Why You Should Look After ‘Baby Teeth’
Don’t wait until adult teeth appear before starting good oral care habits
Unlike sharks, which continually lose and replace their teeth around 37,000 times during their lifetime, we humans only have two sets of teeth, and when they are gone, they are gone.
We know that we will lose our first set of teeth however well we look after them, but this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take good care of them whilst we still have them. In fact, failing to do so could have unexpected consequences later on in our life.
At the Confidental Clinic, your dentist in Streatham, we always encourage parents to take responsibility for their children’s teeth, starting at a young age. Supervision and constant encouragement go a long way to helping them clean their teeth properly, and avoiding the pitfalls that would probably happen if they didn’t.
Don’t let them suffer
The most obvious reason to make sure that your children’s teeth are looked after well, is that you don’t want them to be in pain. A severe toothache can be extremely painful to a young child and is almost certain to result in little or no sleep for both the child and the parent(s). Although tooth decay can still occur even if you brush your teeth well (especially given that children usually love sugar), the chances of it are greatly reduced. It is worth remembering that, for younger children, teeth extraction will probably have to take place in hospital and not at your local dental practice. So certainly something to be avoided.
Not just the baby teeth
If your child has undetected and untreated cavities, the bacteria count in the mouth is likely to be very high, especially where cleaning is poor. Not only does this run the risk of toothache in the baby teeth, but can also affect the health of secondary teeth as they erupt through the gums.
It is important therefore, that any decay in baby teeth should be treated in the most appropriate way, and according to their age. We appreciate that having dental treatment can be quite frightening for a young child, but it is done for the health of both baby and secondary teeth. We will always carry out the least invasive treatment possible that is viable for the child’s particular problem. Both fillings and even root canal treatments may be carried out to save and protect a natural baby tooth.
Bone health and teeth development
Where bacteria are out of control, it may not just be the teeth that are affected. As in adults, children can have gum disease too. If this is not treated early on it may develop into periodontitis and, not only are sore and bleeding gums possible, but it may well also mean that the bone supporting the teeth becomes compromised. This can harm the development of any adult teeth that are yet to erupt.
Like adults, the best way to monitor and control these dental issues is through a sensible diet, keeping sugar in moderation, but also making sure that you child sees one of our Streatham dentists on at least a six monthly basis. Good home brushing is also key and we are always happy to offer advice on this, if needed.
Children brush but still have tooth decay?
Unsurprisingly, some parents express concern when their child has cavities despite them brushing their teeth. The fact is that, even though your child brushes their teeth, they are likely to do it less well and for a much shorter time than adults (hopefully) do. If you say ‘2 minutes’ to a child, that length of time can mean a number of things. If you say ‘2 minutes to bedtime’ you can be sure that means at least ten minutes to them, whereas ‘make sure to brush your teeth for 2 minutes’ probably means a 5 second scrub to make their mouth taste nicer. This is why supervision is so important, at least until you feel that you can trust your child to brush their teeth well, unsupervised.
Another factor, of course, is diet. It is well known that parents have to be observant of the amount of sugars that their children consume, restricting it as best as possible. Children burn energy fast though and are likely to snack a lot too. Even where sugar is largely avoided, regular snacking can cause damage to the enamel of young teeth over a period of time. As far as possible, try to stick to three regular meals, with any snacks as tooth friendly as possible. Also moderate the use of fruit drinks and especially sugary, fizzy drinks.
Don’t wait until your child’s adult teeth have come through before taking them for a dental visit. Early monitoring and treatment may not only prevent toothache problems, but may play a major part in ensuring healthy adult teeth too.
If you wish to see a children’s dentist at the Confidental Clinic in Streatham, please call us on 020 8674 2052.