The foundation for healthy permanent teeth in children and teenagers is laid during the first years of life. Poor diet, poor habits of food intake and inadequate tooth brushing habits during the first 2 years of life have been are directly related to tooth decay in children. The development of caries in primary/milk teeth further increases the risk of developing caries in permanent teeth.
Therefore, it is essential to establish a proper oral hygiene routine in the early years to help ensure the development of strong and healthy teeth. Parents should set a daily routine and help their children understand the importance of oral hygiene. Tooth brushing should be presented as a habit and an integral part of the daily hygiene routine. Children are very sensitive to social stimuli such as praise and affection, and learn best by imitating their parents.
Importance of the primary/Milk dentition
Milk teeth start to erupt in children from the age of six months. The primary dentition is complete by approximately two and a half years of age. The milk teeth are more susceptible to caries as it is less densely mineralized than permanent teeth . Primary teeth play an important role both for chewing and learning to talk. A full set of teeth is an essential prerequisite in learning correct pronunciation. Primary teeth also play a vital role in the proper alignment and spacing of permanent teeth; it is therefore imperative that they are well cared for and preserved until normal shedding takes place. In addition to good oral hygiene, diet also plays a key role in keeping teeth healthy. In this respect it is not only the quantity of sugar that is important, but also the frequency of consumption. As much as possible, children should be limited in the amount of sweets between meals, especially in the evening or at night.
Role of Parents
Parents play a key role in helping their children to develop a proper oral hygiene routine in the first years of their life. Parents should supervise their children’s tooth brushing approximately for the first 12 years, until motor and sensory functions allow the child to routinely perform a proper tooth brushing technique independently. After brushing the teeth for their children for the first 2 years of life, parents will have to use playful motivation to encourage their children to brush their own teeth from about 3 years onwards – the time when children want to brush their teeth alone. parents have to continue supervising the regular brushing efforts of their children. Primary teeth should be brushed twice daily by the parents .