As a parent, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure your child has good dental health and to start even before your child gets his first tooth. Many things affect your child’s oral health including:
- Tooth decay
- Thumb sucking
- Early tooth loss
- Broken or lost teeth
Even though your child’s baby teeth will be replaced with permanent teeth, it is still important to keep your baby teeth healthy to avoid future dental health issues.
Cavities or tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. If you don’t take care of your child’s tooth decay, it can cause infections and be painful. The best thing you can do for your child’s dental health is to teach him how to have good oral hygiene. As soon as your child gets a tooth, help him and start teaching him how to brush his teeth with an age-appropriate toothbrush. Tooth decay occurs when the mouth is infected by acid-producing bacteria, when the teeth and gums are exposed for long periods of time to food and other liquids, or eating or drinking too much sugar that is changed to acid by bacteria in the mouth.
For babies and toddlers, drinking from a bottle can give them baby bottle tooth decay. Some of the ways to prevent it are:
- Don’t dip a pacifier in any sugary liquid like honey or plain sugar
- If you are nursing, don’t let your baby fall asleep while nursing at night
- Avoid adding sugar to baby food
- Calm and comfort your baby with a pacifier or plain water rather than milk or sugary drinks
- Talk to your dentist about fluoride
- Wipe your baby’s gums and teeth with gauze or a wet cloth to remove plaque and sugar build-up
Early Tooth Loss
If your child loses his baby teeth too soon, it can lead to injury, tooth decay, or lack of jaw space for the permanent teeth. Spaces left by tooth loss can cause the other teeth in the mouth to shift into that space. When the permanent tooth is ready to come in, there might not be enough room for it. Your dentist might recommend using a metal or plastic device called a space maintainer that will hold that space open for the permanent tooth when it is ready to erupt.
Some babies start sucking their thumb while still in the womb. It is natural, comforting, and provides babies and children with a sense of security. Most children will stop sucking their thumb on their own between the ages of 2 and 4 because they outgrow a habit that is no longer gratifying. It only becomes a problem, usually after the age of 5, if your child is still sucking their thumb after they get their first permanent tooth. It can cause the tooth to come in crooked. Teeth can be pushed out of alignment creating an overbite and may affect the development of the jaw or the roof of the mouth. There are ways you can help your child stop sucking his thumb:
- For older children, talk to them and involve them in choosing how to stop and try to identify what it is that is causing them stress
- Ask your dentist to discuss with your child what can happen to their teeth if they don’t stop
- Give positive reinforcement when they are not sucking their thumbs
Broken or Lost Tooth
It is a good thing that we get two sets of teeth and that is because a very common childhood injury is a tooth that is chipped, broken or knocked-out. Almost 50% of children will have some type of tooth accident during their childhood. If the tooth is sensitive, broken, or loose, you should call your dentist. If the tooth is a primary tooth, also known as a baby tooth, this is not a dental emergency. However, if the tooth is a permanent one, this is a dental emergency. If your child knocks out their teeth, find the tooth, and holding it by the crown, put it back in the socket as quickly as you can. Go to the to the dentist as soon as possible. You never want to hold the tooth by its roots because you can damage the nerves. Try to get the tooth re-inserted within 20 minutes so that the tooth doesn’t die.
Helping your children learn good oral hygiene and practicing it yourself when they are too young to do it themselves can help prevent cavities and other oral health problems. Children are no different than adults when it comes to being vulnerable to oral health issues. They can learn the importance of good oral hygiene at a very young age to prevent tooth-related problems.
Article Submitted By Community Writer