The foundation for healthy permanent teeth in children and teenagers is laid during the first years of life. Poor diet, poor habits of food intake and inadequate brushing habits during the first 2 years of life have been shown to be related to tooth decay in children. It is essential to establish a proper oral hygiene routine early in life to help ensure the development of strong and healthy teeth.
Some of the steps that can be taken to ensure a good oral hygiene for the child are-
1. Healthy Nutritious food- A child should be encouraged to eat nutritious food from a young age as this influences his dietary habits in later years of life. Food should be balanced to include protein rich food, starchy food, fruits, vegetables and milk and milk products.
The intake of soft drinks, sweets, confectioneries, biscuits, sugary pastries that have added sugar and poor quality fats like trans-fat and salt, should be limited.
2. Good Oral Hygiene Habits- Brushing is crucial from the get-go. Before the baby has teeth, parents can gently wipe its gums with a soft washcloth.
When your baby’s teeth appear, brush with an infant toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. Brush just before bedtime. After that, don’t give your child any food or drink, except water, until the next morning.
3. Dental visits- “Prevention is better than cure” is an old cliché but this mantra plays an important role in the child’s oral health. Regular dental checkups from an early age help to nip any arising problems in the bud and helps save a lot of discomfort for the child and expenditure for the parent.
4. Proper Bottle Etiquettes– Don’t put your child down for a nap with a bottle of juice, formula, or milk. Sugary liquids cling to their teeth, feeding bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
If you must give your child a bottle to take to bed, make sure it contains only water. Many parents think juice is a healthy daylong choice for a drink, but it can lead to tooth decay. Limit your child to no more than 4 ounces a day of 100% fruit juice.
A sippy cup can help kids move from a bottle to a glass, but don’t let them drink from it all day long. Using it too much can lead to decay on the back of the front teeth if the drinks are sugary.
5. Ditch the Pacifier- There are lots of good reasons to let your child use a pacifier, but in the long term it can affect how his teeth line up. It can also change the shape of the mouth. Talk to your dentist if the child still uses a pacifier after 3 years.