A good tooth cleaning routine is very important for keeping little ones teeth healthy. There are several simple tips that can help keep your children free from decay.
- Strat brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they come through. It is very important to use a fluoride toothpaste as this what helps protect their teeth.
- Children of all ages can use family toothpaste, as long as it contains 1,350-1,500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride.
- If your child doesn’t like the minty taste of toothpaste there are several fruit flavored children’s toothpastes on the market. Be aware that some children’s toothpaste do not contain enough fluoride and to make sure it has the correct amount for the highest protection.
- Children under the age of six who don’t have tooth decay can use a lower-strength toothpaste, but make sure it contains at least 1,000ppm fluoride.
- When children are under 3 use a smear of toothpaste and aged 3-6 should use a pea sized amount.
- Take your child to the dentist for regular 6 monthly check ups.
- It is recommended to start taking your child to the dentist as soon as they have to teeth to get them used to the environment and get into good habits.
- When you visit the dentist always make it a positive experience to prevent them worrying about it the future.
- Brush your child’s teeth for about two minutes twice a day: once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day.
- Encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste, but not to rinse with lots of water. Rinsing with water after tooth brushing will wash away the fluoride and make it less effective.
- Supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, either by brushing their teeth yourself or, if they brush their own teeth, by watching how they do it. From the age of seven or eight, they should be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea to watch them now and again to make sure they brush properly and for about two minutes.
- Try to encourage your child to brush his or her own teeth to practice the right technique.
- Use a mirror to help your child to see where they need to brushing.
- Make tooth brushing a fun time of the day. You could try using an egg timer so that you child can time themselves or with novelty toothbrushes etc.
Fissure sealants can be done once your child’s permanent back teeth have started to come through (usually at the age of about six or seven) to protect them from decay. This is where the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are covered with a special thin plastic coating to keep germs and food particles out of the grooves. The sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years.
Fluoride varnish can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth. It involves painting a varnish that contains high levels of fluoride on to the surface of the tooth every six months to prevent decay. It works by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. From the age of three, children should be offered fluoride varnish application at least twice a year. Younger children may also be offered this treatment if your dentist thinks they need it.
Sugar needs to be kept to a minimum to prevent tooth decay particularly before bed when saliva flow lessens. The best snacks are fruit and raw vegetables. Try tangerines, bananas, pieces of cucumber or carrot sticks. Other good snacks include toast, rice cakes and plain popcorn. Dried fruit is high in sugar and can be bad for teeth, so only ever give it to children with meals – for instance, as a dessert – and never as a snack between meals.
Fizzy drinks can contain large amounts of sugar, which will increase the risk of tooth decay. Fizzy drinks (both those containing sugar and sugar-free or “diet” versions) also contain acids that can erode the outer surface of the tooth. These should be avoided completely. The best drinks for children over one year old are plain still water or plain milk. Unsweetened juices contain sugars and acids so try to restrict your child to no more than one of fruit juice each day and only at mealtimes. If your child is thirsty, it’s better to give them water than to encourage a taste for sweet drinks. Try to avoid giving babies fruit-flavored baby juices, and never give them in feeding bottles. Fruit juice should not be given to babies under six months.
If unsure it is always best to ask your dentist about the best toothpaste for your child’s age and what foods to avoid in your child’s diet.