As a family dental practice we often get asked about the best ways to clean and protect your children’s teeth. We know you want to do everything you can to keep their mouth healthy which is why we’ve put together a handy guide to help you minimise the risk of the development of tooth decay and erosion from an early age.
When should I first bring my child to the dentist?
You should start bringing your child to the dentist as soon as they have teeth. This familiarises the child with the dental setting from a very young age. Your dentist can then educate you on the best ways to take care of your child’s teeth as they grow up.
Children can develop cavities very quickly if they have a high sugar diet, so early detection of these lesions is vitally important. It is therefore imperative for young children to be seen every six months. If a cavity is detected very early it can be treated pain free and without the need for anaesthetic. The diet of that child can then be discussed with the dentist, and measures put in place to prevent further cavities.
What is the best way to brush my children’s teeth?
Small babies can be swaddled in a towel and laid on your lap, or sat on your knee facing away from you with their head rested on your chest.
Up to the age of 7, parents should always check that tooth brushing is being done correctly.
If smaller children resist tooth brushing, try and make it fun for them. Let them be independent and brush their own teeth as long as they let you brush them afterwards. Show them how to brush their teeth using circular motions around each surface.
Buying a little timer is always good too to make sure you have brushed for two minutes.
What Toothpaste Do You Recommend for Kids?
Age 0-2 – Just use a soft toothbrush and water, do not use toothpaste.
Age 2-7 – Use pea size amount of toothpaste over 1000ppm fluoride strength
Age 7 and over – Use adult toothpaste 1300-1500ppm fluoride strength
Can you prevent decay in children’s teeth?
A low sugar diet, good brushing and regular visits to the dentist are a great start but we have many preventative measures to stop children getting decay in their teeth.
- Fluoride varnish. This is a varnish that is painted on children’s teeth every six months to help prevent decay.
- Fissue seals. These are seals that are placed over the biting surfaces of your adult teeth also to help prevent decay.
How important is Their Diet?
Eating patterns and food choices are important factors that affect how quickly children may develop tooth decay.
We recommend avoiding sugary snacks in between meals and making sure they don’t have anything sugary after 6pm.
Try to give children fruit or savoury snacks in general but watch out for dried fruits like raisins and mango. They tend to be very sugary and stick to your teeth. Fresh fruit is better.
Having juice occasionally at meal times is ok but water is the best thing to drink, especially in between meals.
If your child is younger, make sure they are not drinking juice from a bottle, only water.
Although milk is good for babies, if left on their teeth at night it can cause cavities so it’s best not to leave them in bed with a bottle. Give them their last bottle of the day, brush their teeth and put them to bed.
When your child’s permanent adult teeth start to come through, it helps if they have a healthy mouth to grow into. Following these steps is fundamental in supporting their development and ensuring the best possible future for their oral health.