Don’t you just feel proud whenever you see your child smiling from ear to ear, flashing those perfect pearly whites? More than making a child look good in photos or in real life, a well-protected set of teeth has a number of health benefits that will also save you from headaches—because it’s painful for parents to see their little one suffering from dental problems that often leave the child helpless and begging for help.
Familiarise yourself with everything about tooth care because it’s always better to prevent any dental problem than to cure it.
Consequences of having poor dental hygiene
We use our teeth to bite and chew food. If teeth problems hinder a child from eating food and getting much-needed nutrients, his growth will most likely be affected.
Poor dental hygiene also results to the buildup of plaque, which contains bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum problems if not avoided or removed. Tooth decay happens when plaque continues to build up resulting to cavities that cause pain with every bite. Gum problems are characterised by red, swollen, and bleeding gums, a condition also known as gingivitis.
These are just some of the physiological consequences your child will have to face without proper dental care. There are also social and psychological consequences you have to be mindful about such as:
- Poor self-esteem: Kids with oral problems may feel limited in interacting with other kids, especially if teeth problems lead to another condition called halitosis or bad breath
- Difficulty focusing on school tasks or going to school: Having painful teeth will take your child away from tasks he has to accomplish. Not only is it difficult for him to focus, it will also be extremely challenging for your child to be present and alert in class
- Difficulty sleeping: A child with a painful tooth will be restless and uneasy, making him unable to get the proper rest he needs
Seeing a dentist: When should it start and how often
Babies often start teething between six to twelve months. Some parents think that baby teeth are not to be taken seriously because they aren’t permanent anyway. However, a visit to the dentist when your child’s first tooth appears won’t hurt. The dentist will help you assess and anticipate potential problems such as baby caries, and will advise customised ways to care for your child’s teeth.
It is also recommended to visit the dentist twice a year or once every six months, though your dentist may have a more specific time frame depending on your child’s needs.
Covering the basics: Dental habits your child must develop
Professional care goes a long way but it’s the little, daily habits that will truly prevent your child from having adverse teeth problems in the future.
- Clean your baby’s gums after every meal. Do this by gently brushing his gums with a clean, soft, and dry piece of cloth. For babies with teeth already, put a bit of fluoride, rice grain-size, on a finger brush with very soft bristles. Avoid using any brush with hard, rough edges.
- Keep sugary foods and drinks to a minimum. Kids love their candies, sodas, and chocolates. If you can’t refrain your child from consuming these food and beverages, then limit it and make sure your child brushes his teeth afterwards.
- Dentists advise for kids’ teeth to be brushed at least twice a day using a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Learn how to brush well. There’s a proper way of brushing one’s teeth. You can start with the outer surfaces—first the upper and the lower teeth. Then you brush the inner surfaces followed by the chewing surfaces. You can also brush your tongue after.
Good dental habits should be aided by equally good products. NUK’s oral care line can help ensure the healthy development of teeth:
- Teether: Made of high-quality synthetic materials, a teether can help massage painful gums and accelerate the teething procedure
- Training toothbrush set: A finger toothbrush with soft bristles. Use it with baby toothpaste with no fluoride but with enzymes to strengthen the oral immune system
- Cleaning and brushing trainers: These help young children get used to cleaning their teeth by themselves. Each comes with a protective ring to prevent the trainers from being put too far into the mouth and can be used as a stand
- Starter toothbrush: Small, curved brush head with rounded, soft bristles that is ideal for learning to clean the teeth independently