Kids are so busy with school, family and co-curricular activities now days. They are learning numerous things every day. Among all these rush, one of the necessary life skills every child needs to learn is brushing his/her teeth properly. When you brush your teeth, you help remove food and plaque (a sticky white thing forms on your teeth) which contains bacteria. After you eat a meal or snacks, the bacteria in plaque produces acids that attack tooth enamel. It is best to brush teeth twice a day, in morning as you wake up and at night before going to bed. Brushing at night is actually more important than during the day. The food you eat leaves particles and residue on your teeth that feed bacteria while you sleep.
Why is taking care of your teeth so important?
Your teeth are important in many ways. Strong and healthy teeth helps to chew food properly, speak clearly and to look your best with that lovely smile. Taking care of your teeth and gums will help to prevent the formation of plaque and cavities which cause tooth decays, if left untreated. Plaque is a combination of bacteria, food particles, saliva and acid that sticks to your teeth. The bacteria in plaque cause tooth decay and gum disease if they are not removed regularly through brushing and flossing. So, taking care of your teeth is as important as taking care of any other part of your body.
What are the common dental problems faced by kids?
Most of the dental problems faced by kids are the same as faced by adults, but since young teeth are still developing and softer as compared to the adult’s teeth, adopting a healthy oral hygiene habit at this young age becomes more important to avoid serious problems as child grows up. Let’s understand the common dental problems that are affecting kids:
Tooth decay: Tooth decay is the most common dental problem faced by kids across the world which is caused by the accumulation of plaque on teeth. Carbohydrate (starchy, sugary kinds) rich foods help plaque to grow and eat away the teeth gradually. Cookies, candies, soda, fruit juice and other sugary foods are the preferred choice by kids these days and the main reason for the rise in the number of cavities in kids. Tooth decays can be prevented by following proper brushing routine.
Bad breath or Halitosis: The bacteria in our mouth feeds on leftover food, fluid and plaque and produce hydrogen sulfide, which leads to a bad smell in the mouth. In children, it is most common in the morning when they wake up. Brushing your teeth before going to bed at night can prevent this problem to a large extent. Other than that, cleaning your tongue and using an antibacterial mouthwash can also help.
Sensitivity: If your child complains of irritation or discomfort after having hot or cold foods/fluids, it is a sign of sensitive teeth. Children’s enamels are thinner than that of adults and are easily eroded by plaque and acids which may cause receding gums and developing of cracks on the tooth surface thereby exposing the nerve endings and causing the pain. A soft- bristled toothbrush can help your child to combat this pain.
Gum disease or Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the inflammation of gum tissue which is caused by poor oral hygiene and plaque buildup resulting in gum bleeding, bone damage & sometimes tooth loss too. The best way to prevent it is to brush twice daily.
Why nighttime brushing is so important for kids?
Nighttime brushing can prevent bad breath caused by the food which is left in your mouth overnight. It will help to get rid of the acidic waste created by the bacteria that leads to tooth decay. While you are sleeping, production of saliva in your mouth decreases and the damage caused to the teeth and gums caused by bacteria increases. Whatever food you have been eating throughout the day, ends up sitting in your mouth and acts as the feed for the bacteria. Brushing at nighttime can also prevent the formation of plaque and tartar on the teeth thereby preventing tooth & gum diseases.
Food choices that can improve your a child’s dental health
Calcium: Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for healthy teeth. It strengthens the hard outer shell of tooth called enamel, which is the defence against erosion and cavities. Calcium rich food like milk, cheese, broccoli and other milk products are the best food sources for kid’s healthy teeth development.
Magnesium: This is a vital vitamin for the body. Not only is it deficient in most of the kids, its deficiency can result in the calcium deficiency too. Magnesium helps too absorb calcium in the body and hence has a role to play in building teeth strong and teeth enamel. (What are some easy food sources of magnesium?)
Foods with fluoride: It helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugar in the mouth. Grapes, spinach, raisin are good source of fluoride.
Fiber rich fruits and vegetables: Foods with fiber help keep teeth and gums clean, says research. Next to good home dental care, this is the best natural defence against cavities and gum disease. In traditional times, people never used toothbrushes but rather used their teeth to cut and chew on hard, fibrous veggies to keep their teeth clean and gums strong. Orange, carrots, apricots and dark leafy vegetables are rich sources of vitamin A, which is most important for teeth enamel formation and also to keep gums healthy. (How to cook foods with Vitamin-A)
Neem: Traditionally neem sticks were used as toothbrushes. Neem has a high place in the traditional medicine world. Due to its antibacterial properties, neem is considered to treat bacterias and heal. It is quite useful in dentistry for curing gingival (tissues which provide a seal around teeth) problems and maintain oral health in a natural way. Neem is an additive in some branded toothpastes nowadays.
Peppermint: It is a widely used herb for dental health as it acts as a breath freshener and teeth whitener. Recent scientific studies have found that peppermint fights bacteria inside your mouth which causes gum disease. Peppermint oil is an effective way to reduce plaque (a combination of bacteria, food particles, saliva and acid that sticks to the teeth). Rinsing with diluted peppermint oil can solve bad breath also. (What are some ayurvedic herbs to build immunity?)
Recipe for Veggie Cheese Dough
- 1 medium capsicum shredded
- half broccoli
- 1 long carrot pureed
- 2 handful corn kernels whole or shredded
- 1 medium onion chopped finely
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 200gm cottage cheese/ paneer grated
- 1 bowl sprouts pureed
- 1 bowl oats or oats flour
- 1 bowl sorghum flour or wheat flour or any other
Sauté the veggies- onion, brocolli, capsicum, corn, carrot. Add them to the wheat flour and oats. Add salt and pepper. Add cottage cheese. Add carrot puree and sprout puree. Mix well to make a soft dough. Add more flour if required. Roll a small ball into a paratha or wrap or tortilla. Serve with any curry to yogurt or plain.
Super yummy and nutritious!
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