BY the time a child is getting into school, he or she would have had almost a full set of their milk teeth.
As we had discussed earlier in last week’s reading by this time a child should have familiarised his or herself with good hygiene practices with the help of their parents.
Good oral hygiene in a child is of utmost importance as at this point a child learns the art of socialisation and self-confidence.
Once a child loses his or her teeth be it front or back leads to low self esteem and lack of confidence.
Pre-school children spend a lot of time away from their parents, hence instilling in them good oral practices as soon as they hit their first birthday enables them to be conscious or aware of bad practices.
A common saying known to us all is you can’t teach an old dog new tricks applies somewhat in this case, however, it’s never too late to teach and train someone in good vices.
By the time the child is in pre-school he or she will have the urge to brush teeth on their own. Here though a few dental care habits for pre-schooling children.
Ensure your child brushes teeth twice a day, i.e. morning after breakfast and at night before bedtime, if child takes any sticky sweet foods between meals, he or she should be encouraged to rinse mouth to help rid the teeth surfaces of them.
Right tooth brushing techniques should be taught to a child, and tooth brush be changed every three months or once the bristles begin to flare.
Habits such as thumb or finger sucking, nail biting, lip sucking should be stopped and use of pacifier completely eliminated.
It takes about six weeks to break a habit. First two weeks is for cognitive realisation that you have a bad a habit and last weeks are for reinforcement.
Children with such habits need to be told the effect of these habits that way can they stop.
Effects include anterior open bite, where the front teeth do not meet resulting in a lisp.
Children should be encouraged to drink plenty water as this not only maintains their oral health but their general health as well.
Maintenance or a good oral hygiene at this stage of a child life prevents the child from having premature loss of teeth due to tooth decay or periodontitis.
Premature loss of teeth can lead to abnormal eruption of permanent teeth.
Dental care for school going children is just as important. At this time of childrens lives, their permanent teeth begin to erupt; hence they have a mixed dentition of primary and permanent teeth.
This stage also known as the ugly duckling stage requires utmost enforcement of good oral hygiene habits.
By the time 28 permanent teeth are out, most dental practioners would have begun offering oral primary preventive programs in schools, such as fluoride supplements, placement of fissure sealants and basic education to children on how to take care of their oral cavity.
Habits that can be instilled into a childs good oral hygiene practices include
• Brushing twice a day after breakfast and before bed time, accompanied by flossing at least twice a week.
• Adequate tooth brushing about 2-3 minutes and child be encouraged to rise and spit right after, and avoid swallowing tooth paste.
• Encourage healthy eating, that is a diet rich in fruits, grains and vegetables.
• Tooth brushes should never be shared and should be kept nicely rinsed and let to air dry.
If a permanent tooth seems to be damaged, it’s better to visit the dentist as soon as possible, to avoid tooth decay complications such as abscess formation.
In concluding here are a few health tips to get you going
• Have regular dental check ups
• Brush your teeth after meals, namely after breakfast and before going to bed
• Floss your teeth daily, to clean areas between your teeth where tooth brush cannot reach
• Use your teeth only for chewing food and not for open bottle tops and chewing pen lids.
In ending the theme for this year’s World Oral Health Day which fell on March 20 was, ‘It all starts here. A healthy mouth, A healthy body.’
This is to say how important your oral health impacts your overall health, so let’s all ensure to take care of our childrens’ and our own oral health in the best way we can.