It is true that children's teeth are much smaller than those of adults and will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth. Nevertheless, this does not mean that these temporary teeth do not need to be cared for as much as their successors. That being said, periodontal specialists insist on the necessity of caring for these teeth as soon as they erupt in the mouth, and insist on the responsibility of parents, especially because most young children do not particularly enjoy the daily teeth-brushing routine.
Let us discover 5 essential tips that can guide you as a parent in the care of your children's teeth.
1. Set good dental habits starting day one
To make the tooth brushing routine enjoyable, win your kids over by letting them choose a toothbrush that they like, as well as the taste of toothpaste they prefer. Additionally, to make sure they brush their teeth for the recommended 2 minutes, you can use a cool hourglass or a stopwatch, or even let them dance to their favorite song while brushing; this way, these 2 minutes will be over in a flash! Finally, it would be a good idea to reward children with healthy treats or gold stars on a chart if they are diligent in brushing their teeth, thus encouraging them to keep that habit.
2. Protection during sports
As advised by the Oral Health Foundation, if your child plays sports, you should consider getting them to wear a mouthguard. This mouthguard is most of the time thermoformed, bought from a pharmacy or manufactured by a dental laboratory technician. It is tightly adapted to your child's teeth and protects them from any impact or accident that could cause fractures or other damages to your child’s teeth and surrounding tissues.
3. Reduce their caries risk with protective dental sealants
Dental sealants, referred to in the clinical setting as pits and fissure sealants, are “a material that is introduced into the occlusal pits and fissures of caries-susceptible teeth, thus forming a micro-mechanically bonded, protective layer cutting access of caries-producing bacteria from their sources of nutrients”. This very well structured definition gives us a thorough explanation of the main function of sealants: preventing the most widespread dental disease, caries.
Studies show that 90% of the caries on posterior permanent teeth and 44% of primary teeth caries in children are located in pits and fissures, and this undoubtedly adds to the importance of making the needed efforts to prevent these lesions by all means possible. This is where dental sealants come to aid by making it possible to plug these crevices and thus prevent the accumulation of sugars, in that way depriving the bacteria responsible for caries of their nutrients, and thereby protecting your child’s teeth.
4. Schedule dentist visits
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that the first visit to a dentist be soon after the first tooth breaks through the gums and no later than the child’s first birthday. This would allow the dentist to detect any possible pathologies early enough and to teach you exactly how to care for your children's teeth. Also, it is important that dental visits are scheduled twice a year, thus getting your child used to the fact that he should visit his dentist every 6 months, a habit that will not do him good only when he’s still a child, but also when he grows up and becomes independent.
5. Last but not least, cut down on sugar!
In ancient times, when the Greek philosopher Aristotle put forward that sweet foods like figs cause cavities, no one believed him! However, this is nowadays obvious and proven: sugar is one of the main actors in the onset of dental caries. In fact, studies have shown that, in the presence of sugar, acid is produced by harmful bacteria in the mouth and that’s how cavities occur. Therefore, keep your child’s eating habits as sugarless as possible, and make sure they drink some water after the consumption of sweet foods to dilute the sugar that sticks to the tooth surface.
To conclude, caring for your child’s teeth from your home makes sure they keep a healthy smile for life, so why not start today?
Suzanna Maria Sayegh obtained her Doctorate of Dental Surgery, University Diploma in Oral Pathology and her Master's in Research from the Saint-Joseph University of Beirut. Currently pursuing a Master's degree in Aesthetic and Prosthetic Dentistry. Always striving to provide her patients with the most comprehensive, up-to-date dental treatment, it is her top priority to provide high-quality, minimally invasive dental care to each individual patient respecting their individual goals and needs. Currently writing for Bond St Dental.