Remember when your baby first smiled at you with their cute baby teeth? The one that made your heart melt into a soft, warm puddle? It is important to protect your little darling’s precious smile. Your baby’s milk teeth hold space for the permanent teeth, maintain your child’s jaw structure, and they also help your child smile, chew and talk.
Once the milk teeth or primary teeth fall out, permanent teeth will replace them. If you don’t look after your child’s milk teeth, they may develop dental problems. If your child gets cavities in their milk teeth, they will be more likely to get cavities in their permanent teeth. It has been found that dental caries in children is 5 times more common than Asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever. Also, tooth erosion and decay can cause the primary teeth to fall out before they are supposed to. This can lead to misalignment or crowding of your child’s teeth.
Your child’s teeth may even appear crooked. This can, in turn, affect your child’s confidence and engagement in social situations. Around 60-90% of school going children in India have cavities. So, it is really important for you to take care of your child’s teeth not just for the present but for the future as well.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when it comes to your child’s oral hygiene:
1. It’s best to start early!
Milk teeth are thinner and softer than adult teeth. Hence, they can get damaged easily. This is why tooth erosion, decay, and caries are common in growing children. This can be prevented by keeping their teeth and gums clean.
2. Steer clear of plaque
The bacteria present in your mouth combines with proteins and food remnants to form a sticky substance called plaque. This gets deposited at the base of the teeth near the gums. Plaque buildup can cause gum diseases. This plaque can be removed with by thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth.
3. Too many sweets? Not a good idea
Sugary sweets and drinks promote the growth of bad bacteria in the mouth. This builds up the plaque and hence, in addition to this, lowers the pH level of your child’s mouth. When the pH goes below 5.5, it can destroy the tooth enamel. The best way to keep a tab on how many sweets they eat is to avoid buying too many in the first place. Also, when you are hosting a party or get-together at home, gently remind your guests to avoid getting sweets for your child - toys or storybooks would do.
4. The right brushing technique
You need to supervise your child while they brush their teeth. If they spend less than a minute to brush their teeth, they may not be doing enough. If they brush too hard, they may hurt themselves. Teach them to spend time to brush each individual tooth gently. They need to brush:
- up and down for their front teeth,
- side-to-side for the molars and premolars and
- in gentle circular motions over and around each tooth.
5. Let your child choose their germ fighters!
Milk teeth are different from adult teeth. They are a lot thinner and softer. Hence, it necessary to use a toothpaste that’s specially formulated for kids. It is best to choose a kids toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride is known to help prevent tooth decay and cavities.
Colgate Kids toothpaste comes in 2 sweet fruity flavours - strawberry and bubble fruit. They also have cartoon characters printed on them - Barbie, Spiderman, Motu Patlu and Minions You can ask your child to choose between them. The colourful packaging and your child’s favourite character will encourage them to take better care of their teeth. Also, the Motu Patlu variant comes with free trading cards which they can collect with every new pack. This will encourage them to never miss out on brushing their teeth.
Along with following these habits, you should take your child to the dentist every 6 months. Make appointments for regular checkups and clean ups. This will ensure that your child’s precious smile stays protected.