Dental care is a continuous process which starts in the womb (in expectant mothers) and continues lifelong. Tooth decay can begin as soon as teeth emerge in an infant’s mouth and progress rapidly to cause pain and even harm the permanent teeth that are still growing under the gums. Left untreated, it can destroy the teeth of an infant or young child and can affect a child’s general health.
Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, gain more nutrients from food they eat, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life-as early as infancy
A good oral hygiene routine for children includes:
- Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
- Teaching your child at age 3 about proper brushing techniques with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste and helping them with brushing and flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
- Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
- Do not mention words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
- Permanent adult molars appear at the age of six that should not be mistaken for baby teeth they are meant to last lifetime.
- Asking the dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about early childhood caries, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.
- Teaching them proper eating habits that would prevent dental diseases
In pediatric practice (children’s dentistry) emphasis is laid on early detection and thereafter the treatment of problems affecting children. Also proper treatment plan and preventive regimen for the child is must. Prevention in case of children will help to preserve your child’s teeth for life.
Some of preventive treatments for children are
- Brushing and flossing
- Fissures and sealants
- Fluoride applications
- Preventive orthodontic care
Fissures and sealants
Dental sealants for your child are an important part of the preventive program. The biting surfaces of permanent teeth often have deep, narrow pits and grooves which make these teeth susceptible to decay. Sealants can be applied to prevent decay in these pits and grooves. Sealants are effective for many years.
Topical fluoride is applied to the outer surfaces of teeth. Topical fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel and can reverse cavities in the earliest stages of formation.
Facial Trauma or injuries
Facial injuries resulting in loosened, broken or knocked out teeth should receive prompt dental care. A significant time delay between injury and treatment may lead to a less favorable treatment outcome. A knocked out permanent tooth should be gently rinsed with water to remove any dirt and placed back in the socket. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place it in a glass of milk or contact lens solution, and take the tooth with your child to the dentist as soon as possible.
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity.
Tooth decay can be caused due to a variety of factors such as oral hygiene, improper maintenance, tooth position, diet habits, etc. Once decayed the tooth can be treated using a suitable filling material to replace the lost portion of the tooth. Tooth-colored fillings are made from plastic-like material called composite resin. Similar in color to natural teeth, the fillings are less noticeable than other types of fillings.
Nerve damage can result from severe decay then a root canal treatment and/or a crown may be advised. Sometimes if the tooth cannot be saved then an extraction may be advised.
Preventive orthodontic care
Dental injuries or early loss of primary teeth before they would normally fall out may contribute to tooth crowding. Habits such as thumb sucking may add to the problem. Depending upon the type and severity of your child’s bite problem, your child may benefit from early orthodontic treatment.