Dental care for kids has often been ignored yet it is vital to teach pre-schoolers the importance of dental hygiene. Healthy teeth are an asset for your child.
On the contrary, poor oral health can lead to tooth and gum issues that can lead to serious infections. Poor oral health also cases pain, discomfort, lack of confidence and increase risks of dental infections.
In a nutshell, dental care for pre-schoolers is vital for their overall health, growth and mental development. Hence, you should avoid taking this issue lightly.
With that note, let me begin with this article and highlight the importance of pediatric dental care.
Dental Care for Kids Article Contents:
1) What is Dental Care for Kids?
2) What is the Role of a Pediatric Dentist?
3) How to Take Dental Care for Babies up to 3 Years of Age?
4) Where to Find Free Dental Care for Kids?
5) What is the Importance of Pediatric Dental Care?
6) What Causes Tooth & Gum Diseases in Kids?
7) How to Teach Dental Hygiene to Preschoolers?
8) How to Detect Gum Infection in Your Child?
9) Best Home Remedies for Gingivitis in Toddlers
10) Final Words on Dental Care for Kids
What is Dental Care for Kids?
Dental care for kids can be divided into two broad categories:
>>> The first is termed as pediatric dentistry. It ranges from when the child is born right up to the adult age.
>>> The second is dental care for babies. This ranges from when the baby is born to when he/she is 3 years of age.
Pediatric dentistry is recognized in USA, Canada and Australia. In USA, it is recommended to have the child visit a pediatrician after the child has had its first tooth eruption.
Parents are also to be involved in this process. Dentists trained to oversee the tooth & gum health of children are supposed to train parents as well. They teach parents to encourage healthy oral hygiene habits in their kids.
The first pediatric dental clinic was opened in the United States in the year 1909. The dentist that initiated this process was Minnie Jordon.
How does One Become a Pediatric Dentist?
@ You need to get a degree in biomedical science, social science or health science from a recognized college in USA.
@ During the degree obtainment process, you can work (part time) at an academic research center majoring in Kid’s health, kid’s hospital or a dental hospital that specializes in treating kids.
@ After obtaining the degree, you need to enroll in a dental school. This is a 4 year long course. After the completion of the course, you become doctor of dental medicine or doctor of dental surgery.
@ You get a license to practice as a dentist only when you clear the Nation Board Dental Examination papers. There are two parts to this paper. You also need to pass a clinical skill examination.
@ If you wish to become a specialized pediatric dentist, you need to complete a postgraduate program from a government accredited institute. You get a certificate in pediatric dentistry after the successful completion of this program.
@ If you wish to become a pediatric dentist certified by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, you need to pass their examinations.
Dentistry for Babies:
The second branch of dentistry is based on looking after infants till they are 3 years of age. This brand of dentistry started operating after the cases of dental caries in kids started increasing at warp speed.
This brand of dentistry got active in Brazil in the year 1986. The lesions that were caused by dental caries were treated in this hospital. Soon, such hospitals for kids started to open shop in other parts of the world as well.
The main aim of such hospitals was to identify dental ailments in 0-3 year olds. So the practicing dentist identifies the problem, diagnose the issue and offer post treatment care.
What is the Role of a Pediatric Dentist?
>>> A pediatric dentist identifies the issue that the concerned baby is suffering from. After the diagnosis is complete, the dentist shall offer the best available treatment.
>>> The dentist is supposed to offer both restorative as well as preventive dental care to kids.
>>> The concerned dentist should have the ability to read x-ray reports. He should also be apt at interpreting and executing diagnostic tests.
>>> Pediatric dentist should be trained in administrating anesthesia to children. The dentist should be proficient in administering high, medium and low doses of sedation.
>>> You should be able to deliver optimal treatment for kids with special health care needs. The dentist should also be able to diagnose and treat patients that have no special healthcare needs.
>>> If the child is suffering from pain or infection in the tooth & gum area then, you (as a dental child specialist) should be able to provide a solution for the same.
>>> Jaw and the tooth development related issues (of the child) should be handled optimally.
>>> Surgical procedures of the gum, tooth, soft tissue as well as the oral cavity should be conducted by the dentist.
