Taking Care of Children’s Teeth
When should children start brushing teeth? Parents should start cleaning their children’s teeth as soon as they begin to erupt into the mouth. The first teeth begin to come through at around 3-6 months. At such a young age, it will obviously not be very easy to brush the teeth, but they can use a little water and just gentle finger pressure to begin with and move on to a soft children’s toothbrush as more teeth erupt. Often parents complain that the child will not allow them to put the toothbrush in their mouth. The most important thing is not necessarily how well the teeth are cleaned, but that the habit of brushing in the morning and last thing at night is formed from an early age. As the child gets older, parents will be able to brush their teeth better and gradually the child can begin to brush their own teeth under adult supervision to begin Are any sweets allowed? Which are the worst? Can diet influence tooth health? Should fizzy drinks be avoided at all times? Diet and oral hygiene are the 2 most important factors in maintaining healthy teeth. In simple terms plaque is a sticky film that deposits over teeth. If teeth are not cleaned well these deposits become hard and difficult to remove. Bacteria are harbored within these deposits and they will feed on the sugar in the diet to produce acid that dissolves the enamel, destroying the teeth and causing cavities. It would seem obvious then to avoid all sugary foods altogether. This apart from being totally impractical, would not be very fair to the child either! It is advisable to stick to meal times and give children something sweet at the end of the meal. If sweets are eaten throughout the day at odd times, the teeth are exposed to many episodes of acid attack. Sticky, chewy sweets should be avoided as these stay on the tooth surface for longer and cause more sustained damage. Fizzy drinks are extremely damaging to teeth. Not only do they contain large amounts of sugar, the acid that producing the fizz is also detrimental. Thus, even the diet fizzy drinks should be avoided. Water and milk are the best drinks, however children will want more than that. Sugar free squashes are a good idea and also watering down juices. Braces Does every child need braces at some stage? Is there an ideal age when they should be fitted? If parents missed it, can teenagers and adults have braces? Not all children will require braces , but it is important that they should be assesses at a young age by their dentist as often dental irregularities can be prevented if picked up early. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children are seen for an evaluation by the age of 7 years. The first molars and incisors have usually come in by that time and crossbites, crowding and other problems can be evaluated. An initial assessment may include evaluating models and photographs of teeth and x-rays if deemed necessary. Although, the most appropriate age to begin orthodontic treatment varies from one patient to another, some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an earlier age before jaw growth has slowed. Whilst Orthodontic treatment can be carried out on children and adults alike, Orthodontic treatment and a child’s growth can compliment each other and treatment can often be easier and take less time in a child than an adult. Do braces hurt? Can you eat normally with them on? What do you need to avoid? When something that is new and strange to the mouth is fitted, it can be expected to cause some discomfort, perhaps even pain initially. However, the mouth adapts very quickly and as long as the braces are well looked after, cleaned well and the correct regimes followed, this period of discomfort is very short lived. Removable braces, the braces that can be taken in and out of the mouth can be a little bulky. As a result they can impair speech initially for a day or so. If the brace is worn full time as is recommended, this period again is very short lived and within a day or so the patient has forgotten that the braces are even there. It is important to take care eating with braces. All sticky, toffee, chewy foods should be avoided as these will get caught around the brace and can be very difficult to clean. Such foods will also cause breakages which will in term delay the treatment. Care should also be taken with crunchy foods such as carrots, apples. It is best to get into the habit of cutting these up into small pieces and placing at the back of the mouth.