Oral hygiene in pediatric age
From the first feeds, even if the eruption of the first tooth has not yet occurred, it is important for the mother to accustom the child to oral hygiene performed with a sterile gauze gently passed over the gums.
When putting the baby to sleep, the use of a bottle containing sweetened beverages should be avoided, and if necessary, water should be used. In fact, the sweeteners and preservatives contained in the chamomiles and juices would settle all night on the teeth, becoming the first responsible for caries on the deciduous teeth.
This eventuality is widespread and is known as “baby bottle caries”.
Role of parents in oral hygiene in children
It is very important to explain to parents that cariogenic bacteria, especially Streptococci, play a primary role in the beginning of the carious process. To colonize the oral cavity, streptococci need an adhesion surface, and as soon as the first milk teeth emerge they find their substrate suitable for proliferation.
These bacteria are transmitted through the saliva from the first years of life often from the parents to the children, tasting the food before taking the child or wetting the fallen pacifier in its own mouth.
These habits should definitely be avoided, and a good way to start the prevention of the small will be to monitor the home and professional hygiene of the parents. Let us not forget that the deciduous dentition (milk teeth) can be contaminated by tooth decay and, if proper prophylaxis measures are not taken, it can continue to the permanent dentition.
Oral hygiene in mixed dentition
After the meal, the parents have to brush the child’s teeth with suitable toothbrushes and toothpaste containing fluorine or hydroxyapatite suitable for an effective repair of the enamel affected by the bacteria. The amount of toothpaste to put on the toothbrush should be minimal.
After the mother has practiced oral hygiene, the child can educate him to the correct use of the toothbrush by washing his teeth in turn. After three / four years, if well educated, it is the child himself who will begin to take care of keeping his smile healthy by understanding that brushing his teeth after every meal and especially before going to bed is a good rule of life.
A great help is given by the example provided by the parents: the child who daily sees parents who perform oral hygiene spontaneously is led to imitate them.
Oral hygiene in school age
Around the sixth year of life, with the eruption of the first permanent teeth, parents’ attention to oral hygiene must even more increase and focus also on proper nutrition. The appropriate toothbrush will already have a shape and size similar to that for an adult and if the child has little manual skills, to facilitate oral hygiene maneuvers, the use of an electric toothbrush could be considered having the foresight to instruct him properly by turning to a hygienist or dentist.
Even the toothpaste will already have a higher concentration of fluoride because now the child at this age has total control over swallowing, without fear that large amounts of toothpaste and therefore fluorides are ingested.
Food tips for healthy teething
The objectives of a correct diet are to limit the quantity, control the quality and frequency of sugar intake. A greater incidence of caries is attributable not only to the quantity of sugar ingested, but above all to the frequency of intake during the day.
In fact, the acid environment that is created every time lasts for tens of minutes in the oral cavity: small and repeated quantities, as in the case of frequent sweets, are more dangerous than a similar quantity consumed at one time.
Example, if it is really inevitable, children can be advised to eat 2/3 sweets one after the other and then brush their teeth, rather than dilute them over an afternoon. Another good tip is to discourage children from taking food out of the meal and above all to ask them to avoid sugary foods with a friable adhesive consistency.
An apple, a sandwich, milk or cheese are certainly preferable to a snack, just as water is preferable to sugary drinks.