Prevention and Interception; are the two cornerstones of paediatric dentistry. We all know what prevention is; interception is to stop a bad outcome from developing completely, with respect to dentistry it refers to measures your paediatric dentist can suggest to intercept habits like thumb sucking and mouth breathing which can have a detrimental (causing harm) effect on how your child’s jaws grow and therefore, by extension affect your child’s facial appearance. 

There have been several instances in paediatric dentistry where a child’s general health improves after treating dental caries. This is because oral cavity and tooth health are necessary for your child to be able to eat nutritious food and promote good overall growth. 

Dental caries, also known as tooth decay are damage to a tooth's surface or the enamel layer. It happens when bacteria in your mouth make acids that attack the enamel. Enamel is a hard white outer covering of a tooth that provides protection to the teeth. 

Since teeth and jaws are important for general health, should you not strive to prevent any diseases that can affect them? So let’s see how paediatric dentists, together with parents and caregivers can achieve this goal.

Prevention of Dental Caries

Very often you may ask your paediatric dentist about when and how to take care of your child’s teeth and oral hygiene. Your dentist may recommend the following tips to start prevention early.

  • Start brushing when you see the first tooth appear in your child’s mouth.

  • Visit a paediatric dentist around the time the child completes one year of age. 

  • Delay the introduction of external sugars/added sugars to your child’s food. 

Another key point your child’s dentist may recommend is brushing/cleaning teeth after the infant’s last feed. If not, give water at the end of the last feed so it clears the milk from the oral cavity. 

The good news is dental caries are completely preventable, provided all dental care measures are taken.

Transmision of Dental Caries

Dental caries are caused by bacteria and these bacteria are found in the plaque that is present on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. Bacteria in plaque produce acids after you eat or drink. 

These acids can destroy tooth enamel and cause caries (cavities) and gingivitis (gum disease). Plaque can also develop under the gums on tooth roots and break down the bones that support teeth. 

Babies acquire these bacteria from their mother’s mouth due to close interaction, kissing, or using the same spoon. Once your child acquires these bacteria, they grow and proliferate on the teeth. Therefore, it is important to brush these bacteria out every day. 

To prevent transmission of bacteria, use a different set of utensils for your child. If another sibling has dental caries, get appropriate dental treatment and avoid using the same items for both of them. 

Dental caries is a multifactorial disease, that is, cavities develop due to many different factors. 

Importance of Diet and Oral Health in Kids

More the sugars in food, more caries. Sugary and processed foods are not beneficial to your general health. The food your child eats and which sticks to their teeth is digested by microbes and acid is produced as a by-product. 

This acid is responsible for causing damage to teeth and thus, causing caries. So low sugar foods can reduce bacteria, reduce retained food in the mouth, and can avoid caries to a large extent.

Every time you eat a meal, the pH in the mouth drops and hence, increases the acid levels. This acidity increase leads to caries. Thus, reducing the frequency of snacking can also prevent dental caries.

Prevention of Crooked Teeth

There are ways you as parents can ensure that your child has straight teeth. 

Jaws grow well when your child chews well and use their oral muscles well. Modern man eats a lot of processed foods that are soft and do not require much masticatory (chewing) effort. 

Eating raw fruits and vegetables promotes chewing and ensures good growth of jaws. 

Avoid bottle feeding. Bottle feeding develops improper swallowing patterns in children and this can lead to crooked teeth. Use a sippy cup or glass and spoon instead.

In conclusion, paediatric dentistry deals with the child’s overall growth and healthy being and not just their teeth. If you are concerned about the oral health of your child, consult a paediatric dentist for preventive care and ensure a healthy smile for your child.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.