Typically, we chide our children. This time we will chide adults. Why? Well, when we, adults, are negligent and indifferent, our children suffer. Their teeth suffer too. A paediatric dentist Geda Mažeikienė from dental clinic Skraidenta consults us.
The 1st mistake. Parents wait until all teeth of the child will sprout, and then clean them.
Brushing children’s teeth
I always try to emphasize that parents should begin to take care of the child’s teeth when they have not started to sprout. Before sprouting of the first tooth, the child has lots of saliva running, he puts everything into his mouth, he likes to bite and chew. Parents should massage gums with a clean cloth or a special tooth thimble. Besides, it helps to the baby form a habit of cleaning his teeth. In other words, you kill two birds with one stone.
It is necessary to clean the first teeth. Of course, not as we imagine, using a lot of paste and brush. We need just thimbles or gauze. The child will quickly get used to it and it will become a necessary ritual before going to bed. If you start to clean the teeth only to a two-year-old child, he may not like it very much.
The 2nd mistake. Parents purchase the wrong toothpaste or they have no interest in what is written on the label.
It is said that one year-old child needs to be taken to the dentist for preventive care. At the same time, you can consult about toothpaste. Toothpaste is not necessary to the child is until he is one-year-old and it is enough to clean teeth plaque without toothpaste. Later, you can buy toothpaste for the child. It performs many functions such as cleaning teeth; refreshing the mouth; it contains substances that are necessary to the child.
Toothpaste for babies should be with fluoride. It is necessary for the first teeth. Fluoride helps tooth enamel to become stronger and resistant to acids, and may even stop tooth decay that has begun.
Children, whose teeth are healthy and well cared for, need toothpaste with less fluorine or even without it (such are ecologic toothpastes). However, sometimes one and a half or two-year-old child has tooth decay, so toothpaste with more fluoride can be prescribed for the treatment. Also, let’s not forget that drinking water in the western part of Lithuania contains more fluoride than elsewhere. There is no magic toothpaste so it is healthy to change them, and the dentist will tell which toothpaste is the best for you child.
Parents usually worry about the consequences if the child swallows toothpaste with fluoride. If the child eats toothpaste like jam, it will be bad, but if he swallows a very small amount while brushing his teeth, nothing bad will happen. Toothpaste is for cleaning, not eating.
Children from the age of 7 can use the same toothpaste as adults.
The 3rd mistake. Parents descend to the child’s whims: “He does not allow me to clean his teeth!”
Then we ask patents: “If he does not let you clean his teeth, how will he let us treat them?” It is easier to clean teeth than to treat them. Do we always ask children if they want to wash their hair, cut their nails, clean their buttocks or change diapers?
Every time when we let our child to go to bed without cleaning his teeth, we are doing harm to him. Parents should ask themselves, if they wish good or bad for their children. If they wish their child bad, then, they can allow their children not clean teeth. Yes, there are people, who do not take care of their teeth and they do not deteriorate. Though such people are units. Usually if we create conditions for teeth decay, they deteriorate. The smaller the child who has bad teeth, the more difficult to treat them.
Nothing will happen to the child if he will cry for few minutes, while his mother cleans his teeth. When he sees that his parents still cleans the teeth disregarding, whether he wants it or not, one day he will cease to resist. Some parents say: “The child refuses to brush teeth, resists, does not want to”, there is not a child’s problem, it is parents’ problem.
The 4th mistake. No snacks after teeth cleaning.
It often happens that a child, whose teeth were cleaned, and who was laid to sleep, wants to eat. Parents do not argue. Often children do not want to eat, but they are only trying to postpone the time of sleep. If they eat or drink juice, tea, you need to clean the teeth again. At night the sleeping child almost does not pass the saliva, so his mouth becomes excellent medium to teeth decay.
Dentists recommend that after cleaning his teeth, one year old child should go to sleep without eating anything and would not eat anything at night. This also applies to babies, who feed on their mother’s milk.
The 5th mistake. Parents do not supervise children when they clean teeth.
Children are unable to take care of their teeth up to seven years and sometimes even longer. The research has shown that as long as a child cannot learn how to write well, he is not able to clean teeth well.
Three or four year old will only brush a bit but will not clean his teeth properly. We must not forbid them to clean their teeth by themselves if they want to. Let them “clean” but parents should find a way to take the toothbrush and clean their child’s teeth properly.
The experience shows, that parents clean their three and four year old child’s teeth but they consider their five and six year old children big enough to clean teeth on their own. What happens then? At the age of 5-7, first permanent (so called sixth) teeth sprout. These teeth are very vulnerable as their surface is not well mineralized yet. If no one cleans this plaque, it takes only few weeks to teeth to decay. When no one controls, how the child cleans his teeth, toothbrush does not even reach those sixth molars. It is really sad when a child is brought for covering his teeth with sealants and we see that his teeth have caries and need to be treated instead. The longer parents help their children clean their teeth, the better.
The 6th mistake. Parents bring their children when their teeth start to ache or a hole and do not take for prophylaxis.
It is recommended to visit a dentist for prevention roughly twice a year. Even if teeth are healthy and well cared for, it is important for the child to know that his work (to brush his teeth every day) brings results. After all it is fun to be praised and to make friends with the doctor. In the future, if you need to treat such children, they will be more agreeable. It happens that a child is brought to the dentist regularly, has his teeth repaired and he suddenly “disappears” for the period of three years. A lot of “holes” form during that time.
The worst thing that can happen when a child comes to the doctor for the first time with a sore tooth is that he is doomed to unpleasant experiences.
Sometimes mothers worry that one year old will not open his mouth and will not show his teeth to the dentist. This inspection of babies of this age takes really short; there is no need to stay with open mouth for half an hour. Usually an agreement is reached and the child is inspected. The first visits to children are cognitive, but even more they are necessary for parents in order not to make errors that can be avoided.
Another problem is that by going to the clinic with a tiny baby parents do not get enough information. One mother told that she was asked: “Why do you worry so much?” It is sad to hear such words from the doctors. I suggest that you choose dentists working with the smallest children, there are lots of them all over Lithuania.
- Clean your teeth no shorter than 3 minutes paying attention to the quality of cleaning rather than on the theoretical duration.
- Show the example. Your child should not have the reason to tell the dentist: “My father does not brush his teeth…”
- Children like repeating the rituals and daily regime. Knowing what comes next, they feel safer. Try to make cleaning teeth in the morning and in the evening a habit from the childhood.