Caring for Your Child’s Teeth
Oct 01, 2012 02:35PM
● By Dr. Paul Rodeghero
Parents are faced with many choices while raising their children regarding their overall health. You may wonder when it is best to start your child on routine dental exams as well as what is the best strategy to ensure proper preventative actions.
Children today are faced with a wide array of food choices from fresh produce to sugar-laden processed meals and snacks. A story published in the March 6th issue of the New York Times stated that many preschoolers are now experiencing at least "6-10 cavities" with severe decay. The cost to parents to restore their child’s teeth can range from $500- $5000, or more. Obviously, early prevention is the key, but when to start?
As soon as your infant starts cutting teeth it is ideal to rub their teeth and gums with a soft cloth after eating. Once they are old enough, begin using a child’s toothbrush with a mild toothpaste at least twice a day (children find many adult toothpastes to be "too spicy"). Don’t leave it to your child; brush their teeth yourself. This will start early habits that will last a lifetime.
Sugary foods and drinks should be consumed with meals as saliva production increases during meals and will help neutralize acid production. Offer your child nutritious snacks, but if they have sweets, ensure that they clean their teeth after consumption.
Monitor your child’s intake of soft drinks, sports drinks and juices. Do not get in the habit of putting these in a bottle; this can cause "bottle mouth syndrome" where all the front teeth become severely decayed. Water is always the better choice.
If your child must have a baby tooth extracted due to decay, it is imperative that a space maintainer be placed. This is a wire bracket that is attached to the adjacent teeth and designed to hold the space for the permanent tooth to come in. If this is not done, the existing teeth will shift, and there will not be room for the adult teeth to come in properly. The only way to correct such a situation is orthodontics.
Begin introducing your child between the the ages of two to three years to a dentist. This should be a fun visit so that the child is not frightened. Many adults have horror stories from their youth which causes them to avoid much needed dental treatment in their adult years. Find a family dental practice or pediodontist who will establish a good relationship with your child from the start. Above all, never imply to your child that the dental cleaning will "hurt."
If your child complains of a toothache or you notice tooth discoloration, get him or her to a dentist as soon as possible. With these early preventative measures and frequent visits to a "kid friendly" dentist, your child should enter the adult years with a healthy smile.
Dr. Paul Rodeghero graduated from Ohio State Dental School in 1983, and has thousands of hours of continuing education. He is continually adding new and better dental procedures to offer his patients, employing the most natural and least invasive procedures. See ad page 22.