Y Magazine

Tiny Teeth

Implementing good dental practices from a young age sets children up for a lifetime of smiles. Y gives you the lowdown on what to watch out for in your child’s teeth



You may wonder whether it’s important to take care of your child’s first teeth, which will fall out in early childhood. However, healthy adult teeth start with healthy teeth during childhood. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help to protect their teeth for decades to come.

A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaw at birth. Baby teeth begin coming through the gums at around six months old and help set the stage for future smiles by keeping space in the jaw for adult teeth. Dr Saritha Venkat, a specialist prosthodontist at International Business Hut, Dental Wing, in Mawalah, says baby teeth are important. “They aid in chewing, talking and, most importantly, they guide and provide space for permanent teeth to erupt precisely. Therefore, baby teeth have to be properly taken care of and restored.”

Dr Venkat also recommends that parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday. “Parents should take the child to the dentist as early as when the first tooth erupts in the mouth. This will gradually build the rapport between the parent, dentist and child in order to maximise progress.”

To help ensure you are well prepared to provide your little ones a lifetime of good dental health, the experts at Ameritas Life Insurance Company offer this information about the leading oral health concerns for youngsters:

Cavities

Early childhood caries (cavities) is the number one chronic disease affecting young children. It is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Tooth pain keeps many children home from school or distracts them from learning.

Sports Injuries

Gum shields can help protect children from a dental emergency. They should be worn whenever children participate in sports and recreational activities. Gum shields cushion blows that can otherwise cause broken teeth, injuries to the lips and face and even jaw fractures. Gum shields are available at many sports stores or may be custom-made by a dentist.

Jaw and bite problems

Malocclusion, or bad bite, is a condition in which the teeth are crowded, crooked, out of alignment or the jaws don’t meet properly. This may become particularly noticeable between the ages of six and 12, when a child’s permanent teeth are developing.

If not treated early, a bad bite can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean where teeth are crooked or crowded, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. Bad bites can also affect proper jaw development, increasing the risk of chips and fractures in protruding teeth. It can also affect eating and speaking, and make some teeth more likely to wear abnormally or faster than those that are properly aligned.

“Good oral hygiene practice begins at home with parental guidance,” says Dr Venkat. “Brushing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste is imperative and it is advised to visit the dentist every six months to discuss preventative approaches and possible treatment needs.” Remember, displaying good oral hygiene habits yourself not only reinforces your advice, it improves your own dental health, too.

For more information on children’s dental health, visit the dental section at www.ameritasinsight.com