The effects of oral hygiene may seem to be limited to the teeth, however, lack of it especially in early childhood may have serious implications on overall health, affecting the child’s nutritional level. Unfortunately, there seems to be a belief among parents that since child’s milk teeth are going to fall off they don’t require much care. Not caring for the milk teeth can cause serious implications such as blocking of the coming adult teeth causing them to be crooked, permanent teeth infections, etc.
Let us look at few simple tips that can help save the child’s teeth from decay and subsequent loss
- Initiate oral hygiene even before the first tooth erupts –wipe the baby gums with a clean gauze/soft cloth after each feeding. Brushing your child’s teeth should start as soon as the first tooth erupts
- Initially use only a smear of non fluoridated toothpaste
- Fluoride tooth paste in a pea size amount can be used for cleaning when you feel that your child can spit out the toothpaste. Fluoride provides protection from caries
- Supervision is necessary while the child brushes, encourage your child to brush twice daily especially after a meal and before going to bed
- Eat tooth healthy food like fresh fruits and vegetables which will enhance the salivary flow and helps to wash away food particles
- Make an appointment to visit the dentist by the age of one. Follow up after every 6 months. Lengthy procedures such as braces can be avoided if detected early by the dentist.
- If the child is suspected of high risk of caries consider the application of pit and fissure sealants. Consider fluoride therapy if the drinking water is deficient in optimal fluoride levels.
- Do not substitute breast milk or plain water with fruit juices /sweetened water
- Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but plain water otherwise it can cause a specific pattern of caries in the front teeth
- Limit exposure to sweet and sticky food in the child’s diet like candies ,cookies, biscuits, etc.
GOOD ORAL HABITS IF STARTED EARLY WILL LAST A LIFETIME. SO LET’S START NOW!!
(The writer, Dr. Sarika Mawale, is a practising dentist at ‘Your Smile Dental’ center at Shop No. 17, Grd floor, Avenue Bld, Behind Neelkanth Sweets, Plot 12, Sec 20, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, 9820036270. She along with her team addresses all kinds of dental treatment modalities with the best quality equipments at affordable prices.)