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Breast Feeding tips:
Mother’s milk is very important to the baby’s teeth formation because it is a good source of calcium which makes teeth strong and healthy, and for boosting the immune system.
The first 6 months are most critical period for the baby to breast feed from the mother.
All mothers are advised to speak with their maternal physicians for the necessary information about breast feeding.
When babies fall asleep with a bottle some milk stays in their mouth and on the teeth. This can cause tooth decay.
Once your baby has finished feeding remove the baby from the bottle, and if they insisted on keeping the bottle in their mouth, just put some water instead of milk in the bottle, this will help cleaning the remains of the milk, thus decreasing risk for decay.
Between 6 and 12 months your baby can move from drinking from a bottle to a cup.
Toddlers (1–3 years old) should only drink from a cup.
Water should be the main drink and toddlers should drink tap water throughout the day. In addition to this, plain cow’s milk is a healthy drink choice for children over 12 months.
For babies under 12 months, tap water should be boiled and cooled before drinking.
Most of tap water supply has fluoride in it. Fluoride protects teeth from decay.
Children can begin to eat solid foods from around 6 months of age.
From 12 months of age children should be enjoying a wide variety of healthy foods similar to the rest of the family.
Children learn about eating food from watching their parents and other family members.
Many common foods and snacks have sugar in them. Eating foods with high levels of sugar causes tooth decay.
You can start cleaning your baby’s teeth by wiping with a soft cloth or brushing with a small soft toothbrush and water.
At 18 months start using a pea sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth. Encourage your child to spit out toothpaste after brushing.
Clean all surfaces of the teeth and gums twice a day (after breakfast and before bed).
Children will need an adult to help them brush their teeth until about 7 or 8 years of age.
By the age of 2years, the first dental checkup should be provided by a Dentist or other Oral Health Professional.
Having regular check-ups can help to spot problems early. Early stages of tooth decay can be treated
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Brushing teeth removes plaque (the build-up on teeth) that causes tooth decay.
Brush all surfaces of the teeth and gums twice a day (after breakfast and before bed).
Gently brush in small circles along the gum line.
Choose a toothbrush that is designed for children. It should have a small head and soft bristles.
Children will need an adult to help them brush their teeth until about 7 or 8 years of age. Let your child have a go first before you brush their teeth. Give lots of encouragement.
Use a small pea-size amount of toothpaste.
Encourage children to spit out toothpaste, do not swallow it or rinse with water. Not rinsing keeps a small amount of fluoride in the mouth which protects teeth.
Spitting out can be difficult for small children. You may need to show them how to do it.
Limit foods high in added sugars. Eating foods with high levels of sugar causes tooth decay.
Avoid using foods as incentives or rewards for good behavior.
Engorge your children to brush directly after eating food with high sugar contents.
Enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods every day including fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy, lean meat, fish and eggs.
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of healthy eating.
Milk, yoghurt and cheese (and some dairy alternatives) are excellent sources of calcium, which is good for teeth.
Choose dairy products that do not have added sugar.
Role model healthy eating as children learn about food by watching their parents and other family members.
If your child knocks out a baby tooth, do not put it back in place. This can damage the adult tooth underneath the gum. If concerned see your dentist.
Always seek immediate advice from your dentist if an adult tooth is knocked out or damaged.
Normally at this age, children will gradually replace all their primary teeth with permanent ones, it’s advised to seek orthodontist checkup to insure that the teething process is going normal, and that your child won’t need any treatments.
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- If you are a teenager, you need to protect your mouth and teeth by maintaining good oral health. Although regular brushing and flossing are important, the oral health of those in this age group is also often associated with risk factors such as high sugary diet & Smoking.
- When you consume food and drinks that are sugary or starchy (high in carbohydrates), the bacteria that naturally live in your mouth and in plaque, break down to form acids. These acids attack and dissolve the outer surface of the tooth (enamel). This process is known as demineralisation.
- The first sign of demineralisation is a chalky white spot. At this stage, the decay process can be reversed. If you suspect you have the start of tooth decay, make an appointment to see your dentist.
- Preventing tooth decay with healthy eating: Limit sugars and processed foods to mealtimes (rather than between meals).
- Choose snacks such as cheese, natural yoghurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, dry biscuits, nuts and wholegrain bread.
- Preventing tooth decay with healthy drinking: Choose water (particularly tap water) and plain milk both with and between meals.
- Limit soft drinks, sports drinks, juice, flavoured water and other carbonated drinks as they can cause decay and dissolve the tooth enamel.
- Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow and help protect teeth from decay.
- Preventing tooth decay with good teeth cleaning: Maintain good oral hygiene. Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush that has small, compact head and soft bristles. When the bristles appear ‘shaggy’ it is time to change toothbrushes.
- Flossing once a day is recommended. There may be some bleeding at first but this should subside after a few days if tooth cleaning is thorough. If bleeding persists, seek advice from a dentist or other oral health professional.
- Sealants: A dental sealant is a tooth-coloured plastic film that is professionally applied to the deep grooves (fissures) on the back teeth (molars) where tooth decay most often starts.
A good time to apply sealants is soon after permanent teeth are fully erupted (after 13 years of age). Discuss with an oral health professional whether this will be beneficial to you.
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Thumb sucking habit make up the majority of oral habits. However two thirds of children who engage in thumb sucking outgrow them by age five. The dentofacial changes will vary with the intensity, duration and frequency of the habit and the position of the digit in the mouth. The dentofacial changes include:
- Anterior open bite
- Facial movement of the maxillary incisors
- Lingual movement of the mandibular incisors
- Maxillary constriction
The earlier the habit is discontinued the greater the likelihood of dentofacial changes self-correcting. However, the child should be allowed to stop the habit spontaneously. Most habits stop in school due to peer pressure so definitive treatment is not initiated until ages 4-6 years. If the child or the parent does not want to discontinue the habit do not force the issue. The type of treatment prescribed is dependent on the child’s willingness of the child to stop the habit.
The simplest treatment is counseling the patient. The success of this approach is dependant on the child’s ability to understand the consequences of continuing the habit. This approach is most successful in older children. A second approach is reminder therapy. This is effective in a child who wants to stop the habit but needs additional help. The technique involves placing a cue on the patient’s finger as a reminder not to place their finger in the mouth, especially while sleeping. The cues may be a bandage, a sock or mitten, a bitter substance or a commercially bought appliance. It is important to emphasize to the child that the treatment mechanism is not a punishment but just a reminder.
If the habit persists after the reminder therapy and the child truly wants to discontinue the habit then intraoral appliance therapy should be considered. The intention of placement of intraoral appliance is to discourage the habit by making it difficult to suck the thumb or finger.
Severe lip licking, with the lower lip tucked behind the maxillary incisors, places excessive lingually directed forces on the mandibular teeth and facial forces on the maxillary teeth, resulting in retro-inclination of the mandibular incisors, proclination of the maxillary incisors and increased overjet.
Treatment of such habit is very similar to thumb sucking.
Bruxism is the nonfunctional grinding or gnashing of teeth. It occurs most often during sleep, however some children grind their teeth when awake. It results in wear of teeth and can cause masticatory muscle soreness and TMJ pain. Local factors include occlusal interferences or high restorations. Systemic factors include stress, personality disorders, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, endocrine disorders, musculoskeletal disorders and mental retardation. Most children outgrow the habit and treatment is unnecessary.
For those that do not, treatment consists of:
- Equilibration of the occlusal interferences
- Referral to medical personnel to rule out systemic or psychological problems
- Fabrication of a night grinding appliance