Oral health of your kids
Oral health of your kids
Dr. Kumudu Suriya
We take our daily food intake through our mouths. For this reason alone, it is imperative to have good oral heath.
If you are an adult, you can take care of your oral health. The same cannot be expected from our kids. It is the responsibility of parents to maintain good oral heath of their children.
Some parents take a very relaxed approach to taking care of oral health of their babies. However, with simple habits, you can easily improve on oral health of your baby.
• After each feeding, use a clean cloth to wipe gums and tooth-buds of a newborn.
• When teeth appear, brush your baby’s teeth twice a day with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Brushing before putting to bed is especially important.
• Do not share toothbrushes or any other utensils such as forks, spoons sippy-cups among family members.
• Lift up your baby’s lip regularly to check for decay, white or brown spots on teeth.
• Never use corn syrup, honey or other sugar products on your baby’s soother.
• If your baby sleeps with a bottle, fill it up only with water. Also plan to stop the bottle between 18 to 24 months.
• Train your baby to drink from a cup when the baby is able to sit up.
There is a range of opinions on what to expect from a toddler. But, all agree that toddlers cannot be treated as fully independent children. Toddlers are unable to clean their own teeth properly. Brush for them. As they grow older, you can brush with them. When they are about eight years old, they can brush on their own with your supervision. Even with older children, you still have to supervise them as the issue is not dexterity, but rather they cut corners with brushing properly or skipping brushing altogether.
As British Columbia Dental Association (BCDA) points out, use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste and gradually increase it to a small pea-sized amount by age three. This is especially important given the fact that much of the BC water supply is non-Fluoridated.
Brushing needs to be supplemented with flossing. Focus more on where teeth are touching. They are the areas that toothbrushes cannot reach.
Brushing teeth only is insufficient. Brush your gums, tongue and other areas of your mouth.
As indicated in my previous articles, what you eat when and how will have an impact on your oral health. If you have unhealthy habits, it is most likely that your children will learn them from you. Integrate good in-house oral care into your daily routine.
If you are taking your children to a dentist twice a year for checkups, it is easier to keep up with good oral health. However, taking children to a dentist can put financial pressure on some parents. This is especially true for some parents who are new immigrants, parents who have recently lost their jobs and families with relatively insufficient income or disabilities. There are private and some government-assisted insurance plans such as Healthy Kids plan that can relieve you from this pressure.
Make oral health of children an integral part of your family health.
Dr. Kumudu Suriya, BDS (Peradeniya), DMD (UBC), is a dentist who practices in Surrey & New Westminster. She is a Clinical Instructor at the University of British Columbia and was a lecturer at the University of Peradeniya. www.dentistry-at-suriya.com/Contact-Us.html