A kid’s smile is a sign of happiness. This smile is made brighter by the teeth. A child’s baby teeth are unique and beautiful in their own way.
We all know that there are two sets of teeth. Milk teeth or primary teeth and permanent teeth.
These primary teeth are often neglected as it is replaced by permanent teeth.
THE MILK TEETH MAY SERVE DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS:
The tooth is an important organ that is made for chewing. At an age of two and a half to 3 years, a child may start eating solid foods. At this stage, the primary teeth help in chewing. Lack of these teeth, or if the teeth present are not in function, the child may end up with malnutrition.
A child starts speaking at an age of around two. The upper and lower front teeth, guide the tongue in a favorable position so that the required syllables are initiated.
- Facial appearance:
The front upper and lower teeth, as well as the back upper and lower teeth, are maintained in a vertical position. This will maintain the vertical dimension of the lower facial height. When the vertical dimension is maintained by maintaining the facial prominences, the physical appearance of the face improves.
- To guide the permanent teeth in place:
All front teeth, and 40 percent of the back teeth, follow the primary teeth to come and stay in the mouth. The milk teeth also help in maintaining the jaw width.
- Maintenance of space:
This is one of the important functions of primary teeth. Primary teeth maintain the space, that is needed for the permanent teeth to occupy. When the space is maintained, the permanent teeth reach their correct position, and the malalignment of teeth that occurs in the future is prevented.
When a kid smiles, the teeth rush out to add beauty to their smile. Healthy teeth, adds extra esthetics to their face. Apart from esthetics, it boosts the confidence of the kid, when they are at school, or with their friends.
Milk teeth serve a lot of functions. The form, shape, and disease-free state of the teeth makes them more functional
HOW ARE THESE TEETH GO FUNCTIONLESS?
- Caries / cavities / decayed teeth.
There are two forms of early childhood caries in a child’s baby teeth. They are.
- Rampant caries
This form of caries occurs in, all the milk teeth and affects, all the surface of the teeth.
- Nursing bottle caries.
This occurs due to improper usage of feeding bottles. Here, all the teeth are affected, except the lower anterior teeth, which are protected by the tongue when using feeding bottles.
As the child gets engaged in physical activities, the teeth may undergo fracture, due to trauma/accidents. This may sometimes lead to loss of teeth.
HOW TO MAINTAIN THE KIDS TEETH DISEASE-FREE?
- Oral hygiene:
The main reason for early childhood caries or decay or cavities is improper oral hygiene. The oral hygiene measures should start as soon as the kid started taking liquid foods. i.e immediately after birth.
A piece of white cloth/gauze is used in a finger and the gum pads are cleaned gently. As the gum pads carry the tooth bud this act may prevent the caries process in the future.
Brushing should start when the child’s first teeth emerge in the mouth. It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian, to help the child brush his / her teeth. The child should be helped in brushing till he/she develop the dexterity to brush properly. This will develop at the age of 8.
The most common and simple technique, recommended for brushing kids’ teeth is Fone’s technique. Here the toothbrush is placed at an angle of 45 deg, against the teeth, and the brush is moved in a circular motion. The brushing is done outside, inside, and chewing surface of the teeth.
Kids brush is advised for brushing. Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended or toothpaste recommended by your general dentist can be used.
It is important to know how much toothpaste can be used. If a child is too young to spit the foam after brushing, or the chance of swallowing the paste is more, it is advised to use a smear of toothpaste, or the size of a rice grain amount of paste.
When a child can voluntarily spit the toothpaste after brushing pea-sized amount of paste can be used.
- To protect the teeth from Fracture:
A child may get involved in various indoor and outdoor physical activities. The chance of getting trauma to the teeth is high, during the childhood period. Proper safety gears, must be used in order to protect the teeth from trauma or fracture.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A DENTIST?
Management of Caries or decayed teeth
Decayed teeth present with whitish, yellowish, or blackish areas with or without cavitation. All the areas of cavitation can be restored back to normal with a tooth-colored material.
When the cavity is deep but the tooth is restorable a procedure called pulpectomy is done. A pulpectomy is similar to root canal treatment as in adults to save the decayed teeth. In a pulpectomy, the infected portion of the root canal is cleaned and the root is filled with a material that has the tendency to resorb along with the root. Later the tooth is made functional by placing Stainless steel crown. If the tooth cannot be restored, it is removed and the space is saved for the new tooth to erupt by using space maintainers.
ROLE OF PARENTS IN KIDS ORAL HYGIENE:
- It is important to follow the kid’s regular dental checkups.
- Retained primary teeth, needs to be removed professionally, to prevent the malalignment of the permanent teeth.
- Kids brushing to be monitored periodically to ensure he/she is able to maintain proper oral hygiene.
- Any changes in the teeth or in the mouth noticed has to be reported to the General dentist immediately.
- It is the responsibility of the parents, to be a role models in maintaining proper oral hygiene.
Special and complicated cases are managed by PEDODONTIST (Trained dental professionals especially for children)