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The Role of Parents in Children's Dental Care


by Jane Grant

Photo by Kazuend on Unsplash

20 percent of children aged between five and 11 have dental caries, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Also known as cavities or tooth decay, dental caries is the most prevalent childhood condition, five times more common than childhood asthma and twenty times more common than diabetes. Unfortunately, there is just one of the many childhood dental issues that parents have to worry about; crossbite, protruding upper teeth, gum disease and canker sores are other common dental problems that may affect young children.

As a parent, you want to do all you can to help your child lay a good foundation for healthy permanent teeth by following proper dental care practices from the moment the first tooth appears. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to prevent dental issues that cause pain or affect the appearance of your child's teeth.

Start Orthodontic treatment early

If you suspect that your child needs orthodontic treatment, your best bet is to take them to an orthodontist when they're between seven and nine years old. An orthodontist can intercept some dental problems and solve some issues easier and quicker when the patient is still a child. Some of the signs that your child needs early orthodontic treatment include crossbite, protruding teeth or impacted teeth. Treating children before their jaws and palates have stopped growing has many benefits. For example, if overcrowding is an issue, an orthodontist can install an expander plate to make the child's jaw bigger so that there's enough room for all the teeth.

This option disappears once the palate fuses, and you can then only correct major jaw problems through surgery or tooth removal. Early treatment is also ideal since that's when your child's peers with dental problems are also seeking treatment, so it will be much easier for them. Your orthodontist can also teach you how to prevent other dental problems like tooth loss, gingivitis and tooth decay by introducing and reinforcing important habits and treatments for preventing such problems.

Leading by example

Children learn most things by watching how their parents do them. As such, you should teach your children how to take care of their dental health by following proper dental care practices yourself. Start by teaching your children how to properly brush their teeth: show them the amount of toothpaste to use, the correct brushing techniques, and the number of times they need to do it, which ideally should be twice per day. If your child is reluctant to keep up with brushing, you can try giving them ownership of their dental care by allowing them to choose their own toothbrush, rinse cup and toothpaste.

You can also turn brushing into a fun game with prizes included after a proper brushing or flossing session. Another important thing is to limit your child's access to candy, juices and other sugary foods that can cause cavities. If your child eats these foods, have them brush his teeth immediately after.

As a parent, you play a vital role in the dental health of your child. By working with a dental care specialist and leading by example, you can ensure that your children have optimal dental health, not only when they're young, but also when they become adults.

This article was written by Jane Grant who is a freelance writer. We thank her for her work.