It’s been relatively known that dental check-ups especially for young children is either postponed, or, neglected due to misinformation shared to us by our friends and family. This usually results in younger children not getting dental care soon enough. Thankfully, Parents Avenue is getting the basics covered with Dr. Sylvia of Phi Dental on the importance of dental check-ups for young children.
Before we start with the hard-hitting questions, Dr. Sylvia begins by explaining the essentials as to why dental check-ups for kids are absolutely necessary, “Oral health is fundamental to overall health, wellbeing and quality of life. A healthy mouth enables children to eat, speak and socialize with peers without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.”
Now, the importance of dental-check ups for young children are many, says Dr. Sylvia, they include and are not limited to:
· Allow dental problems to be caught early on
· Teaches good hygiene at an early age
· Ensure healthy development of teeth and mouth
“Routine check-ups enable us to detect early childhood caries, or milk bottle caries. Since we monitor dental conditions early on, we can provide preventive care by application of fluoride varnish, these can prevent the future development of caries.” Dr. Sylvia is also an advocate of applying “Tell, Show, Do” strategy at every dental visit.
“We tell children why they have to visit dental centers routinely, show them the environment and let them touch and feel the instruments we use. This is to help them familiarize them with the dental set-up.” She said, “Many parents only bring children to see the dentist when kids are in pain. This will leave children with a fearful memory where their dental visits are directly linked to painful experiences.”
As for ensuring the proper and healthy development of young children’s teeth and mouth, Dr. Sylvia lays down that baby teeth are the groundwork for adult teeth, subsequently influencing how are adult teeth will form. “When a baby’s teeth are healthy, it’s easier for adult teeth to come in healthier and straighter. Neglecting to properly care for baby teeth causes them to fall out too soon and cause the remaining teeth to move forwards,” and this has ghastly impact on our adult teeth.
“Our permanent teeth are more likely to grow crooked and out of place. Maintaining healthy teeth during the early stages of development prevents additional orthodontic work in the future, as well.”
What’s Included in An Assessment during a Check-Up
Expanding more on other areas of up-keeping children’s teeth, Dr. Sylvia recommends a check-up every six months is preferred. As for the proper age for babies to see the dentist, within the first six months after the first tooth erupts, or, by age one.
Typically, dentists will assess a number of things during a check-up such as:
· Evaluate a child’s oral hygiene and overall health such as drinking and eating habits, and risk of overall tooth decay
· Assess how much fluoride the child is getting through diet and use of oral hygiene products
· Look for sores and bumps on y our child’s tongue, inside the cheeks, and on the roof of the mouth
· Evaluate the impacts such as pacifier use and thumb sucking
· Take dental X-rays, if necessary, and do other diagnostic procedures
Causes of Dental Health Problem in Children
Speaking on a broader subject, Dr. Sylvia mentions the common dental problem facing children this day. “Dental caries. The enamel on a child’s tiny teeth is 50% thinner than the enamel on an adult’s teeth. Once the decay begins, it does more damage more quickly and when left unchecked, it can turn into a cavity.”
There are many reasons contributing to these problems, mainly, bad oral habits among children such as:
· Sugary snack or drinks:
Children won’t always brush their teeth after eating. The residue and debris from their snack will sit on their teeth and won’t be removed. If these snacks or drinks contain a large amount of sugar, the child will face a higher risk of decay.
· Sucking on their fingers or thumb:
This habit may seem harmless when your child is young, but in truth, it’s a hard bad oral habit to break. As your child grows older, this continued sucking can cause their front teeth to protrude and create a deformity in the mouth and teeth leading to a “buck” tooth appearance.
· Grinding teeth:
Not only can grinding teeth wear down and damage the surface of teeth, it can also lead to jaw problems later in life. Dentists can help fabricate a mouth guard to reduce wear and prevent damage.
Symptoms of Unhealthy Oral Health in Kids:
For parents who are looking for the tell-tale signs to nip the problem at the bud for their children’s oral health, Dr. Sylvia recommends to spot these following symptoms:
· White Spots/Brown spot noticed on teeth:
If you notice what appears to be chalky/white spots on your child’s teeth, this may be a sign that dental caries (cavity) may be beginning to develop.
