5 Tips for Oral Hygiene in Kids
Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is defined as caries in the primary teeth of children from birth to 6 yrs of age. Caries is a biofilm (plaque)-induced acid demineralization of enamel or dentin, mediated by saliva. The disease of early childhood caries (ECC) is the presence of 1 or more decayed (non-cavitated or cavitated lesions), missing (due to caries), or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth in a child 71 months of age or younger. (Source: Council on Clinical Affairs) Early childhood caries (ECC) incidence is on the rise, and the primary cause is a sugar-rich diet and poor oral hygiene and improper removal of dental plaque lead to its rapid progression. Apart from causing dental destruction, ECC also affects both the child and caregiver’s quality of life as it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for the child. If proper care is not taken, even the permanent dentition can get affected, leading to difficulty in eating and speaking. Thus, it is imperative to form good oral hygiene practice right from the beginning, which the child continues through his or her adolescence and adulthood.
Risk Factors leading to ECC
1. Sugary food and beverages 2. Children sleeping with milk bottles or any other sweetened drink to bed 3. In between meals snacking and consuming beverages 4. Not rinsing after meals or snacking 5. Improper tooth brushing
1.Healthy Eating Habits
Every individual, adult, and child, should avoid and restrict eating anything that comes in a shiny and attractive pre-packaged form. That includes the ‘health drinks,’ ‘natural juices,’ and ‘healthy baked goods.’ Lay emphasis on fresh fruits, vegetables, and home-cooked meals.
The caregiver should help and monitor the way the child is brushing until the age of 7 to 8 years. A child does not have the dexterity and hence cannot brush properly if left unattended early on.
- Make brushing a fun activity by weaving stories around it.
- Make it a family activity.
- Sing and make up songs like ‘we brush our teeth up and down and round and round’ to instill the correct brushing motion in their minds.
- Brush for about 2 minutes.
- Change toothbrushes every three months.
- Can use battery-powered toothbrushes to make brushing fun for kids who just don’t like to brush
The child can use the same fluoridated toothpaste as a parent; only the amount of toothpaste needs to be regulated. Until the child does not learn how to spit out all the toothpaste and rinse their mouth, it gives them toothpaste about the size of a rice grain. Once they are older and can spit out, everything increases the quantity to pea-size.
Yes, children also need to floss their teeth, or rather the parent needs to floss their child’s teeth. Flossing has to be started once the child has two teeth touching each other or having tight contact. Flossing can become cumbersome at times. Water flosses are a great alternative for that.
5.Regular Dental Check-ups
The first dental visit should be when the child’s first tooth erupts, and regular dental check-ups go a long way to prevent cavities and maintain good oral health. Ask your dentist about preventive measures such as pit and fissure sealants and fluoride application for your children. In conclusion, make brushing and flossing a fun-filled family activity since children follow what they see, instill good eating habits, and rinsing after every meal. Go for regular dental check-ups and take preventive measures. Good oral hygiene means healthy teeth and gum and paves the way for better systematic health too!
Dr. Kanupriya Kajaria, Prosthodontist, Dentist in Sawasdee Dental Clinic, Alipore , Kolkata
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