Pediatric oral care is of great concern for healthcare providers because early childhood caries (ECC) is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases. It can be easily transmitted from parents to children, and even newborns are prone to this infection. For this reason, children need early dental care. However, ECC can be prevented in young children with early interventions. This paper aims to observe the importance of pediatric oral care and possible outcomes if not followed.
The Importance of Oral Hygiene in Children
The proper care for teeth and oral cavity is one of the most important habits that should be developed in early childhood. Pediatric oral care starts during mother’s pregnancy that depends on the supplement of nutrients during child’s intrauterine development. Furthermore, drugs that a mother can use during her pregnancy can affect the state of dental tissues of the baby. It happens because some drugs have side effects, causing a direct damaging influence on teeth rudiments. A significant impact on the condition of teeth in a child plays his or her nutrition. Children, who receive breast milk, are usually perfectly supplied with vitamins and minerals. After six months, mothers should be careful with complementary foods, controlling their quality and nature. For example, candies may have a direct damaging effect on the enamel of primary teeth.
Once a child turns a year, oral care becomes an everyday activity. It starts from the acquisition of the first toothbrush. Parents should start teaching their child cleaning his or her teeth on his or her own at the age of 2-3 years (Fox, 2013). It can be done in the form of playing that helps a child to memorize the sequence of actions when performing the hygiene procedure. The duration of tooth brushing should not be less than three minutes. An essential component of pediatric oral care is a regular visit to the dentist, who can inspect and perform therapeutic and prophylactic treatment. The literature reveals that in the preschool period, the nature of food intake acquires special importance. Therefore, parents should understand that all kinds of snacks, chips, and lollipops are the most faithful collaborators of caries. The same applies to soft drinks. On the contrary, they should teach their children what food can promote their health. Moreover, children should learn how to rinse the mouth after every meal. According to Ramos-Gomez (2014), they should rinse the mouth with warm water boiled for one minute.
Ways to Promote Early Recurring Dental Care
Doctors recommend children to be examined by a dentist once in six months after the eruption of the first tooth (Blevins, 2013). However, many parents remain unaware of this rule. In 2003, the American Dental Association encouraged U.S. dentists to maintain free dental care for children based on the program “Give Kids a Smile” (Fox, 2013). Unfortunately, despite the latter, small amounts of parents and caregivers follow the rule of consistent dental care for their children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests the establishment of the dental home that can improve pediatric oral health through management models and disease prevention (Ramos-Gomez, 2014). It is based on scheduled visits, where providers conduct a dental exam that includes the following steps: caries risk observation, tooth-brushing prophylaxis, clinical exam, counseling, and fluoride varnish treatment.
The examiner understands that the most critical step is a clinical exam of caries. Therefore, he or she should establish a close rapport with a child, making a treatment plan. To make it less stressful for a child, a dentist should ensure that he or she is comfortable and secure. In young children, a knee-to-knee position is the most acceptable. Moreover, it allows parents to hold child’s hands and observe his/her teeth. In order to distract the child, a doctor may use a game, singing songs or something similar. An examiner must also praise the child for his or her cooperation. Regular visits to a dental office may prevent the development of oral diseases.
Health Effects of Poor Dental Hygiene
Many studies suggest that poor dental hygiene cannot only lead to teeth decay but also to problems in the entire body because the mouth is a direct path to it (Blevins, 2013). Bacteria that originate because of bad oral care may be transmitted to different organs and affect them. Therefore, it is recommended to brush and floss teeth at least two times a day. The disregard of oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Many studies report that caries is a result of food rotting on the teeth (Fox, 2013). Bacteria that appear after digested products turn them into acids that form plaque. Acid in dental plaque corrodes enamel that creates holes. If a child does not undergo dental examinations ones in six months and remains untreated, cavity results in caries and tooth loss. Moreover, poor dental hygiene is displayed in tooth pain, as well as sensitivity when drinking or eating sweet, cold or hot drinks. The next sign of poor oral hygiene is bad breath. Skipping brushing and flossing allows particles of food to remain in the mouth and contribute to the growth of bacteria. A failure to brush teeth and visit a doctor regularly may lead to tooth decay and the development of parodontosis in the future.
In order to keep children’s teeth healthy, parents and caregivers should know the main rules of pediatric oral care. It is important to impart skills of dental hygiene to children at an early age. Protecting teeth from caries, they can prevent various diseases that seem to be independent from bacteria that originate on the teeth. Therefore, adults should understand the importance of pediatric oral care and possible outcomes if not followed
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