Adults know the importance of good dental health when it comes to ensuring optimum wellness. Unfortunately, most children don’t know that. Young children are dependent on their parents to support them in the maintenance of good oral hygiene and the performance of good dental care practices. But what if some parents are remiss of their duties to their kids? Children’s dental health needs more attention now more than ever. And this should begin in the home.
Recent statistics reveal that approximately 1 in 5 children between the ages of 5 and 11 years have tooth decay that is left untreated. This is higher than those belonging to the age group between 12 and 17 years at 13%. The good news is that when taken as a whole, the incidence of untreated dental caries in children between the ages of 5 and 17 is lower than those in the adult years between 20 and 44 at 31.6%. The incidence of untreated dental caries in 5-17 year old children is only 18.6%.
While the figures are promising, there are still a lot of things that need to be done.
Parents should stay focused in teaching their children the correct way to brush the teeth (you can check out this article for the proper way of brushing the teeth). Not only is the choice of a good quality toothbrush and a kid-appropriate toothpaste important, knowing and demonstrating the correct way of brushing the different teeth matters a lot as well. The correct length of the brushing session should also be adhered to and instilled into the minds of young children as part of their routine.
Parents can demonstrate to their children how to properly brush their teeth. With the help of modern technology, teaching children today is a lot easier and more engaging, too. One only has to find a more creative way of teaching the correct things.
Children also need to understand the need for oral care whenever they consume sweets. Kids love candies, chocolates, cakes, and other sweet and starchy foods that can indirectly lead to tooth decay. Starchy foods stick to the surface of teeth allowing germs to build up if not washed or rinsed immediately. When sweet foods are added into the equation, this provides fuel for the germs on the teeth to multiply. It is this combination of food and protection for the germs on kids’ teeth that predisposes them to tooth decay.
Parents should be vigilant in telling their children to rinse their mouths right after eating sweet and starchy foods. If at all possible, they should be taught to brush their teeth after consumption of such food items. But given the impracticality of such an endeavor, gargling after eating sweets and starchy foods should be taught to kids. A much better approach would be to prepare healthier snacks for children so they will not have to rely on sweets and starchy foods.
In light of this, the family’s dietary practices and feeding habits may also have to be looked into. There is a tendency for modern families to buy ready-cooked food rather than preparing it themselves. From fastfood to canned and microwaveable food items, more and more families are staying away from their kitchens and more on restaurants and fastfood joints. This exposes children to a lot of ingredients that can undermine the integrity of their growing and still-developing teeth. Many of these food items are way too sweet and starchy while others are too acidic. All of these can predispose children to more serious dental problems.
Dental visits should also be initiated at the soonest. The problem with some parents is that they wait for their kids to have teeth before they begin visiting their dentists. This mindset needs to change if parents want to see their kids to grow with healthier and stronger teeth. A pediatric dentist should be able to provide babies and children with the proper care for their still-developing teeth.
There is hope that the incidence of tooth decay among children can still be reduced even further. But every parent needs to do his or her part in the care of their children’s dentition. Good oral health should, after all, start with the family.