It’s truly a challenging responsibility to raise a kid. That is why you can see lots of books on proper parenting throughout a child’s developing years as the child changes behaviour. But how about oral health education? Learning the do’s and don’ts on how to take good care of your child’s teeth is as important as other parts of child rearing, especially in preventing dental disease.
Below is a guide to help you promote oral health education from birth to adulthood.
From Birth to Kindergarten (0 – 5 Years)
Despite the absence of visible teeth, the American Dental Association suggests cleaning the baby’s gums after every feeding using a clean cloth or a moist gauze pad. The first teeth usually appear around the sixth month, and they are vulnerable to tooth decay so regular cleaning is very important. Additionally, refrain from placing your baby on bed with milk to prevent a more serious case of baby bottle tooth decay. A simple bottle of water will do.
You can eventually clean your child’s baby teeth using a baby-size toothbrush using a non-flouride toothpaste or simply water. At the age of two, you can put a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Also, start flossing your baby’s teeth when there’s two or more teeth.
The baby teeth is composed of 20 teeth that will erupt between six months and three years. Soon, you’ll learn some tricks on how to pacify the fussiness because of teething. Remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns the use of topical liquids or gels that contain benzocaine as this can cause adverse effects to kids younger than two years.
Schedule your child’s first dental visit on his/her first birthday. This is the best time to talk about teething, fluoride recommendation, thumb-sucking and other home care concerns with your pediatric dentist.
Elementary Years (6 – 12 Years)
Kids start to shed their baby teeth by age five or six, when their permanent teeth begin to erupt. Permanent teeth must be complete by age 12 or 13. Keep in mind that children are usually not coordinated enough to floss or brush on their own until they reach 10.
Keep your fridge full of healthy, less sugary choices such as fresh fruits, yogurt, cheeses, chocolate milk, peanut butter and veggies. Your child must be visiting his/her dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. This is the time the dentist will monitor your child’s teeth alignment and may advice fluoride treatments and dental sealants to prevent decay. The pediatric dentist will also teach your child the basic steps of proper flossing and brushing.
Teen Years (13 – 17 Years)
This is the time when you expect all the good rituals on good oral hygiene that you have been teaching to stick. But still, continue with the reminders on flossing and brushing. Young teens can get lax on their dental hygiene. They should also limit their intake of soft drinks and sugary snacks. If your child is wearing braces, he may be frustrated with the difficulties on brushing and flossing, including the diet restrictions. Explain how attractive that smile will be when the braces are removed.
College to Adulthood
Because of your patience and diligence, your child will be studying college with attractive, healthy teeth. But before going, schedule a dental appointment for thorough examination and cleaning. It is around this time when the wisdom tooth erupt and if there isn’t enough space, your dentist may advice they be removed. Schedule this procedure during a holiday break or before he leaves for college.
Oral health education is not only important to parenting, but a rewarding part of the journey. You’ll reap the benefits every time you see your child’s healthy teeth and attractive smile.
If you have a child with a loose baby tooth, you may think if you should try to pull it or simply wait for it to loosen and come out on its own. Pulling a loose tooth from your little one’s mouth is quite tempting, but this isn’t always the best thing to do.
Below are some things you should know before attempting to pull a loose tooth.
Why is It Loose?
A loose tooth does not mean that a permanent tooth is about to erupt. Sometimes, children know their teeth when they accidentally fall or when playing. In case a tooth is knocked loose, it is best to schedule an appointment with your dentist so he can check it to prevent the risk of having an infection or even damage to the permanent tooth.
Children often lose their teeth in about the same order that they emerge. The frontal teeth loosen first, often between the age of six and seven. When the permanent tooth begins to erupt, the baby tooth’s roots dissolve until it loosens and painlessly fall out with very minimal bleeding.
If the loose tooth isn’t ready to fall out naturally, trying to extract it could affect the sensitive roots, causing unnecessary pain. If you are unsure why one specific tooth is loose, and you are not sure why it’s too early, you may talk to your pediatric dentist about this matter.
How to Help Your Child Loosen Baby Teeth
Kids usually start to lose their baby teeth between the age of four and seven. But some baby teeth can still remain until the age of 12. Although they naturally fall out and are replacement by permanent adult teeth, in some cases, baby teeth require a little help in coming out.
Before you start, be sure to wash you and your child’s hands with soap and water. Next, check the loose tooth to see whether the baby tooth is really loose. If you think that it’s loose enough, here is what you can tell your child to do to help him/her remove the baby tooth:
It’s strongly advised to let your child pull their own tooth, because they are only the ones who can best tell it the loose tooth is ready to come out. This will help reduce the amount of blood or pain that could result from a tooth coming out prematurely.
Certain medicines can affect the health of the teeth and gums of your kids. Below is a list of medicines and drugs that could put your kid’s dental health at risk.
Medications with High Sugar Content
If your child is on long-term medication, there is a higher risk of having tooth decay because of high levels of sugar. The sugar present in cough drops, liquid medications, anti-fungal agents and antacid tablets may lead to tooth caries.
Medications that Can Cause Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a possible side effect of many medications, whether its prescribed or over-the-counter. It happens because of reduction in the flow of saliva. With saliva’s cleansing effects, tooth caries and other dental health problems may occur more often.
