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Oral health of your kids

Posted on 30 April, 2014 at 1:20 Comments comments ()
Oral health of your kids 
Dr. Kumudu Suriya    

We take our daily food intake through our mouths.  For this reason alone, it is imperative to have good oral heath.
If you are an adult, you can take care of your oral health.  The same cannot be expected from our kids.  It is the responsibility of parents to maintain good oral heath of their children.
Some parents take a very relaxed approach to taking care of oral health of their babies. However, with simple habits, you can easily improve on oral health of your baby. 
• After each feeding, use a clean cloth to wipe gums and tooth-buds of a newborn.
• When teeth appear, brush your baby’s teeth twice a day with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and water.  Brushing before putting to bed is especially important.
• Do not share toothbrushes or any other utensils such as forks, spoons sippy-cups among family members.
• Lift up your baby’s lip regularly to check for decay, white or brown spots on teeth.
• Never use corn syrup, honey or other sugar products on your baby’s soother.
• If your baby sleeps with a bottle, fill it up only with water.  Also plan to stop the bottle between 18 to 24 months.
• Train your baby to drink from a cup when the baby is able to sit up.
There is a range of opinions on what to expect from a toddler.  But, all agree that toddlers cannot be treated as fully independent children.  Toddlers are unable to clean their own teeth properly.  Brush for them.  As they grow older, you can brush with them.  When they are about eight years old, they can brush on their own with your supervision.  Even with older children, you still have to supervise them as the issue is not dexterity, but rather they cut corners with brushing properly or skipping brushing altogether.
As British Columbia Dental Association (BCDA) points out, use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste and gradually increase it to a small pea-sized amount by age three.  This is especially important given the fact that much of the BC water supply is non-Fluoridated.
Brushing needs to be supplemented with flossing.  Focus more on where teeth are touching.  They are the areas that toothbrushes cannot reach.
Brushing teeth only is insufficient.  Brush your gums, tongue and other areas of your mouth.

As indicated in my previous articles, what you eat when and how will have an impact on your oral health.  If you have unhealthy habits, it is most likely that your children will learn them from you.  Integrate good in-house oral care into your daily routine. 
If you are taking your children to a dentist twice a year for checkups, it is easier to keep up with good oral health.  However, taking children to a dentist can put financial pressure on some parents.  This is especially true for some parents who are new immigrants, parents who have recently lost their jobs and families with relatively insufficient income or disabilities.  There are private and some government-assisted insurance plans such as Healthy Kids plan that can relieve you from this pressure.
Make oral health of children an integral part of your family health.

Dr. Kumudu Suriya, BDS (Peradeniya), DMD (UBC), is a dentist who practices in Surrey & New Westminster.  She is a Clinical Instructor at the University of British Columbia and was a lecturer at the University of Peradeniya.

                                                                                                                                April 2014

Sensitive to Teeth Sensitivity?

Posted on 15 December, 2012 at 13:42 Comments comments ()
Sensitive to Teeth Sensitivity?
Dr. Kumudu Wijesinghe Suriya

I can’t remember anyone talking about sensitive teeth when I was a kid.  Now I see many people who are concerned about their teeth sensitivities.  Does this mean that people are becoming more expressive on their teeth sensitivities?  Is it possible that teeth sensitivities are on the rise?  In any event, for sure, teeth sensitivities are not ignored now.

A painful tooth can stem mainly from four distinct situations – decayed tooth, post-operative sensitivity (last for a period of time after a filling), referred tooth pain and dentin hypersensitivity.  A future article will focus on referred tooth pain.  This article focuses on dentin hypersensitivity, enabling you to take preventative steps.

The part above the gum line of a tooth is called a crown.  A layer of hard material called enamel protects the crowns of your teeth.  The part below gum line of a tooth is not fully protected with enamel.  A layer as not as hard as enamel called cementum covers the largest area below gum line.  Underneath both enamel and cementum is dentin.

Dentin is not as hard as enamel and contains tiny microscopic tubes (tubules).  About twenty percent of tubules have nerve fibers penetrating inner dentine by no more than a few microns.  When gums recede, dentin may also be exposed.  The result is dentin hypersensitivity or commonly known as teeth sensitivity.

What are the major causes of teeth sensitivity?
• brushing too hard 
• grinding teeth 
• keeping mouth acidic 
• neglecting oral hygiene 
• gum disease

What can you do? 
• Don’t brush too hard.  Avoid hard toothbrushes.  Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush. 
• Brush twice a day with a proper technique to prevent plaque build up.  This will also reduce the chances of periodontal disease that can cause receding gums. 
• Rinse your mouth to flush out acid build up in your mouth.  Rinsing is especially important when you consume acidic drinks (orange, lime, pop-drinks, etc.) or food. 
• Use fluoridated dental toothpaste to help strengthen enamel.  This is important in light of the fact that BC tap water is mostly non-fluoridated.  You may also want to use toothpaste recommended for sensitive teeth. 
• Avoid using unsafe teeth-whitening products. 
• It is easy to avoid grinding teeth during the day as you can control your action while you are awake.  If you grind during night, you cannot control your actions.  You could use a mouth guard. 
• If you have a small cavity, do not wait till it becomes a major one to see a dentist.

With increasing life-expectancy, you have more years to chew.  If you take preventative measures, you will have a pleasant experience when drinking and eating.

Dr. Kumudu Wijesinghe Suriya, BDS (Peradeniya), DMD (UBC), is a dentist who practices in New Westminster & Surrey.  She is a Clinical Instructor at the University of British Columbia and was a Lecturer at the University of Peradeniya.

Sri Lanka Times (BC, Canada), November 2012