Kids are born with no teeth; from the ages of 6 months to 6 years they have only milk teeth in their mouths. From the age of 6 years, there is shedding of some milk teeth and subsequent appearance of the permanent teeth, up to the age of 14 years. This is the Mixed Dentition period, wherein the child has both milk and adult teeth. By the age of 14 years, all the permanent teeth should have erupted.
As dentists, we often come across parents and care givers of kids casually mentioning that their child has very bad teeth. A child is not responsible for poor dental health at that young an age; it is the responsibility of the parent or care giver to look after the child’s dental health. And this care starts even before the child is born. Healthy milk teeth are the foundation for healthy adult teeth! And that’s exactly why there is an entire branch of dentistry known as Pediatric and Preventive dentistry that provides exclusive dental care for kids right from birth up to the age of 14 years! Here are some child dental care tips:
1. Healthy diet during pregnancy: Your child’s milk teeth start developing during your pregnancy. It is important to have a balanced diet that’s rich in calcium throughout your pregnancy.
2. Clean the mouth after each feed: Clean your baby’s gums and tongue after each feed with a moist soft cloth wrapped on your finger even if the child doesn’t have any teeth. This helps clean the milk residue.
3. Regular dental visits: Once the first tooth erupts, take your child for a bi-yearly dental consultation. This familiarises the child with the dental office and creates oral hygiene awareness from an early age.
4. Avoid baby bottle decay: Never let your baby fall asleep with a milk bottle in the mouth. Sugars from the milk that stick onto the teeth for long will cause multiple teeth to decay, a condition known as Baby Bottle Caries.
5. Start brushing early on: Even if only one tooth has erupted, start using a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush. After the age of two years, cultivate the habit of brushing your child’s teeth twice daily for a minimum of two minutes each. An electric toothbrush may add to the novelty of brushing.
6. Rinsing after meals: Once your child is old enough, ensure he/she rinses his/her mouth well after each meal.
7. Do not use dental visit as a threat or punishment: Do not instil any fear of dental treatment in your child based on your treatment experiences. Let the child have his/her own dental experience. This helps the child co-operate better.
8. Let the child take certain decisions: Allowing your child to pick a tooth brush and tooth paste of their choice gives them a sense of responsibility towards their oral health.
9. Prevention is the way: Fluoride applications and Pit and Fissure Sealants are treatments that help prevent decay in kids.
10. Don’t ignore your child’s cavities: If you spot any decay on your child’s milk tooth, immediately visit the dentist and get it checked. Timely treatment with a simple filling can prevent a future root canal or extraction.
11. Use mouth guards for sports: If your child participates in contact sports, ask your dentist about Mouth guards. They are simple devices that help protect your child’s teeth while playing sports.
12. Encourage a healthy diet: Explain your child the importance of a balanced diet that is rich in calcium and fibre for his/her dental health. Avoid snacking on sweet and sticky foods between meals. Avoid acidic foods and colas.
To know more about dental care for kids, please get in touch with us at The Maxfac Clinic on +91 8879745345. We are a Super-Speciality Dental Clinic in South Mumbai, at Lamington Road.
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