>>> Orthodontics treatments for the child should be performed flawlessly.
How to do Dental Care for Babies up to 3 Years of Age?
When a child is born to when they are about 3 years of age, the dental well being is maintained by a specialist. These specialists are apt at maintaining dental care for babies.
The main areas wherein these dental specialists excel are dental caries, trauma to the gum/teeth, fighting bacterial infection and educating preventive healthcare best practices.
Here is what they all do in order to ensure that your child stays free from oral infections:
>>> Child dental specialists educate parents on how to maintain optimal oral and gum health of their child.
>>> The art of taking care of temporary or milk teeth is also discussed with parents.
>>> Dentists suggest not making use of pacifiers and thumb suckers.
>>> They look after accidental tooth loss or gum damage.
>>> Child dental specialist identifies and treats childhood caries. The art of preventing caries is also performed by these dental specialists.
>>> Dentists train parents on how to take care of their kid’s minor dental issues at home.
>>> Child specialist shall also check the status of the mother’s dental health. This is tallied with the dental health of the child.
>>> Diet suggestions are also provided by the dentist. Night-time feeds are also suggested for maintaining optimal dental health of the child.
>>> Removal of plaque and use of fluoride is also explained to the parents (by the child dental specialist).
Where to Find Free Dental Care for Kids?
When it comes to taking care of your child’s dental health, the cost of the treatment is perhaps the biggest deterrent for most parents. The cost involved in root canal treatment, cavities, plaque reduction and extracting tooth, is not easy on the wallet.
This is why most parents seek subsidized dental care for their children. While every dental treatment cannot be free, you can avail discounts.
Here are a few ways to find free dental care for kids:
Opting for Child Health Insurance:
All children under the age of twenty years should opt for state based child insurance. You need to apply for Medicaid. Once accepted, your child can avail discounts on medical expenditure.
More than 40% dentists in the United States accept dental insurance. So, you can easily hope to save serious money while getting your child treated. Nonetheless, it is suggested that you check with the dentist before paying a visit. Some dentists may not accept Medicaid.
Enrolling for Trials at Research Institutes:
If your child is suffering from dental ailments that are beyond the scope of normal dentistry then, you may consider clinical trials. These trials are conducted by research institutes.
If you qualify, your child can not only get treated for free, post dental care is also provided at a nominal cost. Do remember that such trials do not include normal dental services.
Free Dental Check-Up Camps:
Another way to access free dental check-up and treatment for your child is via community events. Over here, a particular community organizes camps wherein dental services are provided to kids free of any cost.
In such camps, dentists perform screening and cleaning procedures. They also offer their services to treat the child in the wake of any dental infection.
Opting for Dental Clinics in Schools:
When you are in a dental school, you have the distinct advantage of taking advantage of the low fee structure. Dental schools offer highly subsidized services for treating their patients.
Kids suffering from dental ailments can be taken to such schools to get treated. Not only would you save money, your child shall get the best possible treatment.
You may have to make a list of all the dental schools before finalizing your child’s visit. Simply look up the internet to get the list. In my (LeanAndFit review staff) opinion, you may also call up their dental clinic and ask for their pricing structure.
What is the Importance of Pediatric Dental Care?
Tooth decay is quite an affair with kids. Also known as cavities, this condition is painful and can lead to serious damage of the tooth and gum (if left untreated). So, treating oral infections in kids is of vital importance. It should never be ignored.
Here is why you need pediatric dental care for your kids:
>>> It saves their tooth and gums from further damage. You become capable of nipping the evil in the bud.
>>> You as a parent learn how to take good care of your child’s oral cavity.
>>> The pain and infection caused by bacterial development in your child’s oral cavity is well taken care of.
>>> Your child shall always be confident and have a confident smile. This is owing to the simple fact that your kid’s gum and teeth would be in sound condition.
>>> The child would be able to concentrate in his/her school work. He shall also excel in sports and related activities.
>>> When the oral health of your child is sound, he can chew easily. He/she shall also be able to sleep in complete peace.
>>> It has been noticed that 50% of children below the age of 13 years have tooth and gum related diseases. It is therefore imperative to control this alarming rate by offering necessary pediatric care.
