Paying attention to our teeth begins in childhood. What we eat, how we play, how often we visit the dentist, each step along the way towards adulthood becomes integral in our overall dental health. Children are particularly vulnerable to tooth problems early on, as their teeth and jawbone are forming and setting the stage for proper chewing and the forces of biting. A child’s dental health remains top priority in a lifetime of wellness.
Common Problems of Children’s Oral Health
Tooth decay and cavities remain the top chronic conditions of childhood. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to pain and infections that subsequently lead to problems with speaking, eating, playing, learning, and self-esteem. A study conducted of children in the United States showed:
- About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
- 1 of 7 (13%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
- The percentage of children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years with untreated tooth decay is twice as high for those from low-income families (25%) compared with children from higher-income households (11%).
The upside is tooth decay is preventable, and caring for a child’s teeth needs to begin at home. Both parents and caregivers can protect their child’s teeth by practicing good oral health, following these practices:
- Fluoride toothpaste – The key is to watch your children brush their teeth. Give them guidance on how to gently brush their teeth in circular motion with a soft toothbrush versus aggressive side strokes. Using fluoride toothpaste requires some monitoring depending on the age of the child. If your child is younger than two years of age, check in with your dentist or primary physician for the green flag on whether to brush with fluoride toothpaste. For a child younger than age six, keep an eye on how they brush their teeth, and only use a pearl size amount of toothpaste. Make sure they spit it out rather than swallow it as well.
- Fluoridated water – Talking with your pediatrician or family dentist about a child drinking fluoridated water, and whether or not it’s a good idea, is advised. If you don’t have access to fluoridated water, the child may need oral fluoride supplements in the form of lozenges of drops, that will be a proper replacement for fluoridation. Check in with your dentist first.
- Dental sealants – Sealants protect the teeth from decay. The same can be applied with fluoride varnish, which protects the child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. A dental sealant and/or varnish might be the proper protocol once the child has their first dental checkup by age one.
Fun Facts for Kids and Their Dental Health
- Quality dental health is not expensive. Unless there is severe decaying, most dental visits can be a pleasant experience from start to finish, including the monetary output.
- A startling fact about eight year olds is that most have the onset of decaying teeth at this young age, yet preventative measures such as correct brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste will ensure proper dental health.
- The earlier a child visits a dentist the better. This will alleviate dental anxiety and teach them they have nothing to fear by visiting a dentist and becoming familiar with the dental team. Once a child understands how the dental checkups work, they will build a solid relationship with their dentist.
- Baby teeth should appear by the age of two. A visit to the dentist is required as soon as teeth are visible. Your children will thank you when they see how healthy and wonderful their teeth become in their teen years. Developing good habits at a young age is mandatory for overall quality oral health.
- Self-esteem develops at an early age. If a child suffers from bad teeth and cannot smile with confidence, chances are they will feel embarrassed and unable to perform in school or daily life. Guiding them towards healthy dental habits will restore their self-esteem and enable them to play, go to school, have worthy friendships, and conduct themselves with a smile.
A child’s smile can be infectious. Improvements to their oral health where necessary are vital for their development as adults. Dr. Albers and his team are ready to welcome your child into their family of dentistry. They have the experience and the thoughtful care to make certain children are on their journey to excellent dental health and wellness. Contact their office for a complete evaluation and see why Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Santa Rosa, CA is the only solution for your child’s teeth and successful smile.