Healthy teeth are important for your child’s overall health.They help them to eat as well as aid in speech .So dental health care for children is essential from birth. Poor oral hygiene leads to cavities , infections and other tooth problems.Practicing healthy eating habits can prevent or reduce tooth decay.
Age wise oral health care for children
Important points to consider:
Infants (0 to 6 months)
- Always clean your infant’s gums with a moist washcloth or Muslin cloth after feeding.
- Gently massage the gum tissue.
- Do not bottle feed your baby while sleeping.
- Teething begins between 4 and 6 months of age, at that time gums may be red and swollen, also salivation increases making the baby to drool.To ease the symptoms,use chilled teething rings or cold wet washcloth.
6 to 18 months
- Between six to eight months of age baby’s first tooth erupts, so it’s important to take care of it from the start.
- Use soft baby brush to clean that tooth and the remaining gum area.Do not use any toothpaste.
- Begin to wean your baby from bottle as they start eating solids.
- Start using a cup for juice and water instead of feeding bottle.
- Promote healthy eating habits.
- Avoid sweetened beverages.
- Prefer giving whole fruits over fruit juice .
- Do not introduce chocolates to your child, give dates or raisins instead.
- Be familiar with the normal appearance of your child’s teeth and gums and check them regularly.
- Brush their teeth twice a day and do your child first dental exam in a dental clinic during this period.It would be a great start for the dental health care for children.
18 months to 5 years
- By 2 to 3 years, all the milk teeth usually erupt in your child’s mouth. So use of feeding bottle and pacifiers should be completely stopped.
- From 2 years of age you can start using toothpaste (pea sized amount), mostly containing fluoride, for brushing.
- Make them spit out the paste, but even if they swallow a little it’s ok, don’t worry.
- Show them how to brush and make them do it themselves while you supervise them.
5 years to preteen
- Permanent teeth starts to erupt from 6 years of age so it’s very important that children of this age follow a proper oral care routine
- Brushing twice as well as flossing between the teeth is very important ,as they have a combination of both milk teeth and permanent teeth.
- Children who play sports should wear a mouth guard to protect their teeth from chipping off if they fall.
- Incorporate healthy eating habits.
- Limit sweet snacks between meals.
- Avoid soda or sweetened drinks.
- Avoid junk food.
- Gargling with water after eating is also important.
- As preteens become more conscious of their appearance ,it can be helpful to remind them that good oral care can make them look and feel better.
How to make dental hygiene fun with your kids?
- Let your child choose their toothbrush, any colour/ character they like.
- Let them pick the toothpaste as well, any colour or flavour they want.
- Speak to them about dental hygiene. Tell them stories about the same.
- Make them brush for at least two minutes and appreciate them for their clean teeth.
- Do pretend play with them to make them understand the consequences of unhealthy eating habits.
When to see a dentist ?
- Before the age of 2 years your child should have his/her first dental visit.
- Make the visit a fun activity for the child. It will give the dentist a chance to look for early problems with your child’s teeth.Also it will make your child more comfortable for next dental visits, as he won’t be getting any treatment the first time.
Contact your dentist immediately if-
- Your child has tooth pain or a swelling in his/her mouth.
- Your child loses a permanent tooth during a fall or an accident ( if you find the tooth, put it in milk and give it to the dentist as he/she may be able to reattach it).
As rightly said, ‘ Prevention is better than cure’.Be careful and informed about your child’s dental care to avoid unwanted dental problems.
About the Author-
Dr. Harshal Princely Athaide (B.D.S from MUHS) is a trusted and renowned dentist from Vasai, Maharashtra, India.
She runs a family dental health care clinic since the last 10 years.Her clinic offers advanced & modern dental care solutions.