VICTORVILLE: (VVNG.com)- One of the top reasons children miss school is because of dental related problems. Kids have trouble focusing in school, then parents have to take off of work in order to get their kids treated. This is a common problem which leads to frustration and a negative view of dental care, which they can carry on to adulthood. It is best to bring your child in for regular exams so they can associate a positive experience with their dental visits.
Parents often ask when they should start taking care of their children’s teeth. This process starts much earlier than most people realize. A child’s teeth start forming in the womb, therefore It’s very important for pregnant women to schedule a dental appointment. The ideal time to schedule an appointment would be during her second trimester. Inform your dentist of your condition, then x-rays will only be taken if necessary to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure. The surge in hormones during pregnancy can lead to an exaggerated response to gum disease. Periodontal disease during pregnancy has been linked to preterm and/or low birth weight. In addition, it is very important for pregnant mothers to maintain a healthy diet with a healthy balance of protein, calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins A ,C, and D. It is important for women to stay healthy during pregnancy for both their well-being and their child’s overall health. It is a fact that women with healthy mouths tend to have children with healthy mouths.
Children are not born with cavity causing bacteria, it is transferred via saliva sharing practices. This is why it is not a good idea to clean a pacifier in your mouth and then put it back into your child’s mouth. Prior to tooth eruption you can clean your child’s gums with a wet gauze or wet washcloth. Once the child’s first tooth erupts an extra soft tooth brush is recommended. Teeth can be brushed with or without fluoride free toothpaste. Once the child reaches 2 years of age a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste may be used, however make sure your child is able to spit out all of the toothpaste. Fluoride ingestion can result in a stomach ache, nausea and vomiting. If this happens have him/her drink a glass of milk, the calcium in milk will bind to the fluoride, and protect the stomach lining. It is recommended that you assist and/or carefully watch your child brush till the age of 6.
Most pediatric dentists recommend bringing your child in for an appointment within 6 months of their first tooth eruption. In between exams it is important for the guardian to check the mouth and keep an eye out for dark spots, or other concerns to bring up at their appointment. The first appointment will for most will probably involve a visual exam. Children are more receptive to a dental exam when they understand and are shown what will be done. Most children want to know what to expect. In order to prepare the child for their first dental appointment you can either read them a story from a children’s book, or show them a cartoon about visiting the dentist. One of my personal favorites is the Dora episode entitled “Show me your smile”, which is available in book form as well.
I hope I’ve addressed some questions about early childhood oral health care. I’ve included a cheat sheet with important pointers that I find myself sharing with parents frequently. While you may not be in the tooth business, I think being an educated patient and parent is important. I hope I’ve been able to address some of your concerns. If there are others questions you may have about your oral health please e-mail them to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to address them in a future publication. Schedule an appointment for you and your child during their summer break and keep smiling!
-written by Rashmi Shankar DDS. Amethyst Dental Victorville, CA.
How to keep your kids smiling!
Regular dental visits for the entire family:
• Set a good example for your children by visiting the dentist at least 2x a year for a routine exam and cleaning.
• Make sure to lift up your child’s upper lip and check their teeth periodically. Alert your pediatrition/dentist of any concerns.
• Once your child’s adult teeth erupt inquire about dental sealants (usually around 6 years). These help to prevent cavities on your child’s permanent teeth.
• Visit the American Dental Association website via the following link for some educational children’s videos: http://www.mouthhealthykids.org/en/
• Avoid soda. Limit juices. Limit sticky, sugary foods.
• It is better to eat sweets and drink juice with a meal, instead of as a snack. The mouth produces more saliva during mealtime, this serves to protect your teeth.
• Encourage children to eat fresh fruit instead of fruit snacks, or fruit juices.
• Adding high calcium and high phosphorous foods to a meal helps to decrease the erosive potential of other foods. This can include milk, cheese, or yogurt. If your child cannot tolerate dairy products calcium fortified soy milk, or calcium fortified juices are a good alternative.
Brushing twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste
• It is important to choose the age appropriate toothbrush. This can range from extra-soft to soft bristle toothbrushes.
• Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children 2-6 years of age.
• Brush after breakfast, and before bedtime. Once teeth start to touch it is important to begin flossing.
Drink more water
• Juices, sodas, and sports energy drinks are acidic and can soften teeth leading to cavities.
• Consumption of sports energy drinks should be limited to games lasting at least 90 minutes. Drink water before and after practices.
• When drinking juices, sodas or sports energy drinks attempt to gulp or drink with a straw. You want to limit the amount of time these beverages are sitting on your teeth.
• “Sip all day, and you’ve got decay”.
Limit saliva sharing practices
• Children are not born with cavity producing bacteria. It is introduced through saliva sharing practices. Limit sharing of food and beverages.
Dr. Rashmi Shankar DDS
11883 Amethyst Rd, suite 201
Victorville, CA 92395