Pedodontist Dr. Mai Kamar

How to Maintain Your Kid's Oral Health

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Prevention is always key to better health and well-being. The same goes for the teeth.

Prevention is always key to better health and well-being. The same goes for the teeth. Children’s primary teeth not only help them chew and speak, they also hold the space for permanent ones that are under the gums. This is why it’s very important to set proper oral care routine early in life to make sure your young one’s teeth and gums stay healthy and strong.

There are ways to prevent dental decay before it happens and they are super easy! Prevention of dental decay in kids is done mainly in 6 simple steps, 3 of them done at home and 3 are done at the dentist’s office.

3 STEPS AT HOME

  • 01

    Brush your child's teeth

    When we eat, a layer of sticky film called plaque is formed on the teeth and coats it. This plaque contains bacteria, which following a meal or snack, release acids that attack the hard surface on your teeth called enamel. Repeated attacks on your enamel eventually results in cavities.

    By brushing your child’s’ teeth regularly, you’re removing the plaque and the sneaky bacteria contained in it! If a toothbrush is not available, let your child rinse his mouth thoroughly with water to get rid of any sugar and other food debris in his mouth and then brush as soon as he can.

    The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, the amount should be increased to a size of a pea. Parents should perform or assist their child’s toothbrushing until they’re old enough to do it efficiently on their own. Make sure your child spits out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

  • 02

    Floss

    Yes, that's right! Kids just like adults should floss too, every day! It removes plaque from between the teeth where toothbrush can’t reach. You should help your child floss by either a floss holder or using regular floss.

  • 03

    Smart snacking

    You are the parent so you are the one who lays the ground rules. Let your child know that there are food that are good for the body and food that are useless and even harmful for the teeth.

Always offer nutritious food during snack and meal times. Look for healthy options that contain less refined sugars, colorings, acids (soda pop and energy drinks). Nutritious ones contain vitamins and minerals and fibers that naturally cleanse the teeth (mainly raw food like fruits and vegetables, especially the crunchy ones). Dairy products are also very important!

Research has shown that cheeses have characteristics that prevent tooth demineralization and cavity formation.

To protect your child’s pearly whites, avoid giving him unhealthy snacks like sticky caramels, hard candies and jellies. These are just bad news for the teeth!

How to find the right dentist for your child?

The best dental professional to look after your child’s oral health is a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist, also called a pedodontist, is a dental specialist who has received additional two to three years of specialized training and experience to treat and cater to the needs of infants, children, teens and including those with special health needs.

3 THINGS TO DO AT THE DENTIST'S OFFICE

  • 01

    Regular checkup and cleaning

    Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular checkups to detect any early carious teeth while they are simple and small. This way the treatment will also be psychologically simple and easy on your child and he can take the treatment happily without any pain. When neglected, the decay may need a deeper treatment which will require a shot during the treatment to numb the tooth. This could be painful and might invoke anxiety or fear in your child.

    So save your child all the pain and bring him in early to the dentist for a checkup. Your child’s dentist should do a regular cleaning of your child's teeth during the appointment to remove any calculus deposits that are harmful to his gums and teeth.

  • 02

    Fluoride application

    Decay occurs when the acid (produced by bacteria in the plaque) destructs the enamel that protects the tooth. During this acid attack, the minerals leach out of the tooth leaving tiny holes in the tooth surface. The more exposure to acid, the more minerals leach out and the tiny holes become bigger – this eventually leads to a cavity.

    In this case, your dentist will apply fluoride to your child’s teeth to replace the lost minerals on the teeth surfaces. Fluoride is a mineral that will diffuse onto the surface of teeth to block the tiny holes left by the leached out minerals. Fluoride forms a stronger bond with the tooth structure than those lost minerals. Fluoride also prevents bacteria from attaching itself on to the tooth structure, it decreases plaque formation on the tooth and thus reduces the occurrence of decay for the following 6 months after its application. Therefore, it is advisable to apply fluoride at the dentist's office twice a year for year-round dental protection.

  • 03

    Pit and fissure sealants

    Our teeth have tiny groves and valleys on which we grind food, these are called pits and fissures. These pits and fissures retain plaque, food and bacteria. Therefore, these are the area where decay occurs fastest!

    So what can we do about that? We seal them! Yes, seal those pits and fissures with a dental plastic like material that is safe to apply on human teeth. Sealants block out all the grooves and allows food and plaque to just slide off the teeth so bacterial acid doesn’t attack the tooth structure in that area!

    These sealants may last over a year if well-maintained and they need to be regularly checked by the dentist.

    Voila! Now you have your child's teeth all protected and prevented from any future decay! It's so simple yet very important, and the best part is you can take part of it at home as well as at the dentist's office.