Dental care is one aspect of children’s health that some parents tend to overlook. The assumption is that the child still has their baby teeth, and since they will fall out, there’s no need to make their oral health a priority at that stage. What many parents fail to understand is that effective dental care has a significant impact on permanent teeth and future oral health. Therefore, parents should make an effort to promote kids’ dental health.
Understanding Early Childhood Dental Care
Early childhood dental care entails the habits and traditions that parents introduce to infants and young kids to promote good oral health. It includes everything from brushing techniques to scheduling dental appointments. With tooth decay being one of the common kids’ diseases, making oral health a priority creates a strong dental care foundation.
Why Is Early Childhood Dental Care Important?
Parents who take responsibility for their children’s dental hygiene shield them from various dental problems, including gum disease, halitosis, teeth sensitivity, gum disease, and canker sores. These dental problems can cause chronic illnesses that may affect a child’s overall health. Therefore, it would be best for parents to adopt preventive measures and find a pediatric dentist near them for timely interventions.
Early dental care can impact a child’s cognitive development. For example, poor oral health has been linked to decreased intellectual performance, evidenced by poor grades, and associated with absenteeism caused by dental infections. Some studies have found that children with poor dental health are more likely to have problems in school and have trouble completing homework.
Experts have also found a link between early childhood dental care and psychosocial behavior among children and adolescents. For example, chronic toothaches can result in bad tempers and isolation among children. A child with dental malocclusion may suffer from fear of rejection. Injured or broken teeth can make some children feel like they are unattractive. For adolescents, such feelings of inadequacy may lead to depression, anxiety, and shyness.
Tips for Improving Kids’ Oral Hygiene
Parents can instill good oral hygiene habits by teaching kids while they are young. But what approaches should they use? Here are a few ways to achieve that.
1. Establish a Routine
Parents with infants and toddlers should wipe their young ones’ gums twice a day using a soft cloth after their morning feeding and just before bedtime. Once the first tooth appears, parents should use a soft-bristled brush and water to clean their babies’ teeth. Experts are against using fluoride on children under the age of two. Parents who are unsure should speak to a licensed pediatric dentist.
Parents with older kids aged 2 and above should use fluoride toothpaste to clean their children’s teeth at least twice a day. They should teach them how to brush correctly in circular motions and floss once daily to improve oral health. Parents thinking of using mouthwash on their kids should consult their pediatric dentist for expert advice.
2. Encourage Dental Visits
The American Dental Association recommends that parents take their children to the dentist during the first six months of getting their first tooth or any time before their first birthday. Doing so not only establishes a routine but also helps get rid of the fear some children develop towards dental visits. Moreover, early dental visits help in the detection of dental problems in their early stages.
3. Lead by Example
Children are observant and will easily adopt habits from those closest to them. Parents can encourage good dental care by having a daily dental care routine that includes brushing and flossing. Moreover, parents can also emphasize the benefits of drinking water and eating healthy by practicing these habits themselves.
Parents play a significant role in children’s oral health. Instilling good dental hygiene habits helps protect kids from chronic dental infections. While taking an active role in early dental care may seem daunting, these interventions will prove valuable to a child’s well-being in the future.