WHEN THE CHILD IS UNWELL…
For every parent, including me, children falling ill is the worst nightmare. Usually the parent is sleepy and stressed by having to follow the exact timing for administering the prescribed medication or other therapy.
As a pediatric dentist and mother of twins I want to share with you several key issues, during short or longer ailments, which may pose hazards to our children’s dental or gum health.
The main problem with a sick child is the insufficient uptake of liquids and food, poor oral hygiene, and the warmer mucous membranes are the perfect environment for the development of pathogenic microflora.
Other significant accompanying symptoms of every mild or more serious illness, which may produce early caries, are:
Fever – it can dehydrate a child’s body, reduce the saliva flow, result in the accumulation and mineralization of plaque (tartar formation), and the altered microbiome in the mouth contributes to bad breath and coated tongue.
Antibiotics therapy – these are usually thick and heavily sweetened liquids. Most of them are to be taken every 6 to 12 hours, which requires administration during sleep and makes it impossible to properly clean the teeth afterwards. They stick to the enamel and mucous membranes, reduce the oral pH for a long time. That is why you should always give the child some water, after the antibiotics!
Corticosteroid inhalations – these are a frequent cause for the formation of white defects and early caries in the area of the neck of the tooth, unless the mouth is rinsed with water after the administration. If you fail to wash the area around child’s mouth after using the inhaler, small rash often occurs, which is rather unpleasant and difficult to cure.
Coated tongue – one of the first symptoms of the onset of illness. It is a coating on the back of the tongue, which disappears after child’s recovery, but it has an off-white color and unpleasant smell, due to the food and medicine residues it contains. This may be related with a fungal infection, accompanying the medical condition or it may be a symptom of avitaminosis.
Gingivitis and aphthae – very often their occurrence accompanies ailments of the upper respiratory tract, and sometimes they are a symptom of the disease itself. Most of the various categories of seasonal flus in children cause aphthous, painful rash in the mouth or are the main symptom – for example the herpangina.
Bad breath – it is caused by poor oral hygiene and has a multifactorial etiology, caused by fever, coated tongue, insufficient consumption of food and liquids, including drug-provoked stomach problems.
Runny nose – in the case of a runny nose, whether the secretion comes out of the nose or goes back to the rhino-pharynx, it stimulates breathing through the mouth. This quickly dries the teeth and mucosa. And dry mucous membranes provide impaired defense and immune response, which further aggravates the infection. On the other hand, this once again closes the vicious circle – dry teeth, quick fixation and plaque mineralization, and this is the main source and perfect environment for elevation of the microbial count in children’s mouths.
That is why, dear parents, when you children are unwell, you should add oral hygiene to their treatment, as a main pillar in fighting the infection. And as soon as your child is well again, you must replace their toothbrush!
Dr. Tsveti Ducheva