Nowadays parents of little children are very concerned about their offspring’s health as the ecology can pose a severe threat to their well-being. Infants, toddlers, and teenagers suffer from different diseases as well as adults do. For this reason, parents, along with healthcare providers, try to find ways to prevent children from possible health problems in the future. The easiest means of such preventive care is ensuring proper toothbrushing, flossing, and nutrition. Since care in every age group is different, the rules for mouth hygiene and diet for 4-year-olds are special.
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Nowadays toothbrushing is an important procedure in the child’s overall hygiene. During previous decades, people did not pay much attention to the fact that baby teeth need care. The development of science, including healthcare, provided both parents and physicians with sufficient scientific evidence to understand that appropriate care about mouth cavity allows their children and clients to preserve healthier teeth for a longer time. Parents should pay more attention to the way their children brush the teeth in order to ensure that there are no gum traumas and all harmful bacteria and other microorganisms are exterminated, and the child will not have any cavities or plaque. 4-year-olds need particular care since their baby teeth are to be changed with the permanent ones soon, and brushing habits they acquire at an early age will be preserved in the adulthood (Dental Health Services, 2008, p. 4).
The first important step is to choose appropriate equipment (Dental Health Services, 2008, p. 5). Second, it is needed to show a toddler how to brush his teeth and then let him try to do it by himself. No more than a pea-sized ball of toothpaste can be applied (Dental Health Services, 2008, p. 6). In case the child is not willing to brush the teeth on his own, Dr. William Sears suggests using the following techniques: playing copycat or show and tell, making toothbrush a toy, or, at least, using fingers to do it (Sears, n.d.).
Teeth should be brushed in a gentle manner in order not to hurt the gums. The tip of bristles should be placed towards the gum line and brushed with slow circular movements (Dental Health Services, 2008, p. 8). The surfaces responsible for chewing are brushed with back and forward movements. After the process is completed, the child needs to spit the toothpaste out and rinse the mouth cavity out very carefully. Finally, a child must be taught to take care of his own toothbrush.
Flossing is also a needed technique in 4-year-olds’ mouth hygiene. When the rests of the food stick between the teeth, they will decompose and make the teeth decay since the enamel on child’s teeth is very delicate. For this reason, children of four years of age and older should be taught to floss their teeth after eating.
Joel Berg, a pediatric dentist, suggests starting to floss child’s teeth right after some teeth are in contact with each other (Berg, 2009). In this case, a child will be taught early enough to take care about his mouth and prevent cavity formation between the teeth. Berg recommends flossing every day at bedtime, but if the procedure is a real trouble because of the early age, it can be repeated at least twice a week (Berg, 2009).
Myers Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics organization (2013) advises following some steps to make flossing for 4-year-olds less painful and more effective. The first thing needed is buying a floss helper that can be found in any drug store. The expert does not recommend choosing the helpers that are marketed for children as they have a strange angle for cleaning back teeth, and the floss breaks easily, which makes the process very uncomfortable (Myers Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, 2013).
After the floss helper is chosen, it is needed to occupy the most comfortable position for both a parent and a child. 4-year-olds rarely can perform flossing without hurting the gums on their own; that is why parent’s assistance is important. Myers Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics organization (2013) recommends doing flossing when a child lies on the coach in the room with good light. The child’s head can be hanging off or lying on a parent’s lap. This position allows one to easily get to back teeth. Then, flossing is done the same way as adults do: the floss is placed in the space between the teeth, wrapped to have letter C shape, and gentle sawing movements are made to clean first one and then another tooth.
The healthiness of little children is directly connected to their diet, namely the amount and variety of products they consume every day. In order to develop in a good way, the organism needs a sufficient amount of energy, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. For this reason, parents should control the way their children eat.
Roberts (2013) suggests that a child’s diet should be diverse and include meat, legumes, fruit, vegetables, grains, fats, and dairy. Moreover, the nutritionist advises limiting the child’s consumption of sugar and foods with high fat level as they do not provide the vitamins and minerals needed for a child’s development. The first important thing about nutrition for 4-year-olds is a sufficient amount of calories per day. Roberts (2013) says that each child of this age needs at least 1,200 calories per day. If he or she is rather active, and the height and weight are satisfactory, the number of calories is close to 1,600 per day. In order to ensure that a 4-year-old receives enough calories, he or she needs to eat grains, bread or cereals every day since they are the main source of energy (Roberts, 2013).