Protecting little SMILES

Dr Devin Chetty, a dentist at Pearly Whites in Umhlanga, shares his tips for keeping young smiles healthy and happy.

It’s no secret that dental care is essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, but many people don’t realise just how important it is to take care of their child’s baby teeth. Dr Chetty recommends getting on the right track at the beginning of baby’s life by choosing the right pacifier. “This will enable your child to develop good habits on the pacifier without causing shifting or damage to their teeth,” he explains. “Being able to chew food properly will prevent digestive issues from developing, while having a full set of teeth at the appropriate ages enables children to develop proper speech and phonetics.”

Having a full, healthy mouth of baby teeth until they fall out at the correct time is also beneficial for orthodontic and jaw development. Dr Chetty encourages parents to take their children to the dentist as soon as their first teeth erupt, which can be as early as six months. “Bringing your child from an early age will allow them to feel comfortable with coming to the dentist,” he adds.
According to Dr Chetty, one of the most common dental issues in children is the development of cavities, which is often caused by the bottle or sippy cup. “These issues are easily preventable,” he says. “Your dentist will teach you about the use of proper kid’s toothbrushes and toothpastes, as well the importance of flossing from a young age.” It’s also important to be mindful of what you place in your child’s bottle or cup – it’s best to avoid fruit juice and added sugar.

When it comes to establishing good oral hygiene habits, Dr Chetty recommends using a good-quality kids’ toothbrush with soft bristles, as well as a toothpaste that contains fluoride and an alcohol-free mouthwash if your child is old enough to rinse. “I would suggest parents brush for their kids up until the age of six years old,” he says.
“After that, it’s important to monitor that your child is doing it correctly. It’s a good idea to bring your child to the dentist for a check-up twice a year, and to educate your kids on the importance of oral health.”
Diet plays a very important role in children’s oral health, and ultimately the development of healthy adult teeth. “Parents should encourage their children to avoid excessive amounts of sugar, and limit fizzy drinks,” says Dr Chetty. “Some good snack options include biltong, nuts and cheese.”

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Details: Level 3A The Pearls Mall, 6 Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga;; 086 155 5111;  [email protected]

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