Kids and oral hygiene
Tooth decay in children is 5 times more common than asthma. More than 40% of children experience tooth decay before the time they reach pre-school and decay on milk teeth makes the chance of decay on adult teeth far more likely. That is why it is crucial that parents instil good dental hygiene habits such as brushing and flossing early on to help put their children on the path to a healthy smile.
As we know, brushing and flossing help to remove bacteria and food from teeth that can build up throughout the day and in between meals. The same is true for children. These healthy dental hygiene habits assist in preventing cavities and gingivitis and reduce bad breath.
Teach your child good habits
Lead by example. Showing your children that brushing teeth is important by brushing your own teeth in their presence will help to set a good example. Make teeth brushing an activity that is done together.
Make it fun. Brushing teeth can be a bore, but there are plenty of products on the market that will encourage children to brush their teeth such as funky toothbrushes and toothpastes. Allow your child to select their own toothbrush (ensure it is, in fact, a children’s toothbrush that they select. Some toothbrushes even play music! You can also allow them to choose their own toothpaste. There are plenty of ‘kid friendly’ toothpastes that are easily accessible at a variety of pharmacies. Some come in flavours such as strawberry and can depict your child’s favourite cartoon characters on the tube. It is best to allow your child to use kids’ toothpaste as this does not usually contain fluoride. This is because fluoride should not be swallowed. Parents should control how much toothpaste children use on their toothbrush and supervise them to make sure they do not accidentally swallow it. Once children can spit and not swallow toothpaste, which is usually around ages 2 to 3, they can begin using fluoride toothpaste.
Supervise. If a child is 6 years old or younger, parents should help them brush their teeth twice a day. Let them try it first and then help them to reach the difficult places in the back of their mouths. You should also ensure that they use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush until they are about 6 years old.
The gum line. Teach one thing at a time. Once your child has the hang of brushing their teeth, teach them how to gently brush along the gum line. Show children how to position half of the toothbrush on their teeth and half on their gums to help prevent gingivitis.
Flossing. No, we’re not talking about that dance move kids are doing nowadays! We are talking about dental flossing which can indeed be done by children. Flossing picks are best for kids, though children under 10 may still need your help. In order to help them floss, stand behind the child with their head tilted back to get a better view of the teeth. Gently floss between each tooth.
Top tips for healthy teeth
Try to limit sugars and starches. Juice or other sweet drinks consumed from a bottle or sippy cup throughout the day or at bedtime can lead to tooth decay. It is preferable to give children water in between meals instead of juice to eliminate a consistent source of sugar for bacteria to grow.
You should also keep an eye on your child’s diet. Sugary snacks and sweets should be eaten in moderation. Give children a choice between two healthy snacks like cheese or fruit.
Your dentist can work with you to help ensure that your child has healthy strong teeth. Ensure that you schedule regular appointments for your child at the dentist. Your child should visit the dentist about every 6 months. Your dentist will also be able to help encourage good dental habits in your child as well as give you some valuable advice to help you keep your child’s teeth strong and healthy at home.