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Oral Hygiene

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What does your oral health hygiene mean to you? Many attributes to healthy oral hygiene originate from childhood and education. Throughout proper childhood education, we were taught how to properly brush, maintain healthy eating habits, and attend follow up cleanings and exams. A lot has to do when the child is still in the womb, as well as, pregnancy eating habits, deficiency in vitamin D and womb eruptions. There are many factors to be careful of when maintaining proper oral hygiene. Fluorosis, baby bottle tooth decay, and early childhood caries should be prevented by following the precautions in oral education. By maintaining this education throughout families and women, the education for their children on proper oral hygiene will be present for the future due to generations.

Childhood Development is the evolution of a child from birth to end of adolescence. Maintaining proper oral hygiene during these times is crucial, considering tooth decay (cavities) is the most chronic illness in children and can have a profound impact on a child’s health and quality of life. Studies show that children who had “undergone a dental examination and had laboratory measurements of cadmium and cotinine (a biomarker of exposure to tobacco smoke) in the ages 6-12.” With numerous of sources and widespread distribution, cadmium may be associated with the increase of tooth decay in deciduous teeth. With increasingly widespread distribution, it is important to understand the systemic and oral health factors of cadmium in high children populations.

By following the precautions in oral education; fluorosis, baby bottle tooth decay, and early childhood caries should be prevented. Fluorosis is the appearance of white spots or lines on the teeth from excessive intake of fluoride. In most cases, “the effect is so subtle that only a dentist would notice it during an examination. The type of fluorosis found in the United States has no effect on tooth function and may make the teeth more resistant to decay.” Fluoride strengthens the enamel, the hard layer of the tooth that is visible and protects the pulp and dentin. However, too much of fluoride can result in fluorosis, which can be cured but also prevented. Baby bottle tooth decay consists of sweetened liquids, such as juices, which adhere to the acid in the mouth and cause decay. One common cause is “the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.” To prevent this from happening, diluting juices with water can be helpful to minimize the sugar intake. The constant intake of sugars mixes in with acid and forms a sticky formula that develops decay on the teeth. After something sugary, water will help flush most toxins until the children have time to brush.

Teeth differ in size, shape and their location in the jaws. The grooves and positions of the teeth enable them to work together to perform everyday tasks like talking, chewing and smiling. At birth people usually “contain 20 baby (primary) teeth, which start to come in (erupt) at about 6 months of age. They fall out (shed) at various times throughout childhood. By age 21, all 32 of the permanent teeth have usually erupted.” Due to many differences, there is a vague eruption chart along with the ages certain teeth erupt. The chart is considered a guideline because there are several attributes for the teeth erupting such as pregnancy eating habits, sugary foods, as well as genetics. When pregnant, it is important to consume vitamin D, which will essentially develop the baby’s bones and teeth. Deficiency in vitamin D, and unhealthy eating habits will cause complications throughout pediatric oral hygiene.

Since tooth decay can occur as soon as the first tooth erupts, it is crucial to protect children’s teeth by starting dental checkups early. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry say that “the first dental visit should occur within six months after the baby’s first tooth appears, but no later than the child’s first birthday.’’ This can assure the child or parent is doing a good job getting the plaque off of the child’s teeth every time they brush.Dentists are certified to diagnose early decay in children, and can also determine if it is worth operating since they are going to end up falling out anyways.

Brushing a child’s teeth is very important for the child’s dental care routine, if done properly. According to the ADA, to maintain a healthy mouth and smile, brushing your teeth is an important part of your dental care routine. For a healthy mouth and smile the ADA recommends you to, “brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.” The proper technique for proper oral hygiene is called the “Bass technique.” This technique is when the toothbrush is at a 45-degree angle to the gums. By using wide strokes, brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. To reach the surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes. Proper brushing will decrease the amount of plaque and some calculus (hard plaque), which will then decrease the amount of tooth decay. A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth. Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for halting the progression of periodontal disease and gingivitis. Periodontal disease and gingivitis is inflammation of infections in the structures around the teeth. The disease most likely occurs in older patients caused by harsh brushing or poor oral hygiene. Most patients can visually see the gums start to recede and proceed to be red and inflammation.

