Pregnancy to Parenthood approached Dr. Banashree Deb, a credited dental surgeon to share how to deal with dental problems in children and a few basic oral hygiene practices.
Hello moms (or Hola Mamacitas!). I hope the lockdown spirits are still high and you’re having a grand time with your munchkins.
In continuation of my previous article Busting 4 Common Myths About Child Dental Care, I would like to share a few basic oral hygiene practices for kids and adults both, which should help you to keep dental woes at bay. To make it simpler I have put it into age brackets.
Dental Problems in Children – Age 0 to 3yrs:
Newborn gum pads are the foundation of strong teeth. These steps can be followed accordingly:
- Wipe the gum pads at least thrice a day with a wet clean cotton/cloth.
- Once the first tooth erupts try to use a finger/baby brush without any paste.
- If the toddler can follow your instructions of spitting out, gently introduce an age-appropriate fluoridated toothpaste.
Speaking of Fluoride, it’s a naturally occurring mineral in our drinking water and food and is helpful in the development of teeth and bones. Children up to 3yrs should be using a toothpaste containing not more than 1000ppm (parts per million) fluoride. Just for your information, a few brands which I recommend in my practice are Cheerios gel, Kidodent, Chicco, etc. Also, I suggest you check the taste of the paste. Sometimes to make it more palatable manufacturers make it extra sweet which can be risky in the long run. Please ensure that your kids rinse their mouth well and don’t always swallow the toothpaste.
- This is the right age for habit building. It is best to discourage thumb sucking and tongue thrusting habits as they have severe detrimental effects in later life.
Dental Problems in Children – Age 4 to 8yrs:
Let me point out the major issues you will be dealing with at this age:
- Brushing under adult supervision is a must until at least 5yrs of age. But try to encourage the kid to hold the toothbrush independently and reach all the tooth surfaces. Like all other activities, bring out the fun in brushing time too. Make it a family activity since they learn by copying parents. Replace the boring brushes with their favorite cartoon character ones that are available in the market nowadays. Change the toothbrush preferably every 6months and when they get bored of it. Some innovative parents can even try having their own ‘brushing song’ 😊. Also, don’t forget to use the internet to show funny informative videos made especially for the kids.
- Another very common problem parents come across is when the front teeth get chipped/broken when the kid suffers a fall accidentally. Firstly, you need to take care of the bleeding by applying pressure with clean gauze. Secondly, apply cold compresses from outside the lips. Try to retain the broken tooth piece. You will be surprised to know that if preserved well and tended to properly, it can be reimplanted into the gums within the first 12hrs. To preserve it you can either instruct your kid to keep the broken piece between the cheek and lower teeth (saliva is the best antiseptic) or take it to your dentist in a clean container with milk in it. The rest of the information is best to hear from your dentist in person.
- During this age many kids undergo milk tooth shedding and permanent tooth erupting out. The lower front incisors are usually the first to erupt. We see a lot of discrepancy in the tooth-eruption schedule from one kid to another. I would suggest that if there is no sign of (milk) teething by 16months, and no permanent tooth eruption by the age of 8yrs, do consult your dentist who can take a simple x-ray and save you a lot of apprehensions.
- As mothers, 80% of our day is spent in planning and executing the 3meals of the day! And hence, I can write an entire article about the role of having a Balanced Diet in our daily life 😊. So to keep it short, let me just recommend a few basics things like developing the habit of chewing on raw vegetables (carrot sticks, beet, etc) and fibrous fruits (apples, pears) as mid-meal snacks have a self-cleaning effect on our teeth and gums. Ensure adequate intake of fluoride and calcium in your diet. Take small frequent meals and good water intake to save yourself from a world of problems due to acidity. And most importantly, don’t forget to pray that your child likes whatever you cook!
Dental Problems in Children – Age 8 to 13yrs + :
By this age please don’t be disheartened to see your child facing a few dental problems even after taking all the necessary care. It is after all a part of your body and hence, will require checks and maintenance once in a while. So please don’t hesitate to visit your dentist for the child’s dental problems (and don’t prolong your home remedies if the problem persists).
As we know the world is facing a pandemic, so if you visit your dentist and instead see an astronaut don’t be worried…this is the new Normal 😊
By this age, the basic dental problems you might encounter are: dental cavity, pain, and sensitivity in deep dental caries, chipped tooth, permanent tooth peeking out although the milk tooth hasn’t fallen, irregular alignment of front teeth, to name a few.
A visit to a dentist is not a welcome feeling and as a parent, it’s overwhelming to see your child going through some painful moments in a clinic set up. But once you have chosen a good, experienced dentist please be rest assured that the doctor is doing everything in power to safeguard your ward from further discomfort in the future. If you are not comfortable please let the child and dentist work on their own while you wait outside. Also for more complicated cases, your child might be referred to a Pedodontist.
Well, I have tried to address the common dental problems a child and parent can go through. And believe me, I have tried to write it more as a mother than a dentist 😊. Hoping to see ourselves in a better future very soon, so keep hanging in there and take good care of yourself.