Kids’ Special Dental Needs

Kids’ Special Dental Needs

Just like adults, children need dental care. But when exactly does that care start?

Experts say that infancy is the right time to begin caring for teeth and oral health because infection in children is more common than both asthma and hay fever.

Baby teeth begin to grow at around six months old and those baby teeth start falling out around age 6. During that time, and beyond, children’s mouths, gums and teeth go through various stages and exams and assessments are important parts of proper development.

When new teeth arrive, brushing should begin with a small headed, soft bristled toothbrush. This is also a good time for baby’s first visit to the dentist’s office. Flouride supplementation can begin as early as six months old with prescription fluoride drops and later, around three years old, the child can begin chewable vitamins with fluoride. This is important because adult teeth are already forming before they erupt into the mouth and they will be more resistant to decay over their lifetime if this important preventative step is taken.

Proper diet is an equally important part of kids’ oral health and promotes good chewing habits. Making healthy food choices and having tooth-friendly options available at meal and snack time will help avoid tooth decay and promote dental health.

Fruits and vegetables like melons and cucumbers, which contain a lot of water, are the best. Include sources of calcium such as broccoli and yogurt to help strengthen teeth and bones. Avoid sugary foods; make a good habit of choosing unsweetened whenever possible.

Making good habits is equally important during jaw development. Extensive or long term thumb sucking or pacifier use may lead to the need for orthodontic appliances or corrective dentistry. While most children stop thumb sucking and pacifier use on their own, a dental consultation can help identify issues which once corrected, help ensure dental health in adulthood.

Protecting permanent teeth once they have grown in will also help ensure long term oral health. Sealants have the ability to keep food particles out of chewing surfaces and spaces in teeth, helping to prevent tooth decay. Treatments to apply sealants are typically quick and comfortable, and the end result can last for many years with proper care.

Children’s cosmetic dentistry is also sometimes necessary, when a permanent tooth is knocked out and cannot be re-inserted. Dentists who work with children understand the care needed to limit radiation exposure when taking x-rays. High speed film may also be used to make the patient more comfortable.

It’s never too soon to start caring for teeth. A dentist can recommend a specific care program, starting with the first tooth. Instruction on brushing, flossing and home treatment can help parents supervise and teach their children proper oral hygiene. Combined with a balanced diet and regular dental checkups, good habits lead the way to a lifetime of dental health.

Dr Brown and her staff can help identify and establish the right dental care routine for your child, at any age.

Thank you for visiting and reading!

Jacqueline S. Brown, DDS, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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