Protecting children’s oral health

Bacteria that causes tooth decay can be passed from parent and caregivers to child.
A few of the most common ways this happens is by sharing toothbrushes, transferring saliva from eating utensils, by parents using their mouth to clean a pacifier, pre-chewing food or testing the temperature of the liquid in a feeding bottle before giving it to a child. To most parents these things are normal and almost unavoidable right? So what’s the way forward?

To prevent parents and caregivers passing bacteria onto children, the first step is to make sure they themselves have good oral health. By following a good oral health routine of their own, parents and caregivers decrease the chances of passing on any bacteria to their children.
Please note- Toothbrushes are personal items and should not be shared with ANYONE.
Why bother looking after baby teeth since they will eventually fall out.
Baby teeth usually starts erupting by 6 months and by 2 1/2-3 years all 20 baby teeth would have appeared in the mouth. Teeth start to fall out around age 6 and the last of the baby teeth usually fall out around age 12 which means some baby teeth will be in the mouth for several years(10 years for some teeth!) so they need to be kept healthy.
The baby teeth are essential for chewing, learning to talk, correct pronunciation, and proper alignment of adult teeth.
To keep your child’s mouth healthy, avoid filling your infant’s baby bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks and don’t put him or her to bed with a bottle. If your child uses a pacifier, never dip it in honey or sugar. Try to stop bottle feeding by the age of 1.

Regular Dental check up

Don’t wait till there’s a problem before taking your child to see a dentist.
The times we live in are changing. Many of us grew up in Nigeria and never needed to go to the dentist. Why? Consumption of sweets, chocolates, cakes, juices, fizzy drinks and other sugary snacks were limited to special occasions, they were not everyday treats like they are now. Children these days are exposed to high caries risk diet and so they will need to be seen more regularly for dental check-ups.

About 17 years ago handheld mobile phones were relatively uncommon in Nigeria but over the years as their popularity has increased so has the need for mobile shops, accessories shops as well as technicians who will repair them should, things go wrong. In the same vein as fast food restaurants, eateries, cakes and desert shops have become very popular with the modern family and children’s parties have become sugar-fests for the younger generation, we need to imbibe the culture of regular visits to the dentist to check the health of our teeth and that of our children.

The ideal time for the first dental visit of a child as recommended by many professional dental organizations across the world is by the age of one year. My preference is as soon as their first milk teeth appear. The reasons are: your child’s dentist can give you the correct instructions on how to care for your child’s developing dentition and they will also be able to give preventative advice on common oral health problems.
Please note- The early teenage years is an age of vulnerability to decay and gum disease due to a lot of factors. Gingivitis intensifies during puberty which is a period of hormonal changes so please be involved as much as is possible in the oral hygiene of your teenagers as well.


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