Parents know the importance of their children having healthy teeth and gums to prevent cavities, but it can be a challenge to know when and how to teach your children to look after their oral hygiene. Here is a helpful guide to help your children care for their teeth, so they can have a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.
1) Why is dental care for children so important?
A child’s first teeth play an important role to help children learn to talk, smile and eat, as well as keeping the jaw in the correct position for when their adult teeth emerge. So, children must learn to care for their teeth properly from an early age.
2) How does the dental cavity develop?
Without proper oral hygiene, your child risks developing cavities and gum disease. Cavities are caused by a reaction between bacteria on your child’s teeth and the food that they eat, which causes acid. If this acid is not washed away regularly, it erodes the protective enamel layer of the teeth and attacks the soft dentine in the centre, creating a hole.
3) How to prevent cavities in children?
You can prevent your child from developing cavities by establishing a good oral hygiene routine as early as possible, including regularly brushing their teeth and establishing healthy eating habits. Regular visits to their dentist, beginning when their first tooth erupts is also part of their preventative care.
4) How to keep children’s teeth safe and healthy?
The key to keeping your child’s teeth healthy is to start good habits as early as possible. Dentists recommend that you begin an oral hygiene routine with your child as soon as their first tooth comes in at around 6 – 8 months old. If you are unsure about how to create a good oral care routine for your child, call yourDentist in Canary Wharffor an appointment. The dental team can provide parent education on how to brush and floss your child’s teeth, choose a tooth-friendly diet and signs of dental issues to watch out for.
A) Brush teeth twice a day
For young babies, simply wiping the tooth with a clean, damp cloth and offering the child a few sips of water is enough to allow your child to become accustomed to looking after their teeth. Do the same routine in the morning after breakfast and again at night before bed to develop a consistent routine.
Once your child has developed enough coordination and communicative skills at around 12 – 18 months, you can introduce a toothbrush. Brushes with fun, cartoon characters can make teeth brushing time more appealing. Do not use toothpaste containing fluoride at this point; children at this age may have problems spitting out the toothpaste. Just use the toothbrush and water in the morning and at night.
After the age of 5, children can brush their teeth without swallowing the toothpaste, so you can introduce toothpaste with fluoride to help protect the enamel on their teeth from acid wear. Model the correct brushing technique as children learn best from their parents.
B) Choose healthy snacks
Your child’s diet can have a significant impact on the health of their teeth and gums. Regular snacking on foods high in sugar and carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, so it is important only to offer your child healthy meal and snack options.
Some snacks which can improve the health of your child’s teeth include:
- Cheese or yogurt
- Fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery or carrots
- Nuts, seeds and nut butter low in sugar and salt (however avoid whole nuts for children under 5)
C) Drink water or milk
Drinks high in sugar or acid damage the enamel of your child’s teeth. If your child must drink fruit juice, serve it alongside their meal as the increased saliva can help to protect their teeth. However, most of their daily liquid intake should come from water or milk.
Water not only properly hydrates their body but also helps to wash away bacteria and food residue from their teeth, while milk provides their teeth with calcium, increases saliva production and changes the pH of their mouth to avoid acid wear.
D) Flossing your child’s teeth
Between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, as your child has more teeth, they will start to fit more closely together. It is at this point that you should introduce flossing into your child’s oral care routine.
To begin with, you will need to floss for them until they develop the dexterity to floss properly themselves. By the age of 10, they should be able to floss their teeth properly on their own. Use flexible, soft floss to avoid damaging their gums.
E) Regular dental check-up for children
Take your child to see the dentist when their first baby tooth erupts, or by the age of 12 months, so the dentist can check the condition of the child’s gums and position of the teeth. Always talk positively about the dentist to avoid putting your child in a stressful situation.
Starting good daily habits for your child is an important step to maintaining their oral health, along with teaching them how to make healthy food choices. If you want to learn more about how to care for your child’s teeth or establishing an oral hygiene routine, talk with your dentist.