Proper oral hygiene is crucial at any age, but especially for children. According to a recent study, a shocking number of Canadian children are undergoing dental surgery to fill cavities or remove teeth -- news that's cause for concern among dentists and parents.
How well are your children taking care of their teeth?
According to a report released October 17 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), approximately 19,000 children between the ages of one and five will be hospitalized annually for dental surgeries. Many of these children suffer from severe cavities as well as advanced tooth decay, requiring fillings and sometimes removal of the damaged teeth. The CIHI estimates these surgeries, which require anesthesia, cost the country approximately $21.2 million annually.
The main causes the CIHI identified for this problem include lack of knowledge about proper oral hygiene, lack of available dental care or income level as well as low fluoride levels in water. While these challenges can certainly impact a child's oral health, there some proven practices you can teach them to lessen their chances for needing such advanced dental work at a young age.
Natural Tooth Care
Your children will learn to care for their teeth by your example. Set regular times, when possible, for the entire family to complete their oral care routine, so they see it as a daily tradition as opposed to a chore.
When shopping, it's best to look for products that are free of artificial ingredients or sugar, which is often added to make the product taste better. However, that sugar is the last thing their teeth need. Once consumed, sugars feed the bacteria in your child's mouth, converting in into acid which causes erosion of the tooth's enamel that leads to the development of cavities as well as tooth decay. Many natural toothpastes and mouthwashes are made with xylitol, an all natural, plant-derived sugar alcohol that actually helps prevent tooth decay and cavities. Other natural ingredients to look for with antibacterial properties include tea tree oil and neem.
Children should brush their teeth at least twice daily with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. They should brush their teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush for two minutes, applying gentle pressure to the gumline and making sure to cover the inside, outside and chewing surfaces of the teeth. Rinsing thoroughly afterward will remove all the yucky stuff. As they get older, daily flossing can also be added to their routine as well as the use of a mouthwash. Regardless of the brand or ingredients, make sure they don't swallow their oral hygiene products.
More Ways to Protect Teeth
When it comes to their diet, you should limit your child's consumption of processed and refined sugars like those found in sodas, candy or sweet breakfast cereals. Food that are high in acid, such as citrus fruits, should also be consumed with some caution. Try using a straw when giving your child fruit juices and and make sure they stick to their oral hygiene routine.
You should also make sure your child's diet contains plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is a mineral crucial for the development and continued strength of the teeth and bones and vitamin D helps these tissue better absorb it. Here are the recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for calcium and vitamin D, according to Health Canada:
Infants up to six months -- 200 mg
Seven to 12 months -- 260 mg
One to three years -- 700 mg
Four to eight years -- 1,000 mg
Nine to 18 years -- 1,300 mg
Infants up to six months -- 400 IU/10 mcg
Seven to 12 months -- 400 IU/10 mcg
One to three years -- 600 IU/15 mcg
Four to eight years -- 600 IU/15 mcg
Nine to 18 years -- 600 IU/15 mcg
Help your children learn the importance of proper oral hygiene. You can find everything you need to help your little take care of their teeth now and for the future at eVitamins Canada!