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”Baby teeth are very important”
If you see bad teeth in your child’s mouth, don’t think “Never mind, it is a baby tooth, he/she will lose it anyway”. Baby teeth are very important. They are used for chewing, correct speech and face aesthetics but mainly in directing the eruption of the permanent teeth in the right positions. Early loss of baby teeth due to caries could result in loss of space that is needed for the eruption of the permanent teeth. The front teeth change at the age of 6-7, but the posterior teeth change between 11-13 years of age. For this reason, if caries starts at the age of 4-5, in a few months it can cause major pain or tooth abscess. Studies have shown that tooth decay in the baby teeth can cause dysphagia, loss of weight, frustration and even insomnia. For all the above reasons, treatment of caries in baby teeth is absolutely necessary for the well-being of your child.
”The first visit to the dentist”
The first visit of your child to the dentist should be at the age of one. This visit will include oral hygiene instructions and acquaintance of the child with the dentist. Early visits before any dental problems come up will result in a good experience and relationship of the child with the dentist. Keep in mind that dental caries could begin at the age of 12-13 months and destroy all the teeth completely. The dentist will examine your child’s teeth clinically. Furthermore, as caries is often found in areas which are not visible to the eye, such as between the teeth, an x-ray can assist the dentist to diagnose this caries and treat them accordingly.
”Brushing & Flossing”
Start brushing the teeth of your child from one year of age. Use a baby toothbrush and a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste (size of a pea). Brush their teeth in the morning after breakfast and in the evening before you go to bed. Parents should brush the teeth of their children up to the age of eight. When your child is four, he/she can start using dental floss. The floss will clean the space between the teeth and will protect them from caries. Use the dental floss every night before brushing their teeth.
Fluoride treatment should be done in the dental office every six months starting from 3-4 years of age until 18. It results in the reduction of caries especially on the high-risk patients.
Teach your child to eat wisely. Minimize the intake of food to six times a day i.e. three main meals and three snacks. Keep food like sugar gums out of your child’s diet; lollipops, sweets and potato chips. They contain a lot of starch, they stick on the teeth and thus they are highly cariogenic. In general, avoid food that contains sugar and prefer healthy snacks such as a sandwich, fruit, milk, etc.
Sealants are white filings that are placed on healthy teeth to prevent caries. Many studies have shown that sealants are very effective in preventing the caries of the posterior teeth. They are recommended around the age of six.
Watch the sealant procedure here.
”Bottle Feeding & Pacifier and / or Thumb Sucking”
Never let your child sleep while feeding from a bottle with milk, tea or juice. Excess use of sugars of milk, tea or juice creates acids that can cause one of the worst forms of caries and destroy children’s teeth. A bottle should only be used for a few minutes and definitely not as a sedative or as a replacement of a pacifier.
Do not let your child suck his/her finger, or use a pacifier after the age of two. Thumb or pacifier sucking after this age can cause orthodontic problems such us open bites, or cross bites. If the child is having this bad habit, you should ask your orthodontist for help.
Visit your orthodontist no later than the age of seven. This is the recommendation of the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontists. Children are very cooperative most of the times and the orthodontic treatment will assist the procedure of the eruption of the permanent teeth at the right place and the correct growth of the jaws. The early treatment will guarantee a perfect malocclusion and a beautiful smile for a lifetime. Early diagnosis of orthodontic problems and treatment can prevent lengthy treatment in the future, or even the need for surgery.