The oral health must be a joint task of parents and children under the control of the pediatrician and dentist. We should emphasise on the prevention of dental problems and parents are responsible for the oral hygiene of children until they are 6 or 7 years old.
We must bear in mind the problems associated with the use of a dummy, the thumb suction, long term and excessive breast-feeding, the use of buccal protectors during sport activities and the advantages of an adequate supplement of fluorine.
The pediatrician must keep his patients’ good oral health evaluating their oral cavity periodically, educating parents about the importance of brushing the teeth and sending the patients to the dentist when it is needed.
1) Dental hygiene
We recommend cleaning the babies’ gums with a piece of gauze since before the teething, thus getting rid of milk clots and the remains of food.
From the moment the first tooth appears parents have to use a toothbrush made of soft bristle; they should help the children until he is 7 or until he gains enough skill and persistence in such activity.
As regards the toothpaste, small quantities are needed, its use can even be omitted.
2) Dietary habits
Though adequate nutrition favours good health, little can nutrients do for the teeth (except for the fluorenes); many foods (sugars, starch) undergo acid degradation that acts on the enamel, and the bigger the consumption, the greater the risk of having dental caries.
RecommendationSuspend the nigh baby bottle as from 10 p.m. approximately.
The baby bottle must not take the dummy over.
The child must be taught to use glasses or cups as from the age of 2.
Increase the consumption of water instead of sweet drinks.
Do not dip the dummy into honey, sugar or other sweet things.
Outside meals, the baby bottle must not be used for sweet substances.
3) The dummy and thumb suction
Periodoncists would rather these did not exist, but they do and their use is relatively normal even during the first couple of years at school.
Concerning the advantages of one or the other, the thumb is first because it is always available and gives a double sensation of pleasure (thumb and palate); it helps the babies satisfy the sucking instinct but this habit is difficult to be given up.
A piece of work published in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry indicates that the anatomic dummy causes more maxillary protrusion and an opener bite.
We do not advise upon the use of baby bottles and dummies after the age of 24 months.
If the habit disappears before the eruption of the permanent incisors, the new teeth are more likely to appear in a normal position.
The most efficient and economic method regarding the prevention of caries is the fluoridation of drinkable water. Should it not be possible we recommend a supplement as from birth until the age of 11 or 13 years old when the fluoridation of the permanent pieces end.
Besides, we recommend combining with toothpaste having fluorine, mouthwash with fluorine after brushing the teeth and periodic topica with fluorine under the control of the dentist.
They are efficient when they are used to prevent dental traumatism; they are essential in all sports (even more those having body contact).
Other preventive measures against dental traumatism include the early correction of bad dental positions and the use of safety belts without exception.
All children over 36 months old should be taken to the dentist to have an evaluation done if due to different reasons they have not been previously taken.