Oral Care for infants and young children is often ignored and taken for granted. It in the long run can lead to compromised development of teeth and the associated structures with crowding of teeth and malposition teeth and differential jaw growths as a result of habits and frank tooth decay in cases where poor oral hygiene is observed. Most of the Dental problems are preventable provided you maintain healthy oral cavity and follow routine dental checkup. In this post I’d be discussing how to maintain healthy oral cavity by formulating and following a routine for infants and toddlers.
Setting up a basic oral health care routine as a child eases in developing long term healthy habit for the kid and there are numerous benefits in setting up this daily routine. Routines are so simple to start on Day 1 and gets the more out of us as each day progresses. The Human body loves routine and consistency. Doing something regularly round the clock as years roll by is going to keep you more focused and determined on your long-term goals. There are endless good notes to talk upon setting up and trying to follow down a routine whatsoever. At the end of the day all that matters are to make healthy routines that suit your life styles and trying to live up to it, each passing day.
One main routine today I’d like to highlight is the ORAL HEALTH CARE ROUTINE or a DENTAL ROUTINE to keep your oral cavity healthy and devoid of any diseases. As parents we should motivate and reinforce our kids to maintain oral hygiene and develop the habit of visiting dentists regularly so that any development delay or any decay can be found early and immediate management can be done to avoid long standing treatments.
AGE WISE MAINTAINENCE OF ORAL CAVITY
- PRENATAL – The formation of the hard structures of teeth begin its formation from 3-month intra uterine meaning at third month of pregnancy, the developing fetus starts the formation of tooth buds, so now you know when exactly you need to focus on your child’s dental health. As a part of healthy pregnancy I advise expecting mothers to extend their health towards dental health especially after 20 weeks of gestation. Research suggests a link between poor oral hygiene and pre term births, low birth weights babies. Another known fact is the transmission of caries causing bacteria from the mother to the child, thus focusing on maintaining hygiene reduces the transmission and thus decreased chances of caries in infants. Thus, by maintaining the healthy oral cavity of the expectant mother you are sowing the seeds for a healthy oral cavity of the unborn child.
- 0-6 MONTHs – Dental care per se need not be waited till you see teeth erupting in the infant’s mouth, ideally for long term habit and routine it advised for parents to wipe the gum pads clean with lukewarm water and moistened washcloth/gauze after every feed and at night before putting the baby to sleep. The gum pads, the palate, the cheeks are checked daily and wiped clean for a healthy environment of the oral structures.
AFTER PRIMARY TEETH ERUPTS — The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that infants should be scheduled for their first oral examination with the Dentist within six months of the eruption of the first primary teeth and not later than 12 months of age, simply meaning FIRST VISIT BY FIRST BIRTHDAY. The main reason to schedule such a visit is to identify any disease and to treat it early so to prevent progression of the disease. At home it’s advisable to start using soft toothbrushes or finger brushes to clean the teeth. After the First B-day the toddler has better development of motor control, and its best to bring in changes that can ease the maintenance of the oral hygiene.
Some feeding practices to follow for good oral hygiene
*Avoid putting the toddler to sleep with bottles.
*Ad libitum nocturnal breast feeding to be avoided once primary teeth erupts.
*Avoid dipping pacifiers with Honey.
*Encourage drinking of milk from cup.
*Wean bottle at 12-14 months.
*Juices to be offered only in cups.
*Using frozen teethers so as to help soothe the teething pain.
*Ask about Fluorides at your first dental visit.
>2 YEARS – As the toddler grows its more feasible for him to understand the concept of toothpastes, So ideally when the child can understand to spit out and not swallow the toothpaste it’s the time to start paste. You can start once the child crosses 2 years of age and by 3 they will understand the need to spit out. Always supervise the child while brushing and encourage self-brushing. Offer just a pea sized paste for the fear of swallowing as prolonged swallowing of toothpastes can lead to a condition called Fluorosis and that is one of the reasons you need to buy kids toothpaste as it has very low levels or nil levels of this component.
Brushing regularly after the First B-day is essential to help the toddler in developing a useful habit in the long run. Some factors to address if the child is not co-operative while brushing
*Talk to the child & alleviate the fears.
*Address to his concern and try to find an alternative approach.
*Taste of Toothpastes can be changed if that’s the cause.
*Use the right size of toothbrush for easy dexterity, small brush with soft bristles are good.
*Check for any traumatic injury to the gums due to forceful brushing.
*Don’t scare the child with an upcoming DENTIST visit.
*Role Model – Stand by the side of the child and brush alongside.
*Model them to brush all surfaces of teeth, front surface, insides of teeth and the chewing surface.
*Motivate bedtime brushing from as early as possible.
*Motivate the child that continuous brushing will lead to a bright smile.
*Check on any sucking habits.
*Try to schedule regular dental checkups.
Thus, following most or all of the above-mentioned factors can help you as a parent in starting a routine to help your child in developing and maintaining good oral care and hygiene thus hopefully eliminating any potential dental disorders which could have occurred otherwise. Let me know in the comments as which of these facts are new for you and which of these you are already following in your household. Let’s all pledge for a healthy oral status for us and the upcoming generations.