Good habits in a child have to be developed while he is small so that he learns to nurture them as he grows up. One such good pattern is oral care, and brushing teeth properly isn’t enough.
Parents must ensure proper oral health from the very beginning so that children are always smiling in their pearly whites. Having healthy teeth makes children confident and makes their smiles prettier. If poor oral care persists and teeth decay starts early in life, they might need root canals in their teenage.
When to start oral care?
Like every parent, you might wonder when to start taking care of your child’s oral health. The most straightforward answer is – as early as possible. As soon as the child grows the first tooth, make sure its mouth is kept clean at all times to reduce chances of indigestion and acidity. Once the baby has more teeth growing, you should correctly start oral care.
When your baby starts having the kind of food you eat, they will also have problems that you face. For example, finding food stuck in the teeth, growing bacteria, and more. Moreover, kids are way more inclined to eating candies and chocolate that can promote tooth decay.
You might also have to start flossing for your child. However, you need to consult the best Pediatrics Dentistry and Orthodontics for this. Every child may not need flossing, but if the dentist suggests, you must follow his direction.
Stages of child development
Oral care starts even before teeth grow. For instance, you need to wash your babies mouth and gums with a soft washcloth after feeding him when he is an infant.
As he grows the first tooth, buy a baby toothbrush, and clean the mouth without using any toothpaste. You only need to use water or any doctor recommended toothpaste. After this stage, all of us need to brush twice a day with non-fluoride toothpaste.
Check out the complete guide on how to maintain a child’s oral health from a young age:
Stage 1 (4-24 months):
- At this first stage, parents must prevent plaque build-up in the gums. Plaque is a soft and sticky type of bacteria that accumulates on the teeth and causes tooth decay. This is the reason a baby’s gums should be cleaned with a damp washcloth after all feedings.
- When the first tooth appears, you should switch to a child-sized toothbrush for your child. These brushes have a soft cushion-like top and soft bristles. At this stage, you can use a small dab of non-fluoridated toothpaste.
- A consultation with a pediatrician is essential at this stage. Ideally, the first visit should be within one year of birth, and then a visit every six months is good to go.
Stage 2 (2-4 years):
- As your child turns two, you can let them use small amounts of fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay. The development procedure is faster during this stage, and you should also encourage the child to brush his teeth. You can make the whole brushing session more fun by buying a cartoon-themed toothbrush.
- Try to clean your teeth and encourage kids to brush their own. This way, you can supervise how they use the brush. It would be best if you taught them the right brushing techniques so that it becomes a habit for them.
- It would be best if you realized that your child’s diet has a direct effect on their teeth health by this stage. Try and restrict foods that contain lots of sugar, including sugary drinks. Also, try to get rid of bottles and sipping cups by this time.
Stage 3 (5-7 years):
- At this age, children think they can brush their teeth all by themselves, but the truth is that they are not pro. To encourage them and yet keep your supervision, you can let them do it on their own but stand there while they do the activity.
- Make brushing twice a daily affair. Make sure other family members follow the same to leave a good impression on the child.
- By the time the child is 5years old, it is likely to grow the temporary molars that help them chew. It is essential to brush the molars with fluoride toothpaste, so let them use the toothpaste you use.
Stage 4 (8+ years):
- As your child starts going to school, you are likely to lose a little control over what they eat the whole day. You should, therefore, try to set good examples by eating the right snacks in front of the kid.
- Pack lots of fresh fruits and vegetables for the kid’s lunchbox to make sure it stays away from junk.
- By this stage of development, fluoride toothpaste is a must. Along with that, try to change to a brush which is suitable for a mixture of temporary and permanent teeth.
Best foods for children oral health:
As already said, a child’s diet plays a significant role in teeth development. You can take a look at some of the functional foods:
Fresh fruits are rich in healthy minerals and vitamins and can be healthy snacks for a child. Apples are an excellent example of crunchy, high fiber fruits. Also, other fruits high in fiber and water content is fit for teeth health.
Eggs are rich in protein, calcium, and Vitamin D, and that helps to maintain stronger teeth. They have essential minerals for oral health and healthy for your diet.
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt
These dairy products are rich in calcium and phosphorus that protects tooth enamel. Besides, dairy products can neutralize some of the acid-producing bacteria.
- Celery and carrots
Just like crunchy fruits, even crunchy vegetables with high water content are useful for dental health. The water and fiber help in cleaning teeth naturally and also regulate sugar balance.
The fiber strands in celery act as natural floss for teeth. Make sure you add loads of them in your diet.
- Green leafy vegetables
Leafy vegetables are high sources of vitamins, minerals, and folic acid. Examples of healthy green and leafy vegetables can be broccoli, spinach, and kale.
- Nuts and seeds
Not only are nuts a tasty snack, but the calcium and mineral content in them help in removing unhealthy acids from teeth.
Food causing tooth decay:
- Sugary drinks
We all know that excessive sugar damages the teeth and can cause cavities. Bacteria feed on these sugars and turn them into acids, which in turn destroys tooth enamel. It is thus best to stay away from packaged fruit drinks and carbonated soft drinks.
- Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits containing Vitamin C is good for health, but things like lemon and grapefruit are not suitable for teeth. These fruits have so much acid that they can erode tooth enamel over time.
- Candies and junk food
Chewy candies like toffees and caramel sticks are loaded with sugar and are incredibly harmful to your child’s teeth. Also, junk foods such as pastries, chips, pasta are not at all suitable for dental health as they tend to stick to the teeth and give birth to more and more bacteria.
Your pediatrician is the best person to guide you with your child’s dental health. It would help if you had constant to follow up to ensure that your child’s oral health is on point. Thus, along with all the tips above, make sure you take your child for a regular dental checkup.