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How To Care for Children's Teeth - All You Keed to Know.

Updated on May 19, 2016

We often take our teeth for granted but poor dental health and tooth problems can lead to issues with eating, speech development and learning for our children. A 2001 report shows that more than 51 million school hours are lost every year in America due to dental-related illness.

So it's as important for children to take care of their teeth as it is for adults. This hub looks at the recommendations for teaching tooth and gum care to prevent dental disease and how to spot it if it's present.

Don't make the mistake of thinking of tooth decay and gum disease as adult problems. As long as a person or any ages has gums and teeth there is an opportunity for disease.

Chronic gingivitis
Chronic gingivitis | Source
Untreated periodontitis
Untreated periodontitis

Types of tooth disease.

Dentists call tooth disease 'periodontal disease' which means 'around the tooth'.

1. Chronic gingivitis.

Gingivitis is the first stage in periodontal disease. It makes the gums red and swollen and they bleed easily. The redness and swelling may be subtle but when the child spits into the basin after brushing, you'll see the bleeding and this is tell-tale sign that gums aren't healthy.

This is preventable and treatable. Regular brushing, flossing and dental checks are essential habits.

2. Aggressive periodontitis. Usually found in teens and young adults, this is a more progressive disease which involves the loss of the bone around the teeth which in turn makes them loose.

3. Generalised aggressive periodontitis may begin around puberty if the teeth aren't well cared for. It involves the whole mouth and there is a build up of plaque in which bacteria can thrive and this then eats away at the teeth and gums, causing the teeth to become loose.

What are the signs of dental disease in children?

  • Bleeding gums when brushing, flossing or at any other time.
  • Gum puffiness, especially if they are bright red or swollen.
  • Gum recession. Look at the gums in the mouth - they should be even along the lower edges of the teeth but if they seem lower on some than others, they may have receded and this can expose the roots in extreme cases.The child may complain of pain when eating hot/cold food or drinks.
  • Constant bad breath is also a sign on tooth and gum ill health. If breath smells bad even after brushing, this can mean that the gums are rotting because of bacteria and plaque.

Signs of tooth and gum disease
Signs of tooth and gum disease | Source

How to prevent children's periodontal disease.

  1. Teach children good oral health habits from as soon as they can understand. Get them into the routine of (age appropriate - see below) brushing and flossing their teeth just as they would brush their hair - so it's an unquestioned habit.
  2. When a child is about 12 months old, start using a pea-sized portion of toothpaste pressed into the bristles of a soft toothbrush, and gently brushing the teeth and gums. When the gaps between the teeth begin to close, teach them to floss.
  3. Focus on the benefits of good tooth care. When they're old enough to understand, talk about the lovely clean minty taste after brushing, the smooth-tooth feeling when they run their tongues over the teeth and the importance of fresh breath.
  4. You're important as a role model so remember to clean and floss your teeth twice daily.
  5. Similarly, regular dental checkups for all the family are essential.
  6. Check in the child's mouth for signs of disease - see above.
  7. Limit the child's intake of candy, chocolate, sugary foods, fruit juices and sodas. Encourage them to use a straw for sodas and juices - the straw shoots more of the fluid to the back of the throat and it's less likely to linger in the mouth, coating the teeth.
  8. Never put juice, soda or sugary drinks in a baby's bottle for them to suck on in the day or at night. Only use water.
  9. Encourage tooth-kind snack such as fruit, vegetables, savouries and cheese.
  10. Fluoridated water and fluoride toothpastes help to make teeth stronger. It's been a controversial topic in the past but it's been added to drinking water in some parts of the US for decades without any adverse affects on health.

Your child may be more at risk of tooth decay if s/he:

  • was born early or had low birth weight,
  • doesn’t visit the dentist regularly or has white or brown patches on the teeth.
  • has other health problems such as Type I diabetes, Down’s Syndrome, Kindler Syndrome or Papillon-Lefevre Syndrome,
  • there is a family history of tooth decay/problems. Dentists think that some people may be more susceptible to severe periodontal disease than others.

Bright smiles and confidence some from strong teeth and fresh breath. These all contribute to our feelings about our appearance and well being and our smiles are our best assets. Good habits learned early in childhood will help our children to grow into healthy, happy adults.


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