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Dental Health Tips For Your Kids

Tooth decay and what is commonly referred to as “Toothache” is a very common occurrence with our children nowadays. The ever changing diets that we expose our children to, as we well as the lack of focus to ensure proper oral care is undertaken, has resulted in the dental practice seeing younger and younger patients sit on the dental chair.Oral healthcare starts from the very beginning. There’s no need to wait until your little baby’s teeth start showing for you to start a good oral health routine. It is up to us as parents to lay a good foundation to ensure our children’s teeth are healthy.

Healthy Teeth = Happy Children = Happy Family.

Baby teeth sequence

To help your children protect their teeth and gums and greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, let me share a few simple tips:
0–2 years
• Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days. Use a clean damp washcloth specifically for this activity.
• As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months and some may appear slightly earlier.
• Wipe gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth after feeding. This will help get rid of the sticky coating referred to as plaque.
• Brush teeth twice a day with water and a soft-bristle toothbrush as soon as baby’s teeth appear in the mouth.
• Schedule their first dental appointment before their first birthday to consult with the dental expert to identify any specific needs or for reassurance that all is well

3-5 Years
Most children have a full set of 20 baby teeth by the time they are 3-years-old. As your child grows, their jaws also grow, making room for their permanent teeth.
Start using fluoride toothpaste at age 3
• Use only a pea-sized amount. Make sure your child spits it out after brushing.
• Try to break thumb-sucking and pacifier habits by 4 years. Continued practice may lead to oral distortion and misalignment.
• It would be important to start visiting your dental team every 6 months for checkup.

6–9 years
• Begin flossing as soon as the child’s teeth touch.
• Let your child know that it’s normal for baby teeth to fall out. That’s how “grown-up” teeth come in.
• Until children are able to practice proper oral health habits alone, parents should help their child brush and floss twice a day.
• Always pay special attention to the back teeth, which may be predisposed to having more plaque.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        10–12 years                                                                                                                                                                                    • Proper dental hygiene needs to be maintained. Ensure your child who is now independent has set up a routine for brushing      and flossing and will remember to do so without being followed up.
• The foundations for good oral health start when young. Train your children when they are young and they will form good habits for life.
• Children are very actively involved in sports at this age. It would be very useful to have children who play sports to wear a mouth guard to protect their smile.

13+ years
• Parents can make the most of their teen’s interest in how they look by reminding them that a healthy smile and fresh breath will help them look and feel their best.                                                                                                                                    Dental tips                                                           
• Encourage teens who wear braces to brush and floss thoroughly as this requires extra care.
• How teeth look when braces come off depends on how they’re treated while the braces are on. Encourage your children to take care of their teeth.
• Suggest to your teens that they carry a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in their school bag, purse or sports bag for use during the day.

Now let’s talking about teething, that troubles many parents and children. Your baby is teething when his or her first set of teeth, called primary teeth , break through the gums.
Teething usually begins around 6 months of age. But it is normal for teething to start at any time between 3 months and 12 months of age. By the time your child is about 3 years old, he or she will have all 20 primary teeth.
The lower front teeth usually come in first. Upper front teeth usually come in 1 to 2 months after the lower front teeth.

What are the symptoms of teething?
Some babies are fussier, sleepless and more irritated than usual when they are teething. This may be because of soreness and swelling in the gums before a tooth comes through. These symptoms usually begin about 3 to 5 days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth breaks the skin. Not all babies are affected by teething.
Babies may bite on their fingers or toys to help relieve the pressure in their gums. They may also refuse to eat and drink because their mouths hurt. Many babies drool during teething, which can cause a rash on the chin, face, or chest.
These are teething symptoms that get better and are usually are nothing to worry about. However if your baby’s symptoms are severe or if they develop fever and diarrhoea, please visit your doctor.
How can you help your baby be more comfortable while teething?
• Use a clean finger (or cold teething ring) to gently rub your baby’s gum for about 2 minutes at a time. Many babies find this soothing, although they may protest at first.
• Provide safe objects for your baby to chew on, such as teething rings and teething toys.
• Beware of teething solutions that are peddled including creams, ointments and drinks that may not be safe. Always consult your dental team first.                                                                                                                                                            Baby’s First Dental Visit
The first dental visit should take place within six months after the first tooth appears, . Don’t wait for them to start school or until there’s an emergency. Get your child comfortable today with good oral healthy habits.
Although the first visit is mainly for the dentist to examine your child’s mouth and to check their growth and development, it’s also about your child being comfortable.
To make the visit positive and comfortable:
• Consider making a morning appointment when children tend to be rested and cooperative.
• Keep any anxiety or concerns you have to yourself. Children can pick up on your emotions, so emphasize the positive.
• Never use a dental visit as a punishment or threat.
• Never bribe your child.
• Talk with your child about visiting the dentist in advance so that they know what to expect
During this visit, you can expect the dentist to:
• Inspect for oral injuries, cavities or other problems.
• Let you know if your child is at risk of developing tooth decay.
• Clean your child’s teeth and provide tips for daily care.
• Discuss teething, pacifier use, or finger/thumb sucking habits.
• Discuss treatment, if needed, and schedule the next check-up
I wish you happy teeth for yourselves and your families.

By Dr. Duncan Odupoy
Dr. Duncan Odupoy is a dental consultant with a wealth of experience in general and cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics and implant surgery. He is the founder and lead consultant at Elite Dental Clinic 3 Floor Lavington Mall, Nairobi drodupoy@elitedentalclinic.co.ke ; http://www.elitedentalclinic.co.ke


  1. jasmine miller on April 4, 2018 at 9:42 am

    This article is amazingly helpful and intersting,Thanks for sharing such an informational article with us.
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  2. Dr. Gowds on August 20, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Very Useful Information especially dental health tips for Kids.
    Plan your child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist within six months after the eruption of the first tooth, but not later than the first birthday. Consider it as a “well-baby-checkup” for your child’s first teeth. By age seven, every child must receive and orthodontic evaluation.

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