Dental Care for Children and Adolescents 1

Dental Care for Children and Adolescents

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, children across the country miss approximately fifty-two million hours of school each year as a result of oral health issues–issues that could likely be prevented through proper oral hygiene and dental care. Good oral health is not something that can be achieved or maintained on a part-time basis; nor is it something that can be achieved or maintained only after a certain amount of time has passed in the individual’s life. In fact, the more one works to establish proper oral hygiene habits and dental care from an early age, the easier it will be to maintain these habits and this care into early adulthood and for the rest of one’s life–and reap the many benefits afforded in doing so.

Starting Dental Care Early

Providing dental care to children and adolescents can not only ensure that they understand the importance of good oral hygiene and begin to establish the necessary habits to protect their oral health, it can work to keep their primary teeth healthy and free from decay and other painful or uncomfortable conditions. In infancy and even before teeth erupt into the mouth, parents can wipe down their child’s gums with gauze or a soft, wet washcloth to help gently stimulate gum tissue and remove food particles that have been left behind. As teeth begin to erupt, parents can help to keep them clean by using a small, soft toothbrush designed specifically for babies.

It is highly beneficial for a child’s dental care to begin when they are between one to two years of age. The dentist’s job during a child’s first dental visit should not be so much about performing a professional tooth cleaning, but rather about establishing a friendly relationship with the child. This helps the child to feel comfortable with seeing the dentist, and can be an opportunity to introduce to them some of the tools used in dentistry. Pediatric dentists will often ask the child whether they can “count” their teeth, during which time they will also take the opportunity to examine the child’s teeth and gums.

As a child indicates that he is ready to handle more dental care, the dentist will begin to perform cleanings that help to remove any plaque buildup or food debris that is stuck on or in his teeth. This will help to prevent bacteria overgrowth that can lead to decay, gum inflammation and other issues. The child’s comfort level is obviously very important, which means that if extensive care is required in order to address any specific issues, the dentist may request that the parent return with the child for several small, short visits, rather than having the child sit through one long, uncomfortable visit. Obviously, regular visits to the dentist can help greatly in reducing the chance that the child will encounter any extensive oral health issues.

Tips for Home

In addition to providing valuable dental care, pediatric dentists can provide parents with expert tips regarding how to best take care of their child’s teeth at home. These tips normally include information about how one can best brush and floss their child’s teeth, as well as any specific information related to their child’s oral health condition. They may also include tips regarding how a child’s eating habits can affect their oral health, why it is best to avoid those foods that are high in sugar or starch, and why a child should not fall asleep while nursing or drinking milk or juice from a bottle.

A child’s primary teeth may be temporary, but they are nonetheless very important. Establishing good oral hygiene at an early age, with proper dental care, can help to ensure that a child will not only maintain healthy primary teeth, but will also establish good oral health that they can maintain long into the future with their adult teeth.


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