Operating on children could be harsh, considering all children have different home conditions, cooperation skills, as well as, the condition itself. Pediatric dental offices will ensure the child’s comfortability as well as treat the condition, making it almost painless. Many children have fear of the dentist because of the sounds, sharp instruments…etc. If this is the case, many offices will recommend sedation using nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide “has been used in medicine for about a century. It’s a safe and effective method of administering sedation, which means that a child (or adult) will stay awake during the procedure, but feel completely relaxed — even happy. All bodily functions remain normal during the administration of nitrous oxide, and its effects wear off quickly afterwards.” The N2O is administered by a small mask that covers the child’s nose containing equal parts of oxygen and nitrous oxide, which makes it safe for the body. Once the child is calm and experience a floating sensation, the operation can begin. However, nitrous oxide does not replace local anesthesia, but acts as an anxiety reliever. Another conflict can occur when children suck on their thumb and pacifier. If a pediatric child “sucks strongly on a pacifier or his thumb or fingers beyond 2 to 4 years of age, this behavior may affect the shape of their mouth or how their teeth are lining up. If a child stops sucking on a pacifier or their thumb or fingers before their permanent front teeth come in, there’s a good chance their bite will correct itself.” To prevent the habits of thumb sucking, ignore the child’s habits. The habits will create problems such as making the teeth portray outwards.

To help align and straighten teeth and help position them with regard to a person’s bite, orthodontics are beneficial. Orthodontics can occur in helping one’s dentition in many options. The traditional type of braces are the stainless steel and metal brackets connected to archwires with colorful elastics. Another similar type of braces are the ceramic braces. Ceramic braces work the same as the traditional ones, however are less visible hence their transparent, ceramic material. Popularity with the Damon braces are increasing, providing a gentler orthodontic experience. Requiring less visits, the Damon braces “are self-ligating and use a slide mechanism instead of elastics to connect the archwires.” Among of other solutions, the last most common treatment are clear and removable aligners. Invisalign involves a series of custom-made plastic aligners that are removable for eating. With the invisalign to work, new adjustments are made every two weeks. Obtaining something small and clear might be hard to cope with, especially rolling it up in a napkin when eating. According to the condition of orthodontic needs, Orthodontists will provide the most convenient solution based on their requisites. According to The American Association of Orthodontists, they recommend that children get screened by an orthodontist at the age of 7 because early childhood is the best time for treatment. When the dentition is transitioning from primary to permanent, the teeth will be easier to shift and straighten into place.

Another problematic issue comes from the home conditions the child is involved in. Improving home environments create many different outcomes, in which they may help the child’s oral health. The effectiveness of proper home conditions result in “improving clinical outcomes (i.e., dmft scores) and behavioral outcomes (i.e., including utilization of future dental care services), and offering potential cost savings.” The annual office visits can be associated with the relationship between the practitioner and the patient. The more often the office visits occur, the more comfortable the patient will be during check-ups or procedures. Oral check-ups are essential because the Dentist has to explore the mouth for any complications and further procedures. Before further procedures, there are many preventions that can be taken. Sealants can be used to fill in deep grooves on the teeth acting as another layer before decay forms. Attending oral check-ups will help depict if any precautions need to be done.

Through poor home conditions, childhood abuse can occur. In the dental office, many professionals can determine childhood abuse within the mouth. According to studies, “between 65 and 75% of all non-accidental injuries to children involve the head, face, mouth, or neck, suggesting that dentists may come into contact with a significant number of abused children.”. Various of signs of abuse include; chips and cracks in the teeth, poor cooperation behaviors, bruises on the face or body, and/or oral lesions. Most times, the dentist can evaluate the patient on abuse with their behavioral issues. The dentist is required to file a report with their appropriate authorities, such as local or state youth services agencies. If failed to file a report, the dentist can result in a misdemeanor 3. Many children who are socially withdrawn, melancholy, and shying away from physical contact may be resulted in child abuse. Poor home conditions can develop child abuse and be analyzed within the dental office.

By maintaining knowledge of childhood development, there are many precautions and issues to be aware of. Many factors can be prevented in extent to healthy oral hygiene. Proper comprehension of these precautions can result in preventing fluorosis, baby bottle tooth decay, early childhood caries, proper brushing, pregnancy eating habits, deficiency in vitamin D, and home conditions. For this reason, improving childhood development education is crucial for an overall healthy lifestyle. Thus, as older generations continue, the younger generations will inherit this intelligence and guidance. As a result, childhood education will determine the path of healthy oral hygiene.  

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