Importance of Children’s Oral Health
Children’s dental health is an essential part of their overall health. Parents or caregivers should teach their kids the importance of maintaining an oral health routine at an early age. The foundation for healthy permanent teeth throughout one’s life is laid during the formative years. Children who are taught to brush their teeth or had them brushed since they were babies are more likely to understand the need of this as they grow and develop permanent teeth.
Unfortunately, many parents believe that because their child’s baby teeth are eventually going to fall out, proper oral hygiene and dental care is less important. Although baby teeth won’t stay for long, they still need to stay healthy as they serve as a guide for the normal eruption of permanent teeth. This means that damage to them can cause substantial problems in the future.
Healthy baby teeth also aid in proper chewing, swallowing, and development of speech patterns that last into adulthood. Failure to maintain oral health practices early enough could expose your child to the risks of learning to chew in a way that is bad for their jaw or developing a speech impediment.
Research suggests that tooth decay is the single most common chronic disease among many U.S. children. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to gum disease, infection, and tooth loss. Losing a baby tooth too soon can lead to crowding issues due to misalignment of the surrounding teeth. This may necessitate the need for orthodontics/braces at a young age. All of these issues can be prevented with good oral hygiene practices.
Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth
With February being the National Children’s Dental Health Month, we are reminded of how crucial oral health is for children. Educating children about oral health gives them the information they need to make healthy choices. Teaching them the best way to brush and floss their teeth can go a long way in preventing many dental health issues. Parents have an essential role in implementing and setting an excellent example of proper oral care. Taking care of your own teeth sends a message that oral health is something to be taken seriously.
Begin cleaning a baby’s teeth according to the recommendation of the baby’s doctor as soon as the teeth erupt from the gums. As they get older, brush their teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and floss once to remove trapped food and plaque. Brush your teeth along with them (with your supervision of course) and find ways to make brushing teeth fun so they always look forward to doing it.
Diet is also important, and kids should learn to make healthy food choices early in life. Feed your child a healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables, rich in calcium and low in added sugars to facilitate the growth of strong gums and teeth.
Lastly, one of the most important ways of maintaining a healthy smile for your children is scheduling regular checkups with their dentist. They will evaluate your child’s oral, dental, and nutritional health, as well as diagnose any problems that could exist.