You might think cavities are the number one dental health problem children have with their teeth but that is just the beginning. Although children do have “baby teeth” they will grow out of and replace with permanent teeth, dental care is very important for children. Setting a good foundation of proper dental hygiene will help stave off problems with permanent teeth that are more difficult to remedy. Here are a few of the more common dental health problems children have with their teeth.
Tooth Decay and Acid Erosion
Tooth decay is a big problem that can be avoided. First, it’s important to only serve milk, breast milk, water or formula in a baby bottle — never put juice, soft drinks or other sugary drinks in a bottle. Not only can sugars cause tooth decay, but many of these sugary drinks are acidic and can cause acid erosion, which can wear off the enamel on the tooth.
Unlike a cavity, acid erosion erodes the entire surface of the tooth at once. So be sure to avoid any acidic drinks – this includes even diet soft drinks. Also, it’s important to be sure your child has enough fluoride. After a child reaches toddlerhood and is able to spit out toothpaste, it’s safe to begin using a fluoridated toothpaste. Finally, proper brushing – for at least two minutes in the morning at night, as well as flossing and regular dental visits, can make a big difference in your child’s dental health.
Smaller children need help. First thing, the sink is quite high for the little ones. Consider a step-stool or lifting them up to reach the sink. Be sure that they can move the brush around at a proper angle so they can reach all of their teeth and every corner of their mouth. It’s ok if you guide the brush for them so they can get the feel for what they should be doing. Some dentists, in fact, recommend that parents supervise or even assist with brushing until children reach the age of six.
The unfortunate truth is that teething is painful. However, there are remedies to help alleviate the pain. Many parents recommend a cold wash cloth or even a frozen wash cloth. The cold sensation helps to numb the mouth and the washcloth is a good texture for biting. There are teething rings, plastic toys – any baby will tell you that there’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a good board book. And, you can also check with your pediatrician to see if an over the counter pain reliever such as infant ibuprofen at night.
One of the biggest problems children have with their teeth is that they get knocked out. If this happens, be sure to bring as many pieces as possible to your dentist. He or she may not be able to replace the tooth in its entirety, but every little bit helps.
Proper dental health care is essential for children. Knowing some of the more common problems can help you be on the lookout to avoid them – and as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Laying a solid foundation of the most basic dental care, such as brushing twice daily for two minutes, flossing, avoiding sugary and acidic drinks and making regular visits to the dentist can make a big difference in your child’s life.