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Children’s oral health

It is possible for children to remain cavity free through adolescence and even as adult. This can be achieved through appropriate diet and preventative dental care. By developing basic plans for dental wellness and sensible nutritional strategies you can easily help to improve your whole family’s dental health.

Healthy and strong teeth are an important part of a child’s general health. Teeth are one of a child’s most important possessions. How you look after their teeth from when they are babies will make a difference to how they grow and how healthy they are.

The development of child’s teeth begins while the baby is in the womb and teething usually begins between the ages of six and nine months. Children usually have their full set of 20 baby teeth by three years of age and then loose these teeth by 12 years of age. At about the age of six years, the first permanent teeth erupt and by the age of 18 years, there will be 32 permanent teeth in a teenager’s mouth.

When should they start brushing and flossing?

Get your child to brush their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, every day from around 18 months of age and teach them to floss daily from 5 years of age. This will not only encourage a habit of brushing and flossing teeth but also ensure the removal of plaque from between their teeth before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by professional cleaning.

You will need to help your child brush until they are old enough to do it themselves. This is usually from around six to seven years of age and they will improve their flossing by 15 years of age. Don’t forget to encourage your child to spit and not swallow toothpaste.

Nutrition and Oral Health

A balanced diet is a good step towards growth, especially the growth of teeth and their adjacent structures. The nutritional factors which are most important to the health of your teeth and their adjacent structures are adequate calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, protein, and Vitamins A, C, D and fluoride.

Nutrition and oral health have a complex relationship, with various foods having a both positive and negative effect on your teeth. This is why our eating habits are so important. Sugar, for example, is very cariogenic or cavity-causing. Simply, bacteria living in the mouth, when provided dietary carbohydrates, grow and increase in number, producing acid which lower the PH of the mouth, and eventually cause tooth decay.

The structure and anatomy of the molar teeth are such that food can stay in the grooves and the fissures that can cause decay. In order to prevent this risk, there are a thin plastic coating that can be applied by the dentist to fill up these grooves and fissures called “dental sealant” or “fissure sealant” to prevent decay.

A few helpful hints:

  • Some dental diseases such as gum disease or dental caries can be exacerbated by hormonal changes during pregnancy. Ensure you maintain your regular checkups with your dental clinicians.
  • To avoid “Baby Bottle Syndrome” try not to let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in his/her mouth.
  • Mouth guards are highly recommended for children and teenagers playing any sport, as simple as riding their bikes.
  • Kids will be kids and accidents can happen at home or in the playground. If a tooth is broken or chipped, save any fragments or the whole tooth in a glass of milk and make an emergency visit to your dentist, hospital or medical center. Don’t delay, all injuries, even those to “baby teeth” should be examined.
  • Avoid sport drinks and soft drinks
  • Drink fluoridated water
  • Chew sugar-free chewing gum
  • Eat healthy snacks like nuts and cheese
  • Visit your dentist regularly

By Dr Mehri Eshraghi, Dentist and Teachers Dental Clinical Director

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