Did you know that deciduous teeth, also known as milk teeth, baby teeth and temporary teeth have a significant role in the further development of a child and his/her oral health? How do I take care of deciduous teeth properly and protect them from tooth decay? Read the advice of dentist Jūlija Katkeviča.
Deciduous teeth should be taken care of from the first day of eruption. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste that is suitable for the child’s age. Although it may seem that the hygiene of deciduous teeth is not important since they are going to fall out, they play a significant role in the child’s development.
Milk teeth create space for the permanent teeth and aid the child in learning how to chew and speak. If the teeth are not taken care of in time, gum inflammation – gingivitis – may form, the teeth start decaying and hurting and there is a risk of premature loss of the teeth. If a child has tooth decay, the oral microflora is unfavourable to the erupting permanent teeth, creating a greater chance of cavities.
How do I successfully get a child into the habit of brushing teeth?
Brush your teeth together with the child, let the child observe you and observe him/her – if necessary, explain and demonstrate instead of correcting and reproving.
- Allow your child to choose his/her toothbrush by taking him/her to the store. The same applies to the toothpaste – let your child choose his/her favourite flavour from what is available.
- After brushing the teeth in the evening, you can promise to do something that the child wants, such as reading their favourite fairy tale. However, do not promise any sweets as a prize!
- Read books or watch cartoons that talk about oral hygiene and brushing teeth. If the child’s favourite animal brushes its teeth, of course, he/she will also be eager about brushing.
- In the pharmacy you can buy a special round-shaped mirror that is concave so that you can see hard-to-reach teeth. With the mirror, you can inspect the teeth together with your child to teach him/her how to brush them correctly.
What should I use for brushing milk teeth?
- Just like adults, children must take care of their teeth by brushing them with a toothbrush and toothpaste. While a child is very young, parents are responsible for brushing. When the child starts doing things himself/herself, parents should also let him/her brush their teeth. This does not mean that the child must be sent to the bathroom alone – no. Parents go to the bathroom together with the child and observe the brushing. If they notice any imperfections – only brushing teeth on one side, not cleaning the tongue, eating the toothpaste or not using it at all – it is the responsibility of the adult to explain to the child how to brush properly and demonstrate it. The best solution would be to visit the dentist together with the child to discuss deciduous tooth care with a professional. Do not forget that up to a certain age the child is not able to brush his/her teeth properly, therefore, re-brushing by the parent is advisable until the age of 8. A child trusts his/her parents and allows you to “check” if all the bacteria is gone.
- When the child is older (6 years old) he/she should be instructed on how to use dental floss. It helps to remove food residues stuck between the teeth, protecting against tooth decay.
- When this skill is mastered, the child should also learn how to clean the tongue. It can be done with the toothbrush or a special tongue cleaner. After cleaning the tongue the toothbrush must be washed thoroughly.
- After brushing, flossing and cleaning the tongue, the child must rinse his/her mouth. Fluoride-containing mouthwash or water may be used.
- Basic rules for brushing teeth:
- Brushing the teeth at least twice a day – in the morning and evening.
- Brushing all teeth from all sides, brushing every group of teeth at least 10 times.
- Brushing teeth for at least 2 minutes.
- Choosing age-appropriate oral care products.
- Flossing every evening.
- Cleaning the tongue.
- Rinsing the mouth after every procedure.