Oral Care for Children
By Eric Riley
Just because the baby teeth that children have will eventually be replaced by adult teeth does not mean that their dental care can be neglected. Dental care in children is just as important as dental care for adults. Since it is difficult for a young child to take of their teeth, the responsibility will fall on the parent or guardian to make sure that the child isn’t susceptible to any plaque or cavities. Therefore, it is important that the parent start taking care of their child’s oral needs from a very early age—from infancy.
Teeth in an infant are formed during the second trimester of pregnancy. When the infant is born, they already have a full set of twenty teeth below their gums. It is important that parents keep these gums clean until the teeth start growing in. Run a damp washcloth over the gums daily to clean away any bacteria. Once the teeth start growing in you should use an infant toothbrush with water and a smidge of toothpaste to brush them until they reach the age of two. At that age, the child should be able to spit on their own. Increase the amount of toothpaste to about the size of a pea and always supervise the child until they reach around age five.
Going back to infants, it should be kept in mind that they too are susceptible to tooth decay. In particular, they are susceptible to a condition called bottle mouth. This is where sugars from milk or juice remain on the teeth for hours and start eating away at the enamel. An infant is likely to develop this if they are put to sleep with a bottle. Signs of bottle mouth are front teeth that are discolored, pocked, or pitted and in severe cases cavities may result and the front teeth will have to be pulled until the permanent teeth grow in. Young infants should only suck the bottle at set times during the day rather than at random times.
It is highly recommended that you take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly. These dentists are specialized in the wide range of issues that come about from children’s oral health. Their main job is to treat any potential oral disease and to treat it if it arises. It is also up to a pediatric dentist to refer you to an orthodontist in the case where the child may have an issue with crooked teeth or an overbite. The bottom line is that it is up to the parent to make sure their child’s teeth is well taken care of.