UNESCO has chosen January 24 to celebrate International Education Day. In addition to basic learning, it is important to educate the very young about hygiene and disease prevention. As such, children's oral health plays an important role in their well-being. In this article, we share some knowledge they can draw on throughout their lives.
A healthy mouth from an early age
Keeping the whole mouth in good health is essential. In fact, the oral cavity, with its teeth, gums, tongue and jaws, performs a number of physical functions that are indispensable to daily life: chewing, drinking, speaking and so on. Display a beautiful smile promotes self-esteem and facilitates good relations with others. Good oral health is therefore crucial to children's development and well-being from an early age.
Brushing babies' teeth
Brushing begins as soon as the first teeth appear, generally between 9 and 12 months. Even if baby teeth fall out, it's essential to brush them well to prevent cavities. Keeping them healthy will enable permanent teeth to grow in the right position. Use a compress soaked in toothpaste-free water to clean your baby's teeth daily. The first visit to the dentist should take place at one year of age.
Brushing children's teeth
From the age of 2 or 3, you can start teaching your little one to brush his or her teeth, always under adult supervision.
By the age of 6 or 7, children should be able to brush their own teeth. This is part of the evening ritual before bedtime.
As a teenager, your child may forget to brush his or her teeth. Don't hesitate to remind them and explain the importance of this essential oral hygiene gesture. The good habits acquired in childhood and reinforced in adolescence will serve them well throughout their lives.
Here are the official recommendations for parents from dentists in Switzerland:
- Brush children's teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes each time.
- Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles that slip more easily into the interdental spaces and don't damage the gums. It's best to choose a model with a small head to reach every nook and cranny of the mouth.
- Replace your child's toothbrush every 3 months, or sooner if the bristles become deformed.
- Use age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride protects teeth against cavities by preserving enamel from acid attack.
Preventing oral disease in children
Oral diseases come in many forms, including in children. The most common is tooth decay, but periodontal disease can also occur in adolescents. They affect the tissues that support the teeth.
If your child is at high risk of developing cavities, the dentist can perform preventive treatments such as groove sealing and the application of fluorinated varnish.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. So don't neglect your child's annual dental appointments. He or she will be able to detect any dental problems or abnormalities at an early stage and treat them promptly. The same applies to your child'sorthodontics for children if your little one's teeth are misaligned.
The role of diet in children's oral health
Children have a heightened sensitivity to sugar. And there are many temptations in their daily lives: sweets, cakes, cereal bars, sodas, juices and other treats with a sticky or melting texture... All these sources of carbohydrates encourage the development of cavity-causing bacteria.
In simple terms, you can explain to your child that the sweet foods they eat feed the bad bacteria in their mouth. These then produce acids that attack their teeth. You can advise them to drink water after nibbling to rinse away the residue.
3 tips to remember for your children
- Brush twice a day, for two minutes.
- Limit consumption of sugary foods and drinks, especially in the evening.
- Consult a dentist every year, from the age of one.
The HELVIDENT team of dentists welcomes you to its three dental clinics in Lausanne, Fribourg and Aigle. Don't hesitate to ask them for advice on teaching your children oral hygiene. Contact us to book an appointment.