· Irritated Gums:
If your child complains of their gums hurting after they brush or if their gums are red, swollen or bleeding. Irritated gums may indicate gingivitis, or other health care concerns.
· Sensitive to hot or cold:
If ice cream or hot chocolate (or other cold or hot foods) cause your child to have dental pain, that may be a warning sign that your child has dental caries and may be getting a cavity.
· Loose wiggly teeth:
Losing baby teeth is part of a child growing up and this process can occur from approximately 6 to 12 years old. However, if permanent (adult) tooth were to become wiggly, loose or traumatized, then make an appointment with the dentist to examine and assess this issue as soon as possible.
· Problem/Delays with adult teeth breaking through gums:
At times, the permanent tooth or teeth may come in extremely crooked or with other concerns. If that’s the case, the dentist will examine and assess and may recommend your child to start orthodontic treatment to correct crooked teeth.
Prevention of Oral Problems from Developing
As a preventative measure to avoid from the aforementioned oral problems from developing, Dr. Sylvia has recommended several good dental hygiene habits for children to follow. Firstly, don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth, brush properly for 2minutes each time with fluoride tooth paste. Remember to brush your tongue as well, don’t neglect the tongue.
Secondly, drink more water. This can help wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages in between brushes. Thirdly, eat crunchy foods and vegetables. Ready-to-eat foods are convenient, but perhaps not so much when it comes to your teeth. Eating fresh, crunchy produce not only contains healthier fiber, but it’s also the best choice for your teeth.
Get your kids on harder-to-eat and chew foods at a younger age and avoid the overly mushy processed stuff, stop cutting things into tiny pieces, and get those jaws working! Lastly, limit sugar and acidic food. Sugar converts into acid in the mouth, which can then erode the enamel of your teeth. These acids are what lead to cavities. Acidic fruits can also wear down tooth enamel.
Tips to Make Trips to the Dentist A Walk in The Park with Kids
Empathizing with parents, Dr. Sylvia understands that getting your kids to the dentist’s office can be somewhat of a challenge especially with the anxiety and fear they experience. To lessen these problems, Dr. Sylvia has some tips on making trips to the dentist a breeze for your kids.
· Let your kid tag along with you. Bringing your baby to your own dental appointments may be a good idea, because it can get them familiar with the setting and staff.
· Prep at home for the visit. Before your child’s first dentist appointment, give her an idea what to expect by talking about it in words that she understands – and that won’t terrify her. Telling her the dentist will “count” or “look at” her teeth. Do not hint about he /she has a mouthful of decay to be drilled out. Avoid mentioning “it’s not going to hurt”. Because we don’t want them to focus on negative words like ‘pain ‘or ‘hurt’.
· Time it properly. Be sure to schedule all dentist appointments for times when your child will be comfortable, rested and in a good mood.
· Keep it positive. Keep an upbeat attitude when you’re talking about the dentist, and on the day of the visit. Treat the appointment as something simple, routine and positive. If you do that, your child is going to have a much, much better attitude towards the dentist and the whole dental experience.
· Know when to quit. Despite your best efforts, it’s natural for your children to get anxious or upset when they are in unfamiliar environment. In most cases, it’s likely to pass. But if he just won’t stop screaming, don’t force the issue. It’s better for everyone if you try again another time.
A Message To Our Readers
To wrap up the story, we ask if Dr. Sylvia would like to impart a few words for the readers of Parents Avenue?
“Don’t pass down our own fears to the children. If you experience anxiety when you visit the dentist, you may be passing along your fears to your child without noticing. Be aware of your behaviors and the language you use when around your kids before and after visiting the dentist. If you talk about how much you dislike the experience, exhibit physical manifestations of fear, or communicate other negative feelings you may have about your dental visit to your child, they may interpret this as normal behavior and could end up reacting the same way. Whatever the reason for your own dental anxieties, try not to instil them in your child so that they can learn to see regular dental visits as a normal part of their health care routine.” She imparts confidently.
For more information, you may contact Dr Sylvia at Phi Dental at 013-410 3103 or find them on Facebook via Phi Dental.
Interview and Written by Eve Bandusena, Editorial Assistant