Make the dentist your child’s best friend to catch problems early

Don’t wait for a problem to occur before visiting the dentist! Prevention in terms of good oral hygiene and regular dental check-up is a must for your child.

By Dr Vimal Arora

Every parent always ensures that their kids receive all the vaccinations on time. They’re taken to the best doctor at the first indication of any disease, but when it comes to oral and dental health, visit to a specialist doctor is often forgotten or neglected. Children are only taken to visit the dentist when a toothache becomes unbearable. It’s assumed that brushing twice a day makes the child immune to all dental diseases. However, good oral care is far more than brushing of teeth twice a day, and the sooner parents realise this, the better it is for children. It’s important for parents to know basic facts and equip themselves with adequate knowledge to take the right decisions.

Early Childhood Caries is a common condition in childhood, plaguing 70-80 per cent kids and involves the presence of one or more decayed, missing or filled teeth. When a child loses a milk tooth before the permanent tooth comes, it’s often due to decay, one so severe that the tooth cannot be saved even with dental treatment. It’s believed that a child’s first visit to the dentist must start at the age of 12 months as milk teeth are critical for chewing and speaking. These milk teeth play a vital role in holding space in the jaws for permanent teeth. When a milk tooth is lost prematurely, the teeth next to the empty space shift into the space creating problems that result in the need of braces and also causing food lodgement due to opening of spaces.

It’s necessary that parents only use positive connotations attached to dental visits. Terms like “drilling, painful, needles” should be avoided as it creates a stressful experience, which leads to fear of visiting a dentist. In fact, paedodontists are trained and use advanced technology and latest pain-management techniques to eliminate fear during treatment.

Prevention in terms of good oral hygiene and regular dental check-up is a must, and visiting a dentist only under emergency may only be akin to a band-aid solution. It may not provide any long-term solution to poor dental health. Most common unhealthy oral habits include thumb and finger sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, and teeth grinding which are widely seen in children of 3-6 years of age. If these habits are not eliminated, it brings rise to a concerning situation which affects the child’s permanent or adult teeth.

Tips to avoid dental diseases

Clean your child’s teeth yourself until they are ready to do this independently, usually by the age of eight years.

Children should be made to brush for two minutes, preferably after every meal. Brushing after dinner is an absolute must, often more important than morning brushing.

Visits to the dentist should occur every six months. The dentist will address childhood habits that can be harmful, such as thumb sucking, which can eventually cause “jutting out” teeth or mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, nail-biting or pencil-chewing. It is imperative that these unhealthy habits are curbed and replaced by positive habits.

Administration of fluoride treatment is an added measure of protection or application of a sealant to teeth that are more vulnerable to decay.

Don’t put your child to bed with a milk-bottle or pacifier.

(The writer is Chief Clinical Officer, Clove Dental.)

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