IMPORTANCE OF CHILDHOOD ORAL HYGIENE & THE ROLE OF PARENTS

Parents are a child’s first teacher in life and play a significant role in maintaining his or her overall oral hygiene. The foundation for healthy permanent teeth in children and teenagers is laid during the first years of life. Parents, as consistent role models, are important for setting a daily routine and to making their children understand the importance of oral hygiene.

Colgate helps you establish a proper oral hygiene routine early in life to help ensure the development of strong and healthy teeth of your children.

Importance of the primary dentition

Primary teeth start to erupt in children from the age of six months. The primary dentition is complete by approximately two and a half years of age. The enamel of primary teeth is less densely mineralized than the enamel of permanent teeth, making them particularly susceptible to caries. Primary teeth are essential tools; they help to break up food into small pieces thereby ensuring efficient digestion. Primary teeth also play a vital role in the proper alignment and spacing of permanent teeth. Establishing a proper oral care routine early on in life sets the foundation for the development of healthy and strong permanent teeth. In addition to good oral hygiene, diet also plays a key role in keeping teeth healthy.  As much as possible, children should be limited in the amount of sweets between meals, especially in the evening or at night.

New permanent teeth

Although permanent teeth are already partly formed in children aged 0 to 3 years, eruption only occurs later in life when the 32 permanent teeth replace the 20 primary teeth. With the eruption of the first permanent teeth, the mouth contains a mixture of both primary and permanent teeth, which puts children at increased risk of caries. Often the eruption of this permanent tooth is realized neither by the child nor by the parents, because it is positioned behind the last primary molar and is not replacing any primary tooth. Furthermore, any primary teeth with caries form reservoirs of germs, which can easily attack the immature enamel of the new permanent teeth. During the eruption, the occlusal surfaces of the new permanent teeth are on a lower level than the primary teeth. Brushing teeth becomes more difficult than before and the jaw is also growing significantly, making space for more teeth.

Role of Parents

With all of the challenges that new parents face, they may not think much about the link between their child’s oral health and overall health. Parents have a key role in helping their children to develop a proper oral hygiene routine in the first years of their life. Parents should lead and supervise their children’s tooth-brushing approximately for the first 12 years, until motor and mental functions allow the child to routinely perform a proper tooth-brushing technique alone. At the age of around 6 years, children are able to brush their teeth using a proper brushing technique. In this phase, parents have to continue supervising the regular brushing efforts of their children.

As soon as the first primary teeth erupt into the oral cavity, parents should begin brushing their children’s teeth. From the age of two years, teeth should be brushed twice daily with smaller than a pea-size amount of children’s toothpaste as they tend to swallow a large amount of toothpaste, so that there is a risk of developing dental fluorosis. Beginning with the eruption of the new permanent teeth, children should be switched from a low fluoride containing children’s toothpaste to a higher fluoride containing toothpaste. This ensures the best caries protection as possible for their new permanent teeth.

The best way to keep a check on your child’s oral hygiene is to maintain yours. They learn from what they see. Tell them about the small things like the correct brushing technique, right kind of foods to avoid tooth decay etc. Remember, taking care of their oral health will result in their well-being.

For more on oral care, keep reading.

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