This children’s disease bothers every day, but during many years it remains unnoticed. These problems begin in infancy and proceed, when the child grows. They take away from our children more than 50 million school hours every year and bring a pain.
What is it? That is this disease? Teeth destruction. According to surgical statistics, it is the most widespread disease of the childhood. It meets five times more often, than the asthma, and seven times meets more, than a hay fever.
It is accepted to recognize it as a problem only for senior children and adults. But dental experts and doctors say: Tooth decay can be prevented. And they give excellent practical advice to parents: A lifetime of good dental health begins even before the baby teeth appear.
Main Principles of Children’s Dental Health
Care for your baby’s oral health, even before baby teeth come in. The first step toward a healthy mouth for a lifetime is getting an early start. It’s easy-using a damp washcloth, softly wipe your infant’s gums after every meal. When your child’s first tooth appears, switch to a soft toothbrush.
See the dentist sooner rather than later. Schedule an appointment with the dentist anytime after the appearance of your child’s first tooth, which usually arrives before his or her 9-month birthday. Parents who are already wiping their child’s gums after meals will enjoy an extra advantage at that first visit to the dentist, since their babies will already be accustomed to the feeling of someone else’s fingers inside their mouth.
Make certain your baby gets the right amount of fluoride. We all know that fluoride prevents tooth decay, but too much fluoride can cause discoloration of a child’s teeth. To avoid excessive fluoride, use baby tooth cleaning products instead of fluoride toothpaste for children under age 2. For children age 2 to 8, use no more than a pea-sized drop of fluoride toothpaste. Finally, avoid fluoride supplements unless you know all the sources of fluoride (water, formula, infant dry cereals) your child already takes in. This can be established in consultation with your pediatric dentist.
Establish good brushing habits. Just like adults, children should brush their teeth and gums at least twice a day. Remember, small children, under the age of 8 years, do not possess the dexterity to brush as well as adults. Parental supervision is very important. Flossing should begin when the spaces between the baby molars close down, usually at age 4 to 5 years. Teach children that they must floss regularly, and show them how to go between and around their teeth with the floss.
Practice good nutrition for healthy teeth and gums. We do not recommend that you put your baby to bed with a milk bottle, but if you do, use only water, not milk, juice or sugar water. Just like hard candy sweets, these can contribute to tooth decay, especially when the child falls asleep with the drink still in his mouth.
For infants, good oral hygiene starts even before the first teeth come in.
by Dr. Richard P. Mungo