Dental hygiene for children
The dental hygiene of children is extremely important. Children who have good oral health have great chances to have healthy teeth for the rest of their lives. From a young age, parents should educate their children about taking good care of the teeth. This habit that will pay-off in adulthood as they will keep permanent teeth. Acquiring such habit of taking care of their oral health, children can be saved from dental problems like dental caries and gum disease.
Children enjoy eating sweets, however, excessive consumption of sweets can be damaging to the teeth. It is better to teach children to eat sweets with the meal. As this would minimize the negative effects on the teeth. Consumption of sweets can demineralize the tooth enamel and eventually lead to dental caries. Parents should also take care to not give sweets to children as rewards. Similarly, fizzy drinks can be very harmful to the teeth because these drinks contain acids which damage the tooth enamel and make the tooth enamel thinner.
The best snacks for children are fruits and vegetables. Not only do these taste good, but they are good for dental health and general hygiene. Bananas, carrots, cucumber, and other fruits can become excellent substitutes for sweets. Breadsticks, rice cakes, plain popcorn and crackers is also an option.
Children who are about a year old should drink only water or milk. Fruit juices are not suitable for babies who are under six months of age. Fruit juices also contain sugar and acids. Hence these should not be consumed excessively by older children either. It is better to use a straw while drinking fruit juices because this helps the juice to bypass the teeth. Moreover, chocolate-flavored milk and milkshake powders usually contain sugar. Giving this to the children can be damaging to their teeth. At bedtime, the best drink to give to the child is water. If parents wish to give milk, it should be a plain milk with no additives.
If the child has to take medication for any reason, parents should ask the physician to prescribe sugar-free medicine, especially if the child has to take long-term medication.
Bottles, cups and dummies
When the baby reaches the age of six months, parents should try to move him or her from the bottle to a feeder cup. Upon reaching the age of one year, the baby should completely stop using the bottle because the spouts and teats allow the child to suck the bottle for a longer period of time; this would lead to dental caries. Similarly, sippy cups should not be used. Sippy cups, like a bottle, allow the child to suck for a longer period of time and might cause dental caries. A feeder cup allows unrestricted flow of milk and this does not affect the teeth.
Dummy or thumb sucking should also be prevented by parents. These encourage open bite and can also affect the speech development of the child. Dummy or thumb sucking habits can be very difficult to break and it is wise to not let the child have such a habit in the first place. Due to a dummy or thumb sucking habit, the teeth move to make space for the dummy or the thumb.