Many parents have questions about their children’s oral hygiene. Should they use toothpaste and dental floss? At what age and under what circumstances should we go to the dentist? What happens if a primary tooth becomes decayed? What is the effect of fluoride on them? In short, this text is a good guide to answer some of your questions about dental care for children.
Why is it important to have dental care this early?
What your child eats contains a lot of sugars and some particles remain on and between his teeth. If you don’t use an age-appropriate toothbrush and floss often enough to remove these particles, the bacteria in the mouth will turn the sugars into acids and these will attack the enamel of the teeth and eventually lead to decay.
Again, many people may think that even if the primary teeth are attacked by tooth decay, it is not a big deal because they are not permanent. However, it is important to understand that the primary tooth’s role is to “hold” the space on the arch for the permanent tooth that will follow it. Therefore, when there is a cavity on a primary tooth, it becomes less wide and the permanent tooth may lack space when it grows in. Moreover, if the primary tooth is very decayed, it may be lost too early and will not be able to keep the space dedicated to the future permanent tooth. Moreover, let’s not forget that a decayed tooth may be more sensitive and may harm your child. Your child may have difficulty chewing or become reluctant to eat.
Coming back to cavities on primary teeth, which are usually referred to as “early childhood cavities”, they spread quickly. It quickly affects all the teeth. It can also go unnoticed until a cavity is discovered or the teeth change color to brown or black.
Mom and Dad, don’t forget that dental visits are very important for children
As mentioned above, the health of primary teeth should be taken seriously, even if they will eventually fall out, since their role is to keep space for permanent teeth and to chew food.
Therefore, in case of decay or even breakage, it is important to have the primary tooth filled, which a dentist can do properly. In addition to ensuring the long-term health of permanent teeth, a visit to the dentist will also prevent your child from having to have a tooth extracted by quickly remedying the situation and identifying the decay so that it does not affect permanent teeth.
Therefore, if you notice any problem with your child’s teeth, it is always best to make an appointment for them to see a dentist, regardless of their age.
And even if you think your baby has no oral problems, it’s still a good idea to take him or her to the dentist within six months of the first teeth coming in or before the first birthday.
The advantage of preventive visits is that the dentist will be able to follow the evolution of your child’s oral health. How are his jaws growing? Are his teeth and tongue in the right place when he swallows?
Through these visits, your dentist will be able to provide you with advice on how to care for your child’s teeth, as well as suggestions on how to deal with any problems that may arise early on.
In addition, it is important to always prepare your child for his or her first visit to the dentist so that it can go smoothly. This way, he or she can plan for future visits without any apprehension.
Learn more about fluoride and its particular effects on children
We often hear about the potential danger of fluoride, but what exactly is it? As a reminder, caries are caused by plaque that settles on the teeth every time we eat. Indeed, the bacteria present in this plaque will transform the sugars into acids and these acids will attack the enamel of the teeth by demineralizing it, thus causing carious lesions.
The role of fluoride is to remineralize the enamel of the teeth to reinforce it. Thus, brushing the teeth allows first to eliminate the dental plaque, but also to deposit a very fine layer of fluorine on the teeth in order to protect them.
It is important to note that in addition to oral hygiene products such as fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes, as well as fluoride treatments, children can also be exposed to fluoride through their diet or water.
However, it is important to understand that children’s teeth mineralize until approximately six years of age and during this time they only need a low fluoride toothpaste. Therefore, adult toothpastes should not be used until the age of seven.
Still on the subject of fluoride, excessive use or ingestion of too much fluoride toothpaste can cause what is known as fluorosis in children, a disease characterized by unsightly white spots on the teeth. This symptom is specific to children and cannot develop in adults.
Even if it is not a disease that endangers your child’s health, it is always advisable to make sure that he or she does not swallow his or her toothpaste, fluoridated or not. If your child is under three years old, it is best to brush his or her teeth. After that, brushing should be done under adult supervision until your child is six years old.
In addition, it should be noted that only children who are at high risk of cavities should be given fluoride supplements and that these should be prescribed following a complete clinical examination by a dentist and a risk assessment for cavities.
Don’t neglect your children’s oral hygiene!
As you may have noticed, several actions must be taken to take care of your children’s present and future teeth. Don’t think that primary teeth don’t need care. Moreover, by establishing good practices in childhood, it is easier to maintain them later on.
The goal of preventive oral health care is to assess and preserve the child’s dental health. We recommend that children have their first visit to the pediatric dentist to check on the “wellness of baby teeth” as early as twelve months of age. In general, most children should continue to visit the dentist every six months unless otherwise indicated.