Children’s Dental Hygiene

Children’s dental hygiene is a concern from the moment a child’s first teeth come in, but treatment doesn’t necessarily start right away. Says Cindy, dental hygienist at My Scottsdale Dentist, It’s more monitoring and education than strictly treatment until they are about a year old, usually. We don’t want to leave a bad impression with kids.

Some kids open right up, said Cindy of kids willingness to begin hygienic maintenance. Other kids, we don’t push into it. We are more concerned with making them comfortable than getting them in the chair right away.

Early maintenance is important, however: without proper care, children’s teeth can become infected or abscessed, causing intense pain. Some primary molars, located near the back of the mouth, aren’t replaced until ages 10 to 14. Those teeth have to last until they are naturally replaced — losing them early due to neglect or poor hygiene can cause problems that extend beyond a child’s chompers later in life.

Steven H. Poulos, doctor at My Scottsdale Dentist in Scottsdale, AZ, is familiar with some of those problems — and they are not always strictly physical. Lack of proper dental hygiene can lead to bad breath, which lowers a child’s self-confidence during an important time in the development of their social skills, said Dr. Poulos.

Many bad habits are also unrelated to brushing and flossing, warned Steven Poulos DDS. Digit sucking and protracted pacifier use can lead to palate complications and a malformed bite.

There are a few distinct aspects that separate kids dentistry from adults. Length of appointments, types of treatment and their frequency make every visit unique — just like the smiles that they are meant to keep healthy.

We usually to concentrate more on education with kids than adults, though we try to educate anyone who comes in about how to brush properly, about eating good foods, et cetera, said Poulos. Kids also always get fluoride treatment, where an adult might only receive it based on their history of cavities.

Another facet of kids dental care is one that’s widely feared by most: braces. Not all kids need or get them — Dr. Poulos said that the need is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by around age six — and their necessity can be dictated by a few factors like genetics and certain puerile habits. That digit-sucking Steven Poulos mentioned? It forces the teeth into an unnatural shape and can lead to a misshapen bite and teeth that don’t come in as they should.

At that point, braces might be the best bet at wrangling in the displaced rogue teeth.

Kids have heard from their parents — and parents, from their dentists — that candy, sugary drinks like soda and even pacifiers can cause dental issues down the road. But there are a couple of less-obvious practices that even parents might not suspect for the degradation of their child’s dental health.

Poulos’s chosen culprit? Sports drinks in older kids, Doc said, âcan be as bad for the teeth as any soda. Another dentally-dangerous habit, according to Dr. Poulos, is putting kids to sleep with bottled milk as opposed to water due to the concentration of sugar in the former. Everyone notices a nice smile, just like how everyone notices a bad one. There are many principles and practices that can help ensure the health of a child’s smile, but the most important tenet is education. Parents know that children can be obstinate about avoiding bad foods, limiting sugary drinks and actually brushing their teeth twice a day, but a pea-sized lesson every day can save you and your kid time, money and grief down the road.

Kids have age on their side, said Dr. Stevens. There’s time for them to begin practicing healthy habits that adults don’t have. That gives them all the more reason to pay attention and start developing those healthy habits early.

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