Dental Care for Kids

Oral Care for Kids

“Dentist” is a dreadful word for some. Not a single day goes by without hearing the words “I hate dentists” uttered by at least one patient during the day. If parents fear dentists, it automatically reflects on the child. Most people go to the dentist only when there is a problem or if they have dental insurance. When it comes to children growing up outside of India, these are a couple of points to keep in mind about why regular 6 month dental recalls and cleanings are important.

  • Most of the tasty, “nutritious” kid friendly foods are refined and high in sugar content or corn syrup. Any food (even crackers) stuck between teeth can break down into sugars, producing acids that result in cavities. Cereals, donuts, bagels, muffins, chips and yogurts all have corn syrup that damage the teeth.
  • Milk and fruit juices (natural or store bought) contain natural sugars that are still sugars and need to be washed down with water or a thorough brushing. The juices have acid in addition to the sugars, which is a deadly combination resulting in cavities.
  • There is never an emphasis in schools to drink water after lunch. Milk, chocolate milk or fruit juice is served with lunch. Water is only available at the bubblers. You can imagine how many children actually get a sip of water after lunch. The food stuck between the teeth plus the acid from the juice or milk is an open invitation to form cavities.
  • Sugar substitutes and water flavoring products like Mio are equally bad, although, the risk of decay is relatively low with sugar substitutes.
  • Sippy cups with milk or juice increase the duration of contact of sugars on the teeth causing rampant decay.
  • Only community water supply has added fluoride which is an effective cavity preventing agent. Kids drinking bottled water only are at a risk of missing out on the fluoride and at an increased risk of cavities.

In India, we did not grow up consuming processed food as often. The snacks we had were frequently home-made and needed aggressive chewing which is a good cleansing action in itself. There was always emphasis on drinking water after anything we ate. The refined foods that are available now need no aggressive chewing and easily stick to the teeth.

The key point to remember is to avoid prolonged contact of sugars or sticky foods with the teeth. Rinsing thoroughly with water or brushing after every meal is the best way to prevent cavities. With kids it is hard to keep an eye on their snacking habit, the amount of water they drink or brushing and rinsing after every meal and snack. That’s where regular six month dental recalls play an important role in detecting cavities at the earliest.

The  American Dental Association (ADA) recommends:

  • Newborn- Massage gums with finger or washcloth.
  • 6-12months- Brush with infant toothbrush and water.
  • 1year- First dental visit 6 months after first tooth eruption or by first birthday
  • 3-6 years- Brush with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • 6 years and above- Brush with pea sized amount of toothpaste.

Consider fluoride supplements if you do not have fluoride in your water supply. Check with a pediatrician or pedodontist and as parents help kids with brushing or monitor until the kids are able to do a good job by themselves.

 


 

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Deepthi Mundra is a travel and adventure junkie. She has travelled and worked on four continents. A dentist by profession and a Cross Fit enthusiast, she’s constantly planning her next travel adventure. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband and a seven year-old daughter, with another one on the way.

One Response to Dental Care for Kids

  1. Chet says:

    Hi! I’ve been following your website for a while now and finally
    got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx!
    Just wanted to say keep up the excellent job!

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