Encouraging Good Dental Health In Childhood And Beyond.

Posted on: 19 December 2016

Tooth decay and dental problems are common among children. This can be due to many different reasons, from poor dental hygiene to a simple lack of knowledge as to the best way to care for children's teeth. Promoting good dental health in children is important from the outset. Not only will this prevent problems, such as decay and toothache, during the childhood years, but it will encourage lifelong dental health that will ultimately avoid a myriad of dental conditions. Below are useful tips in encouraging good dental health for childhood and beyond.

•Start Early.

Good dental habits start from birth. Both breastmilk and formula contain some amount of sugar. It is recommended that any milky residue is cleaned from babies gums approximately one hour after the last feed. At this stage, some sterile gauze over a clean fingertip will suffice.

•Brush Correctly From The Beginning.

Brushing of teeth should begin immediately, as soon as the first baby or 'milk' teeth appear in the mouth. Use a soft toothbrush and a pea sized amount of an age appropriate toothpaste to clean thoroughly around the teeth and gums. Encourage a child to brush their teeth themselves, even if it means an adult having to repeat the process to ensure a proper clean. This will familiarise the child with brushing and encourage good dental habits.

•Visit The Dentist.

Babies and children should be brought to the dentist as soon as possible, even if it is only to accompany their parent to a routine appointment. Familiarising a child with the sights, sounds and smells of a dental practice will reduce any fear and distress experienced when they attend for their own dental visit. This practice will also help prevent any dental fears or phobias from developing later in life. Children should have their own dental checkup as soon as teeth begin to erupt in the mouth.

•Pit And Fissure Sealant.

A dentist may recommend the use of pit and fissure sealants for a child. This is a clear plastic coating, applied to the molars and pre molars (back teeth). The coating fills any grooves (fissures) or hollows (pits), preventing food debris and bacteria building up and causing decay. Application of the sealant is painless and should only take a few minutes per tooth. This procedure is not a necessity for all children. A dentist will be able to advise if this procedure will benefit your child.

•Treat Cavities.

If a child develops cavities, or 'early childhood caries' in children younger than 71 months, then it is important to seek treatment. Many believe that because baby teeth that are affected, no treatment is needed. However, baby teeth play important roles in nutrition, speech and bone development and therefore need to be in a good, functional state until they are ready to fall out and be replaced with adult teeth. A dentist will assess the extent of the damage to the tooth, the function for which the tooth is needed and the age of the child. From this, they will ascertain the most beneficial treatments. These may include fillings, root canals and extractions. In addition, when an extraction is performed, 'spacers' may be fitted. These will maintain space for the underlying teeth to develop properly and erupt in the correct alignment.

•Visit An Orthodontist.

Many mistakenly believe that orthodontics is a specialisation that is only beneficial when adult teeth have erupted. However, a visit to an orthodontist is recommended for all children seven years and older. At this age, an orthodontist will be able to access the child and determine if any orthodontic treatment is needed. Phase One treatment (from approximately 8 years old and upwards) is important. It offers an early intervention in conditions that may worsen over time or if left untreated. Some common procedures in early orthodontics include the correction of bite problems, such as underbite or crossbite, and jaw growth correction. Early treatment will also encourage the properly aligned eruption of adult teeth and help prevent dental problems on later life.

Generally speaking, a child who practices good dental care and is comfortable with dental procedures and treatment at an early age is more likely to enjoy good life long dental health. Instilling habits and good hygiene in the early years is an investment that will pay dividends for years to come and prevent costly and painful dental conditions in adulthood.