Growing Well Comprehensive Guide for Growing Children
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What is the advantage of regular use of Fluoride?
Regular use of fluoride is of critical importance for control and prevention of tooth decay.

How does the regular use of Fluoride help control tooth decay?
Fluoride helps prevent and control decay in the following ways -
  • Ingestion of fluoride (water, certain foods) results in incorporation of fluoride into enamel and dentin of unerupted (developing) tooth buds
  • Makes the structure of enamel and dentin harder and more resistant to acid attack after the teeth have erupted.
  • Ingested fluoride with saliva, enters the plaque and reduces the acid produced by bacteria.
  • Fluoride from saliva enters enamel of newly erupted teeth (whose calcification is incomplete) and enhances enamel calcification.

Water fluoridation i.e. right levels of fluoride in drinking water can provide most of these benefits. (The protection offered by drinking fluoridated water persists for a lifetime.)

Are fluoride supplements necessary?
You must consult your doctor to find out, whether the water you get is fluoridated or not? If the natural fluoride content in drinking water is already high, such supplements are not required.

But, I have heard that very high levels of Fluoride also cause problems?
Yes! You heard right. Very high levels of fluoride cause dental fluorosis - a defect in enamel causing brownish stains on teeth. So one has to be careful and not take more fluoride than required. Some common supplements are fluoride gels and toothpaste.

Are Fluoride tooth pastes required? How good are fluoride toothpastes?
Fluoride is a mineral, which strengthens and makes the enamel resistant to decay and cavities. Ask your dentist about the required toothpaste. If you don't have a dentist ask your family physician. I know it is right for you mothers to wonder if these toothpaste are safe? These should not cause worry unless child consumes a couple of tubes of toothpaste. Administer a small size (size of pea) and see to it that your child rinses mouth and does not swallow the toothpaste.

Queries on dental care and hygiene of a toddler
  • What is the age at which a toddler requires regular dental check-up?
  • When does the first milk tooth fall off? Under normal circumstances which tooth falls first?
  • In case any of the milk teeth have cavities and are left unattended, would this effect the new permanent teeth of the child?
  • Is there any difference between the growth and formation of a bottle fed baby`s teeth and that of a breast-fed baby?
  • How do you know that my son needs braces? Two dentists have given differing opinions. Also what is the right age to get them fitted?
  • In this day of unethical practice even in medical profession, how can one be sure that your child does actually need the treatment (braces- which are required purely for non-cosmetic reasons), expensive root-canals etc.?
Should sticky chocolates and sweets be totally banned from a child's intake?
These food items are rich in refined foods with high sugar & low fibre content. Today the rate of dental decay is higher in civilized, urban population due to the nature of diet consumed. It is difficult to stop your child from eating chocolates & sweets. Every uncle/aunt/ visitor gets chocolates & sweets for the child as gifts. No parent ever buys them chocolates! These are irresistible. Bacteria too love these sugary foods & convert them into harmful acids. One should not give these bacteria a chance to drill cavities in the teeth.

Your child can eat sweets & chocolates but eat them only along with regular meals, since after meals teeth are properly cleaned so that all these sweet foods do not remain stuck between teeth.

It is dangerous, if the same chocolates and sweets are eaten in between meals (which are how these are taken). These sweets remain stuck to the teeth for a very long time since we do not brush after every feast of chocolate (but only after a meal). This gives the bacteria not only a greater amount of sugar but also more time to produce their harmful acids. Every time sweets are eaten, acid is produced and tooth is attacked.

Due to these repeated attacks, the tooth can only protect itself if,

  1. We don’t eat sticky chocolates sweets between meals
  2. We brush after every meal
\Is periodic snacking harmful?
Just like sweets, snacking is difficult to avoid. But see to it that the child eats right type of snacks. Avoid cokes, chips, burgers, and biscuits. Rather ask your child to bite an apple or carrot. Not only are raw fruits and vegetables nutritious but also rich in fibres and help to clean teeth and make them stronger. Frequent snacking should be avoided. We do not brush or rinse after every snack. Food particles remain on teeth longer and the bacteria enjoy themselves gorging on these snacks rich in carbohydrates and form acids.

Are Calcium tablets necessary for my son's teeth if he is getting milk and curds twice a day?
Like bones, tooth enamel is mainly made up of calcium. Calcium and phosphorous are necessary for hardening tooth structures till teeth are fully formed. Milk and other dietary products are rich in calcium whereas phosphorus is found in meat, fish, eggs, cereals. If your son is getting a balanced diet and milk and curd as you have mentioned, he does not need supplements.

A few guidelines to be followed:

  1. Pregnant women � highly nutritious, well balanced diet � foundation of teeth laid early.
  2. Child should have well balanced diet � fresh fruits, vegetables. Even snacks should be nutritious.
  3. Reduce frequency of snacking and sweets/chocolates
  4. Avoid sticky foods (chikkis, chocolates, sweets) between meals
  5. Brush after every meal/snack.

Incidence of decay is higher in civilized societies, where modern diet consists of refined food with sugar content � breads, biscuits, cokes, chocolates, pastries and low fibre content, pizzas, burgers, colas. Also rate of snacking is higher in these group of people. NORMAL TOOTH STRUCUTRESingle dental unit consists of :

  1. enamel
  2. DentinPicture
  3. Pulp
  4. Cementum
  5. Periodontal fibres
  6. Bone surrounding teeth
  7. Gums surrounding bones

Tooth is made of two parts

  1. Crown – visible in mouth
  2. Root – embedded in the jaw and covered by gums. Not visible

Enamel:Outermost hard protective covering of tooth (crown). Color ranges from white, whitish grey to yellowish white. High mineral content chief being calcium. Dentin:Makes up bulk of tooth. It is protected by enamel, yellowish in color. Sensitive portion as deeper parts of dentin contains nerves.
:Centremost portion of the teeth. It is the heart of the tooth as it contains rich supply of nerves and blood vessels. Blood vessels supply nutrition and oxygen to tooth. Keep it healthy and alive.
: Just as enamel is outermost covering of the crown, cementum is the outermost protective covering of root. This covers the dentin in the root.
PDL Fibres
: These support the tooth. These delicate fibres run from the cementum of root and attach the tooth to jaw bone.
Bone:Every tooth is supported or lies embedded in the bony socket of jaw. Gums: Gums cover the bone and only crown is visible.

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