Do oral health problems affect children differently than adults?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

There are some important considerations when it comes to preventing oral health problems in children. Even though young children will lose their baby teeth when their adult teeth grow in, baby teeth still need special care to ensure a healthy mouth. When a baby's first teeth grow in, you can brush them gently with water to help keep them clean. After the child reaches two years of age, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used. Once a child is old enough to brush his or her own teeth, parental supervision is still necessary. Be sure the child uses only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and ensure that they rinse thoroughly and do not swallow any. A child should have his or her first dental visit when their first tooth appears. Your dentist can then recommend the best dental care regimen for the child.

Cavities and gum disease can affect adults and children alike. Developing tooth decay and gum disease at an early age  can affect your child's mouth long-term. That's why it's so important to instill good brushing and flossing habits while  children are still young.

Oral health problems occur in children for a number of reasons. Some kids may not put as much time and effort into brushing and flossing as adults. Also, if baby teeth decay, they can fall out sooner than they would otherwise, which can leave less room for new, permanent teeth. Children also tend to suck on their fingers or on pacifiers, which can cause adult teeth to grow in crooked. Finally, some children consume too many sugary sodas and other sweets, which can harm the teeth.

To protect children's teeth and gums, make sure they brush twice a day, and help them floss. Avoid soda, and limit fruit  juice to about 6 to 12 ounces a day.

Oral health problems can affect children differently. As children’s mouths, gums and teeth are still developing, oral health problems can have a greater and longer lasting impact. Baby teeth set the foundation for adult teeth. In fact oral health related illnesses result in 51 million missed hours of school each year. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.