Parenting: 4 tips to keep your toddler’s teeth and gums healthy& |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Good oral hygiene practices should start at an early age
- Proper oral care will help prevent tooth decay and other dental problems
- Here’s what you can do to keep your toddler’s teeth healthy and strong
New Delhi: Oral health is an essential aspect of your child’s overall wellbeing. In fact, taking care of your child’s teeth, especially if your dentist isn’t seeing patients right now due to the lockdown, is even more critical. Laying a good oral hygiene foundation for kids need not wait for even the first tooth to appear – it can start right at birth! The first primary tooth usually begins to show between the sixth and the 10th month. However, this can vary from as early as 3rd month to as late as the 12th month.
The eruption of baby teeth usually is random, although the central bottom teeth are often seen first. Primary teeth or baby teeth play a crucial role in guiding the permanent teeth into the right position and also in giving shape to your child’s face. This can even impact the eating and speaking habits of a child, hence playing a vital role in a child’s growing years. Therefore, caring for your child’s primary teeth is extremely important.
Oral hygiene tips for your toddler
In this article, Dr Premila Naidu, dental care expert for children and founder of Small Bites, gives us some tips for proper oral hygiene for your toddler:
- Cleaning teeth and gums: Toddlers’ teeth need cleaning twice a day- once in the morning and once before going to bed. Use a small toothbrush with soft bristles designed especially for children. You could use water on the toothbrush until the child is 18 months old post which a pea sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste can be used. Be sure to help them with brushing until around the age of six and then continue to supervise until you know they’re doing it right.
- Avoid baby bottle tooth decay: Though the primary baby teeth are temporary, they still are important and are susceptible to cavities or decay. These cavities are often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. There are many factors that can cause tooth decay – but one of the most common factors is the prolonged exposure to sugar from drinks like juice, formula or milk which remain on the baby’s teeth even hours after consumption. Allowing your baby to sip on the feeding bottle can also cause some harm. When this happens, the front teeth can get discoloured, pocked and pitted – in more severe cases, the decayed teeth might need to be extracted. To prevent baby bottle decay, try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of bottle, spoons or pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp cloth. And once your child is big enough, try switching from a bottle to a sippy cup to help prevent liquid from pooling around a child’s teeth.
- Visit your dentist often: Doctors always reinforce the importance of early dental visits and preventive care. The most appropriate time to take your child to a dentist is within 6 months of the first tooth eruption or latest, 12 months. Routine dental check-ups are critical in maintaining oral health in children. Parents must instill this habit in them at an early age so that children understand the importance of oral care and also get to know the dentist better, facilitating a more comfortable environment for them
- Watch out for that sweet medicine: Children’s medications are usually flavoured and sugary – parents of children who are on regular medication for conditions like asthma or heart ailments must be on a watch as they are prone to tooth cavities often. Some medicines for kids can cause an overgrowth of candida (yeast), which can lead to a fungal infection called oral thrush/candidiasis. Symptoms include creamy, curd-like patched on the tongue or inside the mouth. If this happens, speak to your dentist about the oral health routine to follow.
Brushing baby’s teeth: How to do
Follow the below process as a routine for brushing your toddler’s teeth:
- Stand or sit behind your child so that he/she feels secure. It is recommended to brush in front of a mirror so that the child’s mouth is clearly visible.
- Cup your child’s chin in your hands with her head resting against your body.
- Hold the toothbrush in such a way that the bristles are at an angle with the gums. This should be followed by moving the brush in gentle circles to clean the outer and inner sides of the teeth and gums.
- Brush back and forth on the surfaces of the teeth which are most commonly used for chewing.
- Gently brush your child’s tongue.
- Encourage your child to brush without swallowing, when your child starts using toothpaste, get him or her to spit out. The fluoride deposits from the toothpaste protect the child’s gums, thus removing the necessity to rinse the child’s mouth.
- If you are using an electric toothbrush, avoid moving the brush in circles. With a still hand, glide the brush across your child’s teeth and gums
You can follow these tips to prevent cavities and other oral health problems in your child.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.
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