If we want to start our children on good oral health care, we should begin with ourselves. As we all know, the children learn best what they see. When they see their parents taking good care of their teeth and their mouth, they will automatically incline themselves to copy their adults. One of the best teaching methods of teaching anything to children is by doing it yourself so that children can copy.
According to oral health experts, the children should be started on dental care even before their first tooth appears. An interesting fact about teeth is that they are already there in the jaw when baby is born, although not visible. The teeth begin to be formed during pregnancy in the second trimester. At birth the baby has a set of 20 primary teeth, some of which are almost ready to be erupted when the jaw becomes firm enough to allow them to appear.
Prevention is better than cure.
Preventing dental problems from the start will save the parents and the children a lot of trouble later. We all know, that the mouth has a lot bacteria, some good, some bad. It should be our aim to prevent bad bacteria to take root in the mouth and create problems. Some of the things that parents can do from the beginning of baby’s life include the following
Wipe the baby’s gums with a soft baby’s towel after feeds, at least once before the baby is put to sleep for the night. This will remove bacteria from the baby’s mouth which will feed on the remnants of feed in the mouth creating harm.
Start the baby on the routine of brushing the teeth with make -believe play. When the baby is old enough to hold things in her hand, get a small tooth brush for her. When you brush your teeth, allow the toddler to come and stand next to you on a small stool and watch you. Toddlers are experts in copying adults. Let the child hold the tooth brush in his hand do the mock brushing without any tooth paste on the brush. Do it as a play, without any pressure.
Start using toothbrush and toothpaste
As soon as the infant cuts her first tooth, get an infant toothbrush and brush it along the jaws without any paste on it. When the child is able to spit out the things from the mouth take a little amount of fluoride tooth paste as much as a grain, on the brush and rub the brush along. Allow the child to spit out the paste. Buy the approved and licensed fluoride toothpaste. Even if you are using baby tooth paste without fluoride, the amount should be not more than a grain of rice because it should not harm the bay if it swallows it.
When the baby gets another tooth next to the first one, brush between the teeth which is to make them habituated to do flossing when they get many teeth next to each other.
Allow the child to spit the paste before giving water, because it takes time to learn to swish around water in the mouth and then spit. It needs motor control which comes after the skill of spitting.
When the child starts preschool, he should be able to use a little, pea sized ball of toothpaste on his brush and can brush his teeth under parental supervision.
Brushing should always be a supervised activity till your children starts school.
Weaning from the bottle
Start your baby early onto sippy cup as it will not allow the baby to go to sleep with the bottle in his mouth. When the baby is on bottle, sometimes parents give the bottle to the infant before going to bed, and the bottle remains in the moth throughout night. This is a habit which will prove to be unhealthy later. The sugar in the formula, or the juice, whichever is the case, remains in the mouth during night when the harmful bacteria feed on it and starts the decay on the teeth. The bacteria work on the enamel, the outer covering of the tooth, which protects the dentine and pulp. As a result, the baby gets ‘bottle mouth’ or tooth decay in a bottle-fed baby. It may come as a surprise for some people, but even babies develop decay in their one or more teeth. When the teeth decays in bottle mouth condition, the front teeth become discoloured with pock marks and appear to be pitted. In some cases, when the decay is deep, the tooth may have to be pulled out.
A sippy cup prevents liquid to pool around the teeth leading to decay of the teeth. As soon as the baby is able to sip, put him on sippy cup. By the end of the first year, most children learn to drink from a cup.
Visits to the dentist
Many parents wait till their child has many teeth, or till a first dental problem arises, to take their child to the dentist. The easier way to introduce your baby to the dentist is to visit even before the baby has cut its first tooth. Make an appointment with the dentist and take your infant to the office for a social visit. During this first visit, the aim should be to familiarize the baby with the dentist’s chair and the equipment in the office. The dentist may exchange greetings with the baby and they can play a little. The idea is for the dentist to come across as a friend who is there to help. The dentist may show a video of playful animals going through the dental care routine. The parent is with the baby at all time during the first meeting with the dentist to make the child feel secure. After the happy introduction, the child will not be scared to go to the dentist because he has created a good image of the office. Then onwards, the dental visits should be regular so that any dental problems can be dealt with as soon as they are discovered. If possible, you should take your child to a paediatric dentist who is trained to handle dental issues of the children.
Going regularly to a dentist can help problems like crowded teeth. A dentist can see a tooth which is not erupting properly because an earlier tooth is giving very little space for the new tooth to erupt or is blocking the way for it to come out. In such cases the dentist may refer you to the orthodontic and he may remove the deciduous tooth to allow the permanent tooth to erupt, or may put a small cut for the jammed tooth to cut through the jaw.
Regular visits also prevent cavities to become a serious problem in children. The dentist may decide to apply fluoride on the gums before all teeth have erupted, because fluoride hardens the enamel on the tooth which helps to guard against most childhood oral problems.
The dentist will also instruct the parents about a healthy diet, avoiding excessive sugar from the diet of the children and maintaining a healthy oral care routine.