Pediatric oral care: How dental hygienists can assist parents and children in oral care

Many oral diseases, such as dental caries, are public health concerns that are preventable. Dental professionals can facilitate prevention of these diseases in children by presenting home care education, encouraging skill development, and fostering self-efficacy techniques. Additionally, by assisting parents in developing values of total health for their children, long-term health goals can be achieved.

© Kiriill Ryzhov | Dreamstime.com

Oral care is vital to the well-being of children, both in the short term and for their entire lives. This includes brushing, flossing, and acquiring key knowledge related to nutrition. Dental hygienists, in particular, are vital to promoting a total health concept and assisting parents in teaching the best oral health practices for their children.

Figures 1 and 2 are examples of potential damage by children. In Figure 1, the damage is related to pressure applied by a power toothbrush over time to a specific area of the mouth. Very young children are sometimes given toothbrushes and allowed to “play” with them, potentially keeping brushes in their mouths for long periods of time. For example, power toothbrushes are sometimes given to children while they watch television shows. Children may hold power toothbrushs in one area or on one tooth for an extended period of time, such as is seen in Figure 2.

Figure 1: A child was allowed to “play” with a manual toothbrush throughout the day. Note the recession and the tissue trauma on all anterior teeth.