Medications that may cause dry mouth include:
Medications Affecting the Enamel
Inhalers, especially those that contain steroids, may cause erosion of tooth enamel.
Certain antibiotics that are often used for treating ear infections among children are also linked to tooth enamel defects. Some studies have found that amoxicillin, usually used among pedia patients for the treatment of otitis media or inner ear inflammation and infection, may be linked with dental enamel issues.
The results show that using Amoxicillin during early infancy appears to be associated with dental fluorosis on both permanent central incisors and first molars. Fluorosis may appear as a simple white fleck to noticeable brown stains.
Researchers checked the association between amoxicillin use and dental fluorosis. The duration of amoxicillin use was relevant to the number of erupting permanent teeth with fluorosis. By age 1, 75 percent of the subjects had history of amoxicillin use and at the 32nd month, 91 percent had used the antibiotic.
Overall, about 24 percent of the subjects had dental fluorosis on maxillary central incisors. The use of this antibiotic from three to six months doubled the risk. Based on findings, amoxicillin use during infancy period may bring some undocumented risk in the developing teeth. Although the results do not warrant advice to stop the use of amoxicillin in infancy, they do emphasize the necessity to use antibiotics cautiously, especially during infancy.
What You Can Do
Halloween is just around the corner, and for most kids, it means a bucket of free treats and sweets. It’s no surprise that Halloween present parents with various health and safety challenges, most especially with their kids’ dental health. Though it’s fine to eat candies on Halloween, it is best to have a plan.
To help your family keep those pearls healthy and strong on Halloween, here are some tips for you.
Not all candies and sweets are the same, some are far worse than other when it comes to your teeth and gums’ health. If you are going to indulge this coming Halloween, eliminate the treats that are considered to be worst such as sticky treats like taffy and caramels, and hard candies as they tend to linger on your teeth spaces causing more damage.
This is very important. Do not let your child eat treats subconsciously while playing with friends or watching TV. Instead, give only on particular times such as after having a meal as the saliva produced during your meal will help remove the candy bits and sugar, hence lowering the risk of cavities. Another way is to have your child choose only a few of their favorites from the treat bag and allow them to eat sweet after a meal for just a week after Halloween, and then, donate the rest. Many dentists in the US joint the Halloween Buyback Program where candies are collected and sent to people in the military. When you donate your candy treats, your pediatric dentist might give you a new toothbrush in exchange.
Don’t Forget to Brush
But don’t hurry to brush your teeth after eating a few treats. Some candies are acidic and can soften the enamel, so brushing it right after eating can damage your teeth, risking damaging your enamel while still sensitive. Wait a bit before brushing your teeth. Instead of brushing, better drink water to rinse the sugar sticking on your eat and wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing.
Be Careful in Doing the Costumes
It isn’t just the treats that could damage your little ones teeth during Halloween. Be particularly careful with what you place on their teeth when it comes to costuming. When decorating your child’s teeth, use only those made for use in their mouth. Think more than twice when using prosthetics or fake fangs on your child. Though they may not cause any tooth cavities, there have been many cases of these products containing high levels of toxic chemicals such as lead. Talk to your pediatric dentist if you need any Halloween tips that concerns prosthetics or any kind of makeup on your teeth.
You may look into your child’s bedroom at night while deep asleep and find out a strange noise, like two hard objects rubbing together. Teeth grinding or bruxism in children happens quietly frequently, about 30 percent of children do it. Children grind teeth for several reasons; misaligned teeth, stress and certain medical conditions such as cerebral palsy may cause teeth grinding. Sometimes, teeth grinding resolves on its own. However, if the symptoms persist, it can have several effects on the child’s mouth and general health.
Short-term Effects of Teeth Grinding
If the child shares a room with another member of the family, the noise or loud sound of grinding may bother the brother or sister at night. When the child wakes up, he/she may have a headache or complain of pain around or in the ear because of the pressure of grinding and clenching the jaw at night.
Wear and tear of the teeth enamel due to grinding may lead to teeth sensitivity and pain when chewing. If a child has a medical condition or under a medication that causes teeth grinding, a healthcare provider may have to add or change prescriptions.
Long-term Effects of Teeth Grinding
If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to a number of long-term effects on your child. It may lead to substantial damage on the teeth due to grinding and clenching for long periods. The teeth enamel will not only wear down but the teeth may broke, chip or flatten. In case the child grinds heavily for a long period, there is a possibility of developing TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, causing more pain in the jaw and could make it hard for a child to open his mouth or chew.
Aside from physical discomfort, teeth grinding may cause children to have difficulty adjusting to school or have problems mingling to others, possibly because teeth grinding interferes sleep.
Tips for Parents
If a parent finds out that his child is grinding at night, there are ways to help. Your pediatric dentist can recommend the use of special mouth guard to wear every night. Kids should also use toothpaste with fluoride to strengthen their teeth and enamel. If the teeth grinding is associated to stress, parent can help their child relax by reading bedtime stories, or doing relaxation exercises. If the child is old enough, parents can talk to them about their anxieties or problems and help them find a solution to it.
Your child’s dentist can be your reliable ally when it comes to coping up with teeth grinding. Aside from the use of a mouth guard, the dentist can monitor the progress and check if the grinding appears to be lessening. They can also provide tips and techniques to how to help the child cope up and make sure everybody get a quality, good night’ sleep.
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