A Parent”s Guide To Dental Care
Nobody wants bad teeth. Poor oral maintenance can lead to gum disease, bad breath and a lack of self-confidence later on in life. Introducing good dental habits early can ensure that your kids don’t grow up to have any of these problems and that they keep a pearly white smile to be proud of. Here are just a few ways to look after your kids’ teeth.
Choosing a toothbrush and toothpaste
Children that haven’t developed their adult teeth yet need to use a specialist toothbrush and toothpaste in order to protect their more sensitive and fragile milk teeth.
Kids should first use a small toothbrush with soft bristles. Hard bristles may damage the enamel. Getting your child to choose their toothbrush can often make them more enthusiastic about brushing time – there are lots of creatively shaped brushes for children that make brushing more fun.
Avoid high strength fluoride toothpaste for children under 6 and stick to low-strength fluoride toothpaste instead. That said be aware of children’s toothpaste brands that have less than 1,350 ppm of fluoride (this will usually be detailed on the back of the packet) – these kinds of toothpaste do not have enough fluoride to effectively clean your kids’ teeth and may simply be branded on tasting nice. For babies under 18 months, just use water to brush their teeth.
Certain products can make tooth-cleaning easier. Disclo-gel is a pink liquid that when rinsed around the mouth shows where the plaque is, making it