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Children’s Dental Hygiene: What Parents Should Know

Encouraging dental hygiene is no less than an investment, especially for kids, and ensures that their teeth remain healthy and intact for decades to come. It is never too early to begin with an oral healthcare regimen. It should begin before the first tooth erupts because the 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws, at the time of birth. For the first twelve months, baby’s gums should be gently wiped with a moist washcloth or a gauze pad. This would prevent the bacteria build up.

Switch to a soft children’s toothbrush as soon as the first tooth appears. Clean the tooth’s surface using water and the toothbrush. This should be done twice a day, after the breakfast and before bedtime. Fluoride toothpaste should be strictly avoided unless your dentist explicitly recommends it. Primary teeth are anyway going to fall. Don’t let this fact fool you. Primary teeth are equally important; they aid in speech development and lay the foundation for permanent teeth. Moreover, they can fall victim to decay as soon as they appear. The good news is that tooth decay can be prevented.

By the time your child attains preschool age, make sure they have learnt how to comfortably brush their own teeth. Once they can successfully spit the excessive toothpaste, start using fluoride toothpaste. This is also the correct age to introduce flossing. Parents would have to guide their child and use a floss pick (flossers).Keep a regular tab on their teeth and gum lines. Discoloured areas and chalky lines indicate tooth decay.

Some general guidelines to be kept in mind:

– The toothbrush should be angled at 45° to the gums

– Toothbrush should gently move back and forth

– Tongue should be brushed for bacteria removal

– Teeth should be brushed twice a day for effective plaque removal

– Flossing between the teeth is crucial if tartar formation is to be prevented

– Sticky/starchy foods and sweets should be avoided

– Limit the snacks between meals

– Involve a diet rich in phosphorous and calcium

– Use a fluoridated toothpaste/water/fluoride supplements

Most importantly, practice what you preach. It sends a good message and inculcates good oral hygiene habits in your children. Brush along with your children. Make it more of a fun activity rather than a chore. Lastly, schedule regular appointments with your dentist for cleanings and checkups. It not only prevents diseases but also reverses early gum problems.

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