurities stuck in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth, preventing tooth decay.
Start them young!
Proper dental care is best taught at an early age. As the quote goes, “old habits die hard.” Why not build a positive habit that would benefit the child in the long run?
Develop the child’s dental and overall hygiene by doing the routines with them. Parental support and modelling is a huge factor in encouraging good habits.
It is also encouraged to let children identify foods that can harm and benefit their teeth. Controlling the intake of sweets and foods or beverages with acidic content will be helpful in keeping teeth and gums healthy and strong.
Along with this, parents should create a positive image of dentists as friendly individuals whom children can trust. More importantly, they should avoid using dentists to prevent their kids from doing bad habits as this will only instil fear.
I am Valerie M. Preston, DDS with more than 20 years of experience in the dental industry. I’m an expert in restorative and cosmetic dentistry and a proud member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the North Carolina Dental Society. I ownVPreston Dental in Raleigh, NC, a dental clinic known for its spa-like ambiance. For more details, you can check out my website, Facebook and Twitter pages.