Dental health in childhood
The primary denture is composed of the so-called milk teeth , which are 20, among which eight incisors, four canines and eight molars are distinguished. Although the milk teeth finally end up falling with the years to give way to the definitive dentition of the adult, the possible complications that can occur during this stage ( caries , bacteria, maxillary deformations, etc.) will have a definitive influence on oral health. of the child, so knowing how to care for teeth and gums during childhood is very important to prevent possible future affections .
According to the study Guidelines for oral health in the first years of life of the Spanish Society of Pediatric Dentistry (SEOP), dental caries is currently the most common chronic disease in childhood , with high prevalence among Spanish preschoolers. This pathology affects the general health of the child, causing intense pain, facial infections, and even decreased physical development and learning ability; In addition, this disease is infectious and transmissible. A child who has tooth decay in their baby teeth is very likely to carry these problems during adulthood.
Tooth decay and other problems
During early childhood it is necessary to avoid certain habits that constitute risk factors that increase the possibility of children developing cavities. The main causes of development of this disease during childhood are:
Deficit and incorrect habits in breastfeeding
Although breastfeeding has many nutritional and psychological advantages, the development of bad habits increases the risk of the child suffering oral complications, such as cavities. According to the study of the SEOP, the lack of breastfeeding or a short and insufficient period of it, can lead to dental and maxillary alterations .
On the other hand, from the appearance of the first teeth, it is not recommended that the child take breast milk during sleep. If the child falls asleep during a feeding, it must be interrupted or, in any case, the teeth washed after the intake, since during sleep the protective factors of the saliva are reduced.
Improper and excessively prolonged use of the bottle
As with breastfeeding, it is not advisable to continue with formula intake when the child falls asleep; If you continue giving the bottle, once you have finished taking your teeth should be washed. In addition, the bottle should be used only as a container for milk , so other liquids, such as juice and tea will be given in cups or other utensils. It is also not advisable in any case to add honey or sugar to the contents of the bottle.
From the first year of life, the child should gradually abandon the use of the bottle and begin to chew, so that when he reaches 18 months of age, he can discard it completely. The excessive use of the bottle beyond the recommended age favors the appearance of a child suction pattern, which can lead to atypical swallowing , a food variant caused by the break in the coordination of facial muscle movements that causes dentomaxillary malformations.
Use of the pacifier beyond the recommended age
The pacifier can be used, at most, until two years of age , although it is best to abandon this habit between 12 and 18 months of age. The alteration in the position of the tongue that carries this habit can bring complications that should be treated by a pediatric dentist.
Transmission of bacteria
Some habits on the part of mothers, fathers and caregivers favor the transmission of bacteria that can lead to the development of caries. It is advisable, during the first years of the child’s life, to try not to carry out certain habits to avoid the transmission of bacteria, such as: sharing toothbrushes, spoons and other utensils that the child normally carries to the mouth, blowing food or cleaning the pacifier with saliva.
In addition, according to the report of the SEOP, children whose mothers have high levels of bacteria during pregnancy have a higher risk of infection than the rest.
The development of caries during childhood is closely linked to the consumption of sugars and fermentable carbohydrates . It is advisable to avoid , to a certain extent, any source of refined sugars during the first two years of life, such as cookies, pastries, snacks or soft drinks. The recommendations of a healthy diet at the nutritional level coincide with those of a diet that favors oral health, for which it is necessary to reduce the consumption of sugars and encourage the intake of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.
The consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages between meals increases the demineralization of the organism and favors the development of caries.
Advice for proper oral hygiene
To prevent cavities and other possible conditions related to oral health, the best way is to establish good oral hygiene habits. In this sense, Madrid Health, the autonomous body of the City of Madrid that manages municipal policies on Public Health and Drug Addiction, has prepared the report on dental health advice in childhood , which, with the aim of keeping in good condition the oral health of children , establishes a series of recommendations by age:
From 6 to 12 months
- You should brush your child’s teeth daily with a soft brush without using toothpaste.
- You should not abuse the intake of juices and sugary drinks . The child can take this type of products occasionally and always in small quantities.
- In some cases the use of fluoride supplements is advisable , but you should consult your pediatrician before starting to use it.
- For gum pain , very common during this stage in which the first teeth appear, can be rubbed gently with a brush or gauze to relieve discomfort.
From 12 to 24 months
- Care must be taken to achieve an adequate brushing duration (two to three minutes).
- A small amount of toothpaste can be used after 18 months.
- It is advisable to start brushing the tongue and let the child learn to rinse and spit water.
3 to 5 years
- Children should brush their teeth at least twice a day and with adult supervision.
- We must establish healthy eating habits , avoiding, as much as possible, sweets and soft drinks.
- It is important to try to eliminate habits such as suction of the finger and the use of the pacifier, especially before the exit of the final teeth.
from 6 to 12 years old
- It is advisable to take the child to the dentist every 6 or 8 months to make revisions.
- You can start using dental floss from 12 years.
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