Children’s dental health is a wide topic. As a parent, you naturally want what’s best for your children, even if they don’t always want to cooperate. Children’s oral healthcare is one area where many parents face difficulties because children are often reluctant to brush their teeth, floss, and visit the dentist. But teaching children about the significance of good oral healthcare and proper practices is an important part of being a parent because there’s a connection between a healthy mouth and a healthy body. For one thing, untreated gum disease can lead to a lifetime of problems with your teeth, as well as serious respiratory diseases. Because of this, dental education and proper habits should start early in life, and children should actually visit a family dentist within their first year of life, or within six months of their first tooth erupting.
There’s a great deal to teach kids about proper dental and oral healthcare, so today we’re going to go over everything you need to know about the subject, including the importance of preventative care, common issues dentists encounter with children’s teeth, treatments you can expect to receive, and the restorative services that are available at our West Island dental clinic.
Preventative Oral Hygiene Is a Key to Lifelong Overall Health
When it comes to educating children about oral healthcare and prevention, it’s important to focus not just on good practices, but also why oral health is such a big responsibility. Kids don’t necessarily need to know about the connection between gum disease and lung problems, but they should be made to understand that teeth are part of their bodies, and that good oral care is part of maintaining a healthy body. Here are some other reasons why education and prevention are so important:
- Healthy teeth mean a healthy smile, and this increases self-confidence
- Good oral care can prevent painful dental problems
- Fixing and restoring teeth after the damage has been done is expensive
- Healthy teeth mean fewer trips to the dentist
- Strong teeth are necessary for eating and speaking properly
When kids understand why it’s so vital to keep their teeth clean, then they’ll be more likely to start good habits and maintain them for the rest of their lives. Proper oral hygiene involves daily brushing and flossing, regular trips to the dentist, and replacing your toothbrush every three to four months. Practising these steps will prevent things like gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral diseases.
Toddlers and Children’s Dental Health
Dental care for infants is different than it is for toddlers and adults, and instead of using toothpaste to clean the teeth, you can rub their gums with a wet cloth or wet baby toothbrush after feeding or nursing. Pacifiers should be cleaned daily to remove bacteria. Finally, for older babies, provide a bottle of water at bedtime instead of juice or milk to prevent decay.
When your child is a toddler, it’s time to introduce them to brushing after breakfast and dinner. Be sure to use a small toothbrush with ultra-soft bristles and a non-fluoride toothpaste. Use a dollop of toothpaste that’s no bigger than a grain of rice until your child gets into the habit of spitting out the toothpaste, and then you can upgrade to a pea-sized dollop. It’s also important to get your child into the habit of flossing every day, especially if his or her teeth are touching because this can increase the likelihood of cavities.
Common Issues Seen by a Children’s Dentist
Baby Bottle Syndrome
Children’s teeth are susceptible to all the same problems as adult teeth, including cavities and tooth decay. This is referred to as baby bottle syndrome, and it most often affects the upper teeth at the front of the mouth. It’s especially common with children who often go to bed with bottles, or who are given bottles frequently as pacifiers. The reason it happens is that bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar in milk and other drinks, and when they feed they produce an acid that’s powerful enough to damage teeth. However, there are also other causes of baby tooth decay, including that parents can pass cavity-causing bacteria from their own mouths to their baby’s (through sharing utensils, for instance), and this can increase the chances of tooth decay and cavities. The best ways to avoid this include:
- Not sharing utensils or otherwise passing saliva
- Wiping your baby’s teeth after feedings
- Not putting juice or other sugary drinks in bottles
- Avoiding putting your baby to bed with a bottle
Most children suck their thumbs at least for a short time, and most stop by the age of four. However, if your child’s adult teeth come in and he or she hasn’t given up the habit, then it can lead to tooth alignment problems, growth abnormalities, and even changes to the roof of the mouth. There are many tactics you can try to get your child to stop sucking his or her thumb, including praise, talking to your family dentist, and addressing potential underlying stress or anxiety.
Malocclusion refers to a number of problems with the bite, including crooked teeth, crowded teeth, and an upper and lower jaw that don’t meet properly. If you notice signs that your child has a bad bite, it’s important to visit a children’s dental care specialist, because early treatment is the only way to prevent further problems, such as increased risk of cavities, chipped teeth, and improper jaw development.
Treatments for Common Childhood Dental Problems
One of the most common treatments that pediatric dentists perform is filling cavities because even cavities in baby teeth need to be filled properly. The reason for this is that tooth decay is caused by bacteria that can spread, and that bacteria can even cause damage to permanent teeth before they erupt if it’s not addressed.
Another common treatment that dentists perform on children is sealing permanent molars, which involves capping molars with plastic seals to prevent cavities. Your dentist can also make recommendations regarding malocclusion, including treatment suggestions or providing a referral to an orthodontist.
Restorative Care Services from Your Trusted Family Dentist in West Island
Sometimes, restorative services are needed to fix problems like chipped teeth and other issues, and it’s important to know what services are available. If your child does chip a tooth, the procedure to correct it is similar to filling a cavity, unless it’s a front tooth, in which case a process called bonding is used. This ensures the repair isn’t noticeable when the child smiles. Like with cavities, it’s important to fix chipped teeth even if they’re baby teeth because unaddressed problems like this can lead to infections and low self-esteem.
Another restorative procedure that’s sometimes required for children’s oral healthcare is space maintainers, which are used to hold a place for a permanent tooth. This is often necessary when a baby tooth falls out early, because if other permanent teeth erupt and take up too much space, then there won’t be enough room for the tooth that fell out.
Beyond these services, our dental clinic is also capable of performing a number of other dental procedures for the whole family, including:
- Gum treatment
Dental health is important for overall health, but it’s also crucial for good self-esteem, having the confidence to smile and speak, and proper chewing technique. Although many children can be resistant to oral hygiene at first, starting young can help ease the process, and it will ensure that your children understand the importance of proper oral care throughout their lives. If you do encounter any problems with your children’s dental health, there is help available nearby, and there are solutions to correct any issues and prevent future problems as well. Contact our family dental clinic in Pierrefonds today to schedule an appointment.