Dental care begins before the first tooth of the child appears. If they are not visible, it doesn’t mean they are not present.
Teeth begin to form in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. At birth, the baby has 20 primary teeth that are fully developed in the jaw. Tooth decay can occur in a baby’s teeth as well. Giving child milk to help him go to sleep leaves sugar from the milk, or the formula to stay on the teeth for hours. This eats away the enamel (the protective layer of the teeth). This is known as bottle mouth or baby bottle tooth decay. This causes the discoloration of the front teeth. In such a case, cavities might form and the teeth might need to be pulled.
Teeth of the child should be taken care of in the following way:
- Even if the teething has not started showing, run a clean cloth over the gums to clean away harmful chemicals
- As the teeth start appearing, brush the infant teeth with a toothbrush designed for kids and use a little fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss in between the teeth
- As the child is 2 years old, teach him to spit while brushing. Do not give water to rinse mouth as it would increase the chances of swallowing of the toothpaste.
- The toothpaste should be used in very small quantity
- Supervise the kids while they brush their teeth until they are 8 years old. The chances of swallowing toothpaste are more in kids below this age.
When Should A Child See A Dentist?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a child should see a dentist by his first birthday(1). He would examine the teeth and guide on brushing and flossing techniques.
If there is any problem, it would be detected early and corrected. Make sure you see a dentist specialized in treating kids. They are trained to handle issues associated with kid’s dental health.
How To Prevent Cavities In Kids?
Cavities occur when the bacteria and food are left on the teeth for long. Acid gets collected on the tooth and softens the enamel and leads to a hole or a cavity in the tooth.
- Brush Teeth Two Times In A Day: Teach the child to brush teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. Make sure that he flosses the teeth regularly.
- Make Sure The Child Gets Enough Fluoride: Using fluoride toughens the teeth and makes it hard for the acid to penetrate. It has an important role to play in preventing cavities(4). If the water you use is not fluoridated, ask the dentist for supplements. Also, be aware of the amount of toothpaste that can cause discoloration of teeth.
- Avoid Sugary Foods: Sugary foods can erode the enamel and cause cavities(5). If kids eat such food, make sure they rinse their mouth to wash the sugar away.
- Licorice Roots: Licorice can help combat bacteria that are responsible for dental cavities(6). In research, a licorice lollipop was created to help fight tooth decay.(7)
Also, children who wear braces should clean their teeth thoroughly to prevent white spots on the teeth when the braces come off.
As the child grows, the dentist applies a thin wash of resin to the back teeth, where chewing is done. This prevents decay as the protective coating keeps the bacteria from settling in the molars.
Visiting dentist regularly can help detect any problem with the teeth and help treat them. They can remineralize softened or weakened areas in the enamel before the cavity develops. Earlier a problem is detected easier it is for the dentist to repair it.