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World Oral Health Day 2019: How to take care of your kid's pearly whites

Pay attention to your child's oral hygiene right from the beginning. © Shutterstock

Fighting your kid's dental issues can be a daunting task if not addressed on time. On World Oral Health Day today, know how you can ensure that his gum and teeth are healthy. Save that smile!

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : March 20, 2019 12:55 PM IST

Millions of people, including kids, suffer from poor oral health and hygiene worldwide. In India, unfortunately, concern for the dental hygiene of children take a back seat among parents, as the focus remains on other health parameters. However, unhealthy teeth and gums have a negative impact on their growth, development, cognitive qualities, nutrition absorption capacities, communication skills, self-esteem and various other general health conditions. Oral diseases, left untreated, may lead to oral cancer and precancerous conditions at a later stage. World Oral Hygiene Day, celebrated every year on 20th March, aims to spread awareness about dental health and overall oral hygiene. The theme of this year's World Oral Health Day (WOHD) campaign is Say Ahh: Act on Mouth Health'. This campaign was launched by the World Dental Federation in 2013.

Yes, the increased instances of poor dental health among the Indian population, especially children, demands action. The earlier the better. On World Oral Health Day 2019, we tell you how to ensure healthy gum and teeth for your kids.

Make sure they eat fluoride-rich foods

Fluoride is a natural mineral that is important for your child s dental health. Present in foods including grape juice, raisins, pickles, cucumber, apple juice, white rice, potatoes and drinking water, fluoride potentially reduces cavities in the teeth. Being a key component of those pearly whites, it reduces the amount of acid produced by bacteria in the oral cavity. Also, it will help make your little one's teeth strong by hardening the tooth enamel.US National Academy of Sciences, Food and Nutrition Board, suggests that children must have at least 0.7-2 milligrams of dietary fluoride every day. Additionally, too much fluoride is also not good for oral health. It can cause tooth stains.

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Teach your child the right technique of brushing

Brushing is a vital part of dental hygiene. However, to effectively reap its benefit, it is important to know the correct way of brushing. So, teach the technique to your kid at an early age. Give him a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush to clean his teeth around the age of 1 or 2. Make sure he gets into the habit of brushing teeth two times a day for 2 minutes only. Also, do not let your child use fluoride-based toothpaste till the age of 2 years. This type of toothpaste is considered unsafe for your child to swallow. Once your little bundle of joy is old enough to spit out the toothpaste, switch to a toothpaste that has fluoride. Teach him to spread it in the entire mouth properly. Also, change your child s toothbrush every 3 to 6 months or whenever bristles look worn.

Help your kid floss properly

Flossing is another important part of your child s oral health routine. It helps remove dental plaque located in places where a toothbrush cannot reach (in between teeth). Teach your kid to floss at least once a day and show him how to hold the floss between thumb and index finger. He should not put too much pressure while inserting the floss between his teeth. The floss needs to be gently curved to clean the base of each tooth. Colourful plastic floss that comes with a handle can be easier for your child to use. Also, make sure your he cleans his tongue.

Pick the right toothbrush and toothpaste

A child s body is delicate. Therefore, whatever he uses should be soft. Though the market is flooded with a number of oral hygiene products, when you are picking a toothbrush for your kid, go for a soft tooth brush with simple rounded tuft of bristles. And, toothpaste should be free from fluoride till the age of 2.

Avoid cavity formation

Cavities are basically holes in the teeth that form because of tooth decay caused by germs. They can affect both inner and outer layers of your teeth namely dentin and enamel. When sugar and carbohydrates from food and drinks linger on your child's teeth, the bacteria in her mouth turn into acid, which can destroy those pearly whites. Though children are more prone to get cavities as their teeth can be harder to brush, adults can also get cavities. Additionally, people with cavities in their teeth can pass the cavity-causing bacteria to others.

Having sugary foods and drinks along with non-nutritious snacks can increase your child s risk of getting cavities. Sugary foods like soft drinks, candy, cookies and pastries contribute to tooth decay. Therefore, it is significant to eat healthy. Limit your child s intake of sweet snacks and drinks between meals. Make sure you kid eats foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, A, K1, K2, and vitamin E.

Give him chewing gum

Chewing gum can strengthen your child s jaw. It can also help in the production of saliva and wash away food residues from his teeth. Additionally, it can balance acid that can cause tooth decay and freshen your child s breath. However, gum containing sugar should be avoided as it can cause cavities.

Visit the dentist at the right time

You should begin your child s regular dental visits as early as six months after the first tooth erupts or after his first birthday. Keep visiting the dentist's chamber at an interval of 6 months for regular check-up. Also, watch out for symptoms which may necessitate immediate consultation with a paediatric oral health expert.

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