Innocent enjoyment of ice cream or children’s negligent attitude to tooth brushing during the holidays can lead to health troubles in the future. According to Diana Jurevičienė, a children’s dental practitioner, if this daily ritual is missed just a few times, one would no longer be able to clean his or her teeth properly and may need to seek assistance from a specialist. She told how to properly take care of children’s teeth in summer and to make preparations preventing you from worrying about more frequent visits to the dentist during the upcoming school year.
Oral hygiene is overlooked in summer
Diana Jurevičienė, who works as a children’s dental practitioner at Clinic DPC, children’s oral hygiene is really cared less about during the warm season. “Summer is the time of holidays not only at school, but also is oral hygiene”, jokes the doctor and draws attention to the fact that troubles are caused by more frequent consumption of sweet snacks, fruit, and sugary drinks. The latter lead to the excess acidity of oral cavity saliva that causes tooth decay.
Another problem is the negligent attitude of the oral hygiene regime, which often disappears when children visit with grandparents. “Let us remember our own childhood summers and our memory will put out all wrong habits, which lead to poor oral hygiene”, says the doctor. “If you fail to brush your teeth once, next time they will have to be cleaned twice as long. If you fail to do it a few times, you will no longer be able to clean them properly at all and assistance from a dental practitioner or hygienist will be required”.
According to Jurevičienė, in her practice she has noticed cases when 5 or 6-year-old children already have symptoms of gingivitis – inflammation of the gums – due to poor dental care: gums around the teeth become bright red, with a soft plaque film, and sometimes sensitive. “In this case, children are fully reluctant to brush their teeth because this procedure becomes painful”, the specialist speaks about the signs of the disease.
Usually, the inflammation of the gums afflicts teenagers: smiling exposes their reddening, sometimes also increased gums, while the teeth colour is yellowish because of the long-standing plaque. “A teenager may complain that the gums bleed and hurt when cleaning the teeth. The teeth become sensitive to sweet and cold food. In very rare cases, the gums start to fester and open wounds of mucosa are seen. When you seen all these symptoms, do not hesitate and come to the dentist or oral hygienist“, warns the children’s dental practitioner.
In order to protect children’s teeth during summer, it is also necessary to take additional care of children as they become more active. “Whey riding a bike, roller skates, or a scooter, it is very important wear protection equipment”, emphasises Jurevičienė.
Mouth guards that protect teeth can be purchased in sporting goods shops. Individual mouth guards adapted specifically to your child can be tailor-made in the clinic.
How to recognise “bottle tooth decay”?
Dental practitioner Jurevičienė has observed that due to poor dental care, children who are just 1.5 years old may already suffer from “bottle tooth decay”, also known as “multiple caries”. If this occurs, the front milk teeth become brownish and break off.
“In case of more severe damage, all milk molars may also be affected by caries. Now, this disease is observed in children as little as 1.5 years old and even earlier. Parents notice that teeth that erupted recently start to crumble. The child becomes reluctant to eat harder food and complains that the teeth hurt. As the disease progresses, spontaneous dental pain appears, especially at night. The dental doctor should be sought as soon as the first symptoms of dental caries in the area of anterior teeth appear. If “bottle tooth decay” is diagnosed timely, development of this disease can be prevented”, the children’s dental practitioner comforts parents.
Main rule of dental care
If you want your child to have healthy teeth, you should kept it in mind that it depends on four major factors: correct oral hygiene routine, diet, harmful habits, and physical activity. It is also important to visit the dentist for preventive examination at least twice a year. However, according to the doctor, the first and main rule, which does not change for years, is brush teeth regularly, twice a day, in the morning and in the evening before going to bed, during two minutes.
“There is a variety of tooth pastes available in the market today. They are broken down according to age groups. Also, there are special tooth pastes or creams for those who suffer from certain tooth or gum diseases. From 4 years of age, it is already possible to introduce dental floss and rinsing liquid in children’s hygiene routine”, Jurevičienė says about the measures suitable for children’s oral hygiene.
According to the specialist, in order to keep teeth healthy, it is important to ensure correct eating habits, for example, to minimise snacks taken during the day.
“There must be three main meals, and there may be luncheon and afternoon snack between them. Best of all, that these consist of fruits, various healthy fruit and vegetable cocktails. It is necessary to take less sugary, sticky food products“, advises the doctor. She also noted that, in order to avoid dental health problems, it is needed to make it a habit to rinse the mouth after a meal, and infants should never be given sugary drinks from a bottle.
Jurevičienė says that a mother can start taking care of the children’s teeth as early as she is pregnant – it is necessary to ensure that the women receives enough minerals, especially calcium. The children who have turned one year old can also be given calcium products intended for them: calcium is beneficial not only the teeth, but also for bone and muscle development.
One month can lead to more serious health problems
We should remember one truth, which is known to almost everyone but is often overlooked: in order to ensure that the children’s teeth are healthy, it is also important to visit the dentist regularly. If a child is below six, it is recommended to see a specialist every four months from the emergence of the first milk tooth.
“The state of milk teeth changes rapidly, so parents may miss a dental cavity, especially if the tooth decay occurs from the side of the diastema. Just a month or two can lead to a situation where the tooth failure reaches dental pulp”, warns the doctor.
More frequent visits to professionals should also be kept in mind after the first milk molars erupt – it is recommended to cover them with sealants. According to Jurevičienė, older children who have mixed occlusion should visit the dental office twice a year; however, the frequency of such visits also depends on the individual mouth cavity condition.
Parents should also keep in mind taking children to the dentist in summer, as the school year approaches, because the learning institution will need a certificate of the child’s health condition.
What to do if the child is very afraid of the dental practitioner?
The fact that your efforts to get your child used to visiting the dentist regularly are fruitless in no way means that you are trying too little. According to Jurevičienė, each child is individual, has his or her own character type, and sometimes it is simply too difficult for parents to persuade their children to forget the fears.
“Certainly, there are parents who sincerely work with their children at home, explain the advantages of healthy teeth, show them various videos about healthy teeth and what may happen if they are not treated, even buy various dental games, but this may turn to be inefficient”, acknowledged the specialist.
According to her, the best thing is when the first visits to the dentist are educational, begin as soon as the first teeth erupts and take place regularly. The specialist says that if attempts to dispel the child’s fears fail, advice from professional psychologists can be sought.
Jurevičienė encourages to keep it in mind that the pattern of parents is one of the best training means for the children.
“If we ourselves adhere to correct oral hygiene habits, this will already be half of the work of teaching them the children. They learn doing everything by observing their environment. This should be followed by patience, consistency and determination to teach the child correct oral care. For this reason, parents themselves must request advice from dental practitioners or hygiene specialists in order to learn correct personal oral hygiene”, speaks the doctor about how to teach children to practice oral hygiene.