All the things you should know about children’s dentistry
Having children brings with it a steep learning curve, but dentistry is often the last thing you think about as an important part of your young child’s life.
Afterall, they don’t even have teeth for the best part of their first year of life. Or at least, they don’t have visible teeth! BUT, did you know that babies’ teeth start to develop before they are even born?
They are equipped from early on and so we need to be ready and equipped to take care of them from the very beginning. So, we have put together an all-you-need-to-know guide on children’s dentistry below.
Here are some important things to be aware of when it comes to your child’s dental health:
Tooth Decay is a common childhood disease
Tooth decay is an extremely prevalent, yet preventable, harmful dental condition among children. Often this health condition brings with it a number of issues, not least of all destroying your child’s teeth and causing lifelong problems.
In Australia, recent statistics suggest that around 2 in 5 (42%) children had experienced decay in their primary (baby) teeth, and 1 in 4 (24%) children had experienced decay in their permanent (adult) teeth.
Further to this, in 2011, dental decay was the 7th leading cause of total disease burden among boys aged 5–14, and the 4th among girls.
You can help prevent cavities
Whilst the numbers tend to suggest otherwise, cavities in children are largely preventable. There are 3 key behaviours that can reduce your child’s chances of developing teeth problems, including: brushing regularly, drinking tap water to ensure the consumption of fluoride, and eating a varied and healthy diet.
In particular, fluoride is capable of preventing and reversing early stages of tooth decay.
Once ingested, fluoride plays a role in strengthening developing teeth. The fluoride is taken to the developing teeth, where it helps reinforce the enamel (the protective layer on the teeth). Reinforced enamel is much more resistant to tooth decay. It is important to keep in mind, however, that fluoride is not capable of repairing cavities.
Poor dental health is not directly related to lolly consumption
While all Australian states and territories provide fluoridated tap/public water, coverage varies across each jurisdiction. The proportion of the population with access to fluoridated water ranges from 76% in Queensland to 100% in the Australian Capital Territory. Statistics on fluoridated water highlight the fact that, as is commonly believed, lollies are not always the key determinant in why children do or do not develop cavities.
Some population groups also face greater challenges in accessing oral health care and experience the greatest burden of poor oral health. However, education around healthier food choices can help to level the playing field.
Be aware of the types of foods your child is consuming, remembering that the sugar we fear from lollies can often also be hiding in many of our other day to day foods. For example, it is important to limit starchy snacks such as cookies, bread and crackers as tooth decay develops from acid-producing bacteria that feeds off carbohydrates.
Additionally, remember to encourage brushing after such foods are consumed.
Children should visit the dentist at as young as one year old
The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that every child should visit a dentist by age 1 – or as soon as the first tooth appears. This “well baby visit” teaches parents and caregivers how to care for their children’s teeth and help them remain cavity-free.
Without such a visit, many parents unintentionally neglect their children’s precious ‘baby teeth’. Meanwhile, it is strongly recommended that as soon as children’s teeth begin appearing, parents should begin gently brushing or wiping them, before introducing a fluoridated toothpaste from 18 months.
It’s important to begin caring for your child’s teeth from the beginning
It is important to remember that baby teeth are crucial for several reasons. Not only do they help children chew, which is necessary for good nutrition, but baby teeth also play a significant role with speech development. You should not forget that baby teeth help save space for permanent teeth, so taking care of them should be a top priority!
Be sure to equip yourself with the right information on what causes decay, the importance of transitioning from bottle use to cups after age 1 for sugary drinks such as juice and milk, and how to properly brush young teeth.
Your child can catch cavities if you’re not careful
Additionally, make sure you are taking the time and making an effort to take care of your oral health as well! Not only will your little one begin emulating your actions and noticing your common habits, they can also ‘catch’ cavities from you and other close caregivers.
According to literature, “71% of tooth decay cases are caused by the transmission of bacteria from a mother to her infant. The primary culprit is Streptococcus mutans, a strain of bacteria that is passed through the transfer of saliva.”
Therefore, caregivers should be mindful of their oral health in order to ensure harmful bacteria is not transmitted during activities such as blowing on food, sharing utensils, and even kissing.
What to do now you know the importance of children’s dentistry?
The key things to remember when it comes to your child’s dental health is that it is never too early to be aware of the risks and preventative measures available to you.
Cavities are the most common oral disease in children, but with early intervention in the form of cleaning, healthy eating and prioritising fluoride intake, you can help prevent poor oral health.
If you’re in need of a paediatric dentist in the Newcastle area, please feel free to reach out to us and book an appointment for further information and support!