After the excitement of the back-to-school season is the chance to establish new and healthy household routines. Amidst the busyness of life we often forget to prioritize dental hygiene. We are here to remind you of the importance of your children’s’ dental health and how to think more acutely about their care.
The results of a national survey on children’s dental and oral health (2007-2009) show that 57% of children between 6 and 11 year old have or had a cavity, 59% of teenagers aged 12 to 19 have or had a cavity, and that the average number of teeth affected by cavities in children age 6 to 19 is 2.5. A regional survey of Montreal from the Agence de Santé et des Services Sociaux (2012-2013) shows that 29.2% of children age 4 have a high risk of suffering from cavities, and 20.5% show an obvious need of dental treatment.
Recent studies demonstrate that children who have poor dental health are at higher risk of suffering from painful dental conditions. This can impact their classroom focus resulting in poor academic performance, affect their nutrition, and sometimes can lead to delayed or stunted growth. It is clear that the importance of oral and dental health is not limited to the mouth. It also bears repercussions on the general well-being of the child at the functional, psychological and social levels, but also on academic development!
Luckily all of this can be avoided. Helping our children develop good dental health from an early age is essential to their overall development, educational experience, and consequently their academic performance. It is important to teach proper daily routines for oral and dental care. Here are some tips to help parents:
1- First visit
It is recommended that your child has their first dentist appointment between 6 and 12 months. This is where parents learn preventive care personalized according to the particularities of their child. The aim of this visit is establish and maintain good oral and dental health throughout the child’s growth.
Begin cleaning the infant’s oral cavity at birth with a wet washcloth and upon the appearance of the first tooth begin tooth-brushing. Continue to brush your child’s teeth until he/she is 8 years old. At this point you can allow the child to slowly take over the task. Tooth brushing should be practiced at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush for 2 to 3 minutes in the morning and at night before bed. An electric toothbrush is more effective than a manual brush and fluorinated dental paste will further decrease the risk of cavities. When teeth begin to touch use dental floss in the evening before bed. This will prevent the accumulation of bacteria which is the source of cavities. For children with a high risk of cavities use a fluorinated, alcohol-free mouthwash for a heightened prevention.
3- Lunch box
Include healthy foods like cheese, yogurt (nature), fresh vegetables and fruits and avoid sticky foods. Avoid juices, sodas, and sport drinks because the acidity erodes teeth. Water is the best option to stay hydrated throughout the day. Teach your child to finish his/her meal with a piece of cheese to diminish the mouth’s acidity level.
If your child is an active sports player, remember to get them a mouth guard custom made to their dentition to avoid injury at the lips, cheeks, tongue, teeth and jaw, and ultimately concussion.
5- Visit your dentist
Prevention is better than cure! Follow your dentist’s recommendations for the frequency of follow-ups which will vary according to your child’s dental health.
6- Lead by example
If you adopt these healthy habits yourself, your children will follow in your steps much more easily.
We hope these tips will help you and wish you a great fall semester with your children!
Dr. François Lechner
Dr. Hélène Buithieu