Sun, 02 July 2017
Like the rest of the body, oral health needs care and attention from the very beginning.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic illness and can have a profound impact on a child’s overall health and quality of life. Dr Preeti Santosh, pediatric and preventive dental specialist at Middle East Hospital gives us some practical pointers on how best to care for the pearly whites of your little ones.
A total of 20 baby teeth, also known as milk or primary teeth, erupt at different stages from six months to three years of age. They are important for chewing, speech, growth and development of the jaws and the surrounding musculature and preserve the space for the underlying permanent denticulation in the jaws. Their care may help achieve a lifetime of oral as well as overall health.
Problems caused by poor oral health include:
• Pain and discomfort
• Difficulty sleeping
• Trouble chewing, which may affect growth and development
• Poor self-esteem
• Speech development problems
• Damage to budding permanent teeth.
How can you make a difference in achieving sound oral health for your child?
• Inspecting the oral cavity: This is done by lifting the lip to ensure that the teeth have not changed colour and the gums are pink.
• Identifying signs of decay: Looking out for white spots, brown or black discolouration on teeth, or black tooth stumps.
• Getting a check-up: An examination and cleaning by paediatric dentists are vital to prevent problems before they start. By diagnosing any concerns early on, further treatment can be minimised. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that the initial dental visit be made by a child’s first birthday.
The best way to impart good oral hygiene is to start with proper cleaning with fluoride toothpaste. As soon as a baby starts teething, the mouth should be cleaned with a moist gauze or cloth and thoroughly wiped thereafter. For children below three years of age, brush with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste twice daily – morning and night. Teach the child to spit out the foam caused by brushing.
For children between three and six years of age, a caregiver must help with correct brushing, twice a day for two minutes each. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used. Flossing should be carried out between teeth touching one another.
Young ones should be taught not to share spoons and utensils with others to prevent transmission of bacteria. It is not advised to put the child to sleep with a pacifier dipped in honey, or while still sucking from a bottle, to prevent cavities.
Toddlers must be encouraged to drink from a cup by the time they turn one. A healthy start to life includes choosing fruit and vegetables over candies or cookies, thereby limiting the intake of artificial sugars. Water and milk should be the preferred drink for children. Natural fruit juices should be chosen over aerated drinks and fresh over juice. Make it a habit to brush after eating food like sticky caramel and toffees, to ensure great dental health throughout life.
Call 17 362-233 or visit Middle East Hospital in Segaya.