An Article by our own Dr Amrita Bhogal:
Being a dentist and a mother of two small children, children’s dental health is something I hold close to my heart. A recent article claimed that in 2016-17, there were 43,000 operations to remove children’s teeth. A staggering 170 extractions a day were being performed on children under the age of 18.
Here are my top tips on how to help look after your little one’s teeth;
- Bring babies to your dental appointments ideally after the age of 6 months so they can get used to the environment. Children who only attend the dentist when they are in pain or require treatment, will associate pain with the dentist which will only contribute to anxiety and phobia.We are here to help make visiting the dentist as fun as possible for children. Yes, we still give stickers!At a suitable age, fluoride varnish can be applied to your children’s teeth to prevent caries. This will usually be done every 6 months.
- Get your babies used to having their gums brushed and to the taste of toothpaste. Ideally as soon as teeth come through, they should be brushed. Use a small headed toothbrush and a toothpaste which contains fluoride. Fluoride is crucial in the reduction of caries (cavities).For children under the age of 3, use a smear of toothpaste no less than 1000ppm of fluoride.For children aged 3-6, use a pea sized amount of 1350-1500ppm of fluoride for maximum protection. They don’t have use a branded ‘children’s toothpaste’. The family tube in the bathroom will have the right amount of fluoride for them.
Did you know that the different coloured bristles in the middle of your children’s toothbrush head represents the amount of toothpaste you should be using?
- Ensure toothbrushing is done 2 x daily, at least once before bedtime. Toothbrushing should be assisted for younger children and at least supervised until the age of 7/8.I have a toddler and I understand how traumatic toothbrushing can be at times. Try to start from an early age and perseverance is essential. You will have good and bad days. Make toothbrushing a part of a daily routine and brush together if time allows. Make it a fun activity using aids such as flashing toothbrushes, egg timers, toothbrushing apps (Oral B have a good one) etc.Encourage little ones to spit out any excess toothpaste. Rinsing with water after toothbrushing reduces its effects.
- Long term use of a dummy can cause changes in the structure of the mouth and how the teeth grow and develop. Cross-bites and overbites are common risks associated with use of a dummy. Children should ideally be weaned off by the age of 1.
SUGAR – high sugar intake can lead to dental caries (cavities).
Limit frequency of meals and snacks. Sugary food kept in the mouth for long periods (i.e. sweets, sugary drinks, sticky foods) can lead to decay.
Restricting sugary foods to mealtimes allows the saliva to naturally wash away the acid produced, before the breakdown of enamel.
Never put juice or sugary drinks in a bottle. Always encourage children to drink water or milk
Avoid sugary snacks – choose healthy, nutritional alternatives
As parents, we play a vital role in introducing a healthy diet and good daily oral hygiene regime to our children which they can continue into adulthood.
PREVENTION is the key. Healthy baby teeth will give way to healthy adult teeth and are an important part of your child’s growth and development.
Get in contact to ensure you are up to date with your child’s 6 monthly dental checks which are free on NHS.