What Causes Tooth & Gum Diseases in Kids?
Your child’s teeth are a vital and should never be ignored. You need to ensure that you maintain optimal oral health of your kid in order to avoid further complications.
Gums are also important as they hold your kid’s teeth in place. So, you need to take care of both the teeth & gums. When your kid’s gums are in good condition, they fight bacterial infection. This helps keep the teeth of your child free from bacterial infection.
When the gums of your child are not working optimally, they tend to develop pocket. These pockets tend to contain bacterial deposits. If left untreated, your kid can develop periodontal diseases. Once that happens, the trauma your child suffers is indescribable. So, infections of such stature need to be avoided at all costs.
What is Gum Diseases in Kids?
Step # 1: Before I begin to explain the main causes behind tooth and gum disease in kids, I need to first explain this concept. Gum disease in kids is a condition wherein bacteria bind with the food particles present in the mouth.
Step # 2: When this deadly combination remains within the oral cavity of your child, it turns into plaque. If plaque is left untreated, it turns into tartar. This is a hardened form of plaque that is tough to clean.
Step # 3: If you still ignore tartar then, it can turn into periodontal disease. This is when the gum of your child separates leading to the development of pockets. These pockets hold bacterial deposits. This may lead to your kid’s gum and teeth falling out.
What are the Major Causes of Gum Disease in Kids?
Your Child Forgets to Brush Daily:
The biggest reason why your child develops tooth & gum infection is he/she forgets to brush. Your child needs to brush his/her teeth twice daily. This needs to be done once before sleeping and once after waking up in the morning.
If your child tends to grind, clench his/her teeth, it may loosen the gums. This condition is also termed as bruxism. The pockets thus created tend to collect food particles. This in turn attracts bacteria. The final result is plaque and tartar.
Ailments that Adversely Affect Natural Immunity:
In certain cases, kids suffer from autoimmune ailments. A common example of the same is diabetes. Sjogren’s syndrome is another example. These diseases tend to hamper the natural production of saliva.
Lack of saliva in the mouth tends to encourage the development of plaque. This in turn turns into tartar. Finally, the tooth and gum is adversely affected despite the kid taking care of his/her oral hygiene.
During puberty, your kid’s hormone levels change dramatically. In order to counter the raging hormones, blood circulation in your kid’s body increases. This causes your gums to become sensitive to even the most minor infection.
The Side Effect of Drugs:
If your kid is taking medicines to combat a lingering ailment then, the side effects of such medications may be bad for their oral health. Medicines (Tetracycline based drugs) that block calcium absorption in the body are a classic example.
Your Family History is to Blame:
In case your forefathers have a history of dental ailments then, your child is in danger. Contracting tooth and gum diseases for such kids is a high risk probability. You need to check your family history to ascertain this factor.
When your kid’s diet is missing the essential vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins then, their oral health is compromised. Minerals such as calcium and vitamins are vita for healthy teeth & gums.
Excessive processed sugar intake also causes bacterial infection in the oral cavity. So, if your child eats candies, chocolates and muffins then, he/she is susceptible to bacterial infections.
Incorrect Breathing Technique:
When your child breathes through the nose then, everything is normal. Nonetheless, when he/she starts to breathe through his/her mouth then, all hell breaks loose.
This is owing to the air evaporating the natural saliva production. This ensures that your mouth remains dry. When your mouth is dry, it encourages the development of harmful bacteria.
How to Teach Dental Hygiene to Preschoolers?
As kids are unable to use mouthwash or floss optimally, they need to be taught good oral hygiene. This task is to be carried out by their parents. Paying visits to the local dental clinic is not the solution that your kids are seeking.
Well, here is how parents can teach dental hygiene to pre-schoolers:
Basics to Brushing Your Teeth Daily:
To start off with, you need to teach your child the importance of brushing his/her teeth. This needs to be done once before breakfast and once after dinner.
The Importance of Flossing:
When your child is about three years of age, he/she needs to be taught the art of flossing. This is to be taught by the parent in a slow yet steady manner. Within a week, your child shall develop the habit of flossing alone.
