The back-to-school period is the perfect opportunity to establish new and healthy household routines. Amidst the busyness of life, we often forget to prioritize dental hygiene. We are here to remind you of the importance of your children’s’ dental health and how to think more about their care.
The results of a national survey on children’s dental and oral health (2007-2009) show that 57% of children between 6 and 11 year old have or had a cavity. In addition, 59% of teenagers aged 12 to 19 have or had a cavity. The average number of teeth affected by cavities in children age 6 to 19 is 2.5. A regional survey of Montréal from the Agence de Santé et des Services Sociaux (2012-2013) shows that 29.2% of children age 4 have a high risk of suffering from cavities. Moreover, 20.5% show an obvious need of dental treatment.
Recent studies demonstrate that children who have poor dental health are at a higher risk of suffering from painful dental conditions. This can impact their classroom focus, resulting in poor academic performance, affect their nutrition, and sometimes can lead to delayed or stunted growth. It is clear that the importance of oral and dental health is not limited to the mouth. It also has repercussions on the general well-being of your children at the functional, psychological and social levels—not to mention academic development!
Luckily, all of this can be avoided. Helping our children develop good dental health from an early age is essential to their overall development, educational experience, and consequently, their academic performance. It is important to teach proper daily routines for oral and dental care. Here are some tips to help parents:
1- First visit
It is recommended that your children have their first dentist appointments between the ages of 6 and 12 months. This is where parents learn preventive care tailored to their children. The goal of these visits is to establish and maintain good oral and dental health throughout their growth.
Begin cleaning the your children’s oral cavity at birth with a wet washcloth. Upon the appearance of the first tooth, begin tooth brushing. Continue to brush your children’s teeth until they are 8 years old. At this point, you can allow your children to slowly take over the task. Tooth brushing should be practiced at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush for 2 to 3 minutes in the morning and at night before bed. An electric toothbrush is more effective than a manual brush. Fluorinated tooth paste will further decrease the risk of cavities. When teeth begin to touch, use dental floss in the evening before bed. This will prevent the accumulation of bacteria, which is the source of cavities. For children with a high risk of cavities, use a fluorinated, alcohol-free mouthwash for heightened prevention.
3- Lunch boxes
Include healthy foods like cheese, yogurt (nature), fresh vegetables and fruits in your children’s lunch boxes. Avoid sticky foods, juices, sodas and sport drinks because the acidity erodes teeth. Water is the best option to stay hydrated throughout the day. Teach your children to finish their meals with a piece of cheese to diminish their mouths’ acidity levels.
If your children are active in sports, remember to get them mouth guards that are custom-made to their dentition to avoid lip, cheek, tongue, teeth and jaw injuries as well as concussions.
5- Visit your dentist
Prevention is better than a cure! Follow your dentist’s recommendations for the frequency of follow-ups, which will vary according to your children’s dental health.
6- Lead by example
If you adopt these healthy habits yourself, your children will follow in your footsteps much more easily. We hope these tips will help you! Have a great fall semester with your children!
Dr. François Lechner
Dr. Hélène Buithieu