The Fluoride Toothpaste:
To avoid fluoride deficiency in kids, you might want to introduce fluoride toothpaste into your daily routine. This helps maintain optimal vitamin and mineral balance in your child’s oral cavity. Simply use medically approved fluoride toothpaste.
Encourage Raw Fruits and Fresh Vegetables:
Encourage your child to consume fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Chewing an apple or a carrot helps salivary production. This action also exercises the jaw.
Your child’s gum absorbs the vitamins and minerals present in the fruit/vegetable optimally. So basically, you are able to help the child maintain optimal oral health.
Reduce Processed Sugar Intake:
Processed sugar causes irreparable harm to the gum and tooth of your child. Consumption of candy, cola, ice-cream, pudding, waffles and donuts should be minimized.
These contain processed sugar that is bad for your child’s oral health and upkeep. Sugar tends to encourage bacterial activity in the mouth. When bacteria bind with sugar, it tends to decay the tooth of your child.
Gargle after Every Sugary Meal:
Kids love to eat cakes, pastries, donuts, ice-creams and you should not stop them. Nonetheless, the aftermath of these sugar laden foods to your child’s oral cavity is disastrous.
To avoid infection from spreading and turning into a periodontal disease, encourage your child to gargle. Warm water gargles after every sugar rich meal is advisable.
How to Detect Gum Infection in Your Child?
@ The first tell-tale sign is the discoloration of the gum. So from pink, the gums may turn light pink or even red in color.
@ Your child might experience pain while brushing teeth. The pain is experienced in the gum area.
@ The gums may start to bleed during a brushing session.
@ Sometimes, pus starts to develop in between the gum area.
@ Inflammation in the gum is also a sign of gum infection in kids.
@ The natural bite of your child may be affected.
@ Breath of your child smells awful despite brushing teeth twice daily.
@ You may notice the gums of your child receding.
@ Lastly, teeth may become lose and develop spaces. Some may even fall off.
Best Home Remedies for Gingivitis in Toddlers
There is no better happiness than watching your child smile. Nonetheless, when your child has tooth and gum infection, the same smile transforms into a frown.
Gingivitis in kids is not uncommon. Swelled and discolored gums that sometimes bleed are a tell-tale sign of gingivitis infection in kids. To save your beloved child from this pain and discomfort, you can adopt home remedies. Nonetheless, not all remedies are the same.
Here are some home remedies to treat gingivitis in kids:
Salt & Lemon Water Gargles:
Saline gargles are undoubtedly an effective and safe way to treat oral infections. Simply mix a juice of lime into a glass of lukewarm water. Add half a tablespoon of salt to it. Have your child gargle using this solution.
Hold the water inside the mouth for about 15 seconds before spitting it out. You may perform this twice a day for a period of 4 days. This solution gets rid of food debris stuck to your kid’s oral cavities.
Natural Oil based Gargles:
Put a few drops of lemongrass oil in a glass of water. Ask your child to gargle using this solution. You may perform this gargle twice daily for a few days. Spit out the solution after keeping it in the mouth for about 15 seconds.
In case you do not have access to lemon grass oil, you may use aloe vera juice or tea tree oil instead. The process is just the same. These natural oils help cleanse the bacterial deposits present within the oral cavity of your child.
Use coconut oil for this very purpose. Place a tablespoon of oil inside the child’s mouth and ask him/her to slosh it around. Spit it after keeping it inside the mouth for about 15 seconds.
Coconut oil has natural anti-bacterial properties. It is also an anti-septic. This oil helps maintain optimal oral health of your child. Bacterial and plaque deposits tend to dissolve (and get removed) via this method.
Final Words on Dental Care for Kids
Dental care for kids is an essential task that every parent needs to complete. Gingivitis in toddlers is a common problem. The main culprit is lack of oral hygiene. Simply put, parents are not taking adequate care of their child’s dental health.
As a parent, teaching your kids the importance of oral hygiene is vital. You also need to stand with toddlers and teach them the art of brushing their teeth properly, eating healthy foods and maintaining a safe distance from sugar laden goodies.
When your kid has perfect dental health, the bright smile on the face shall become an everyday affair. This shall bring a smile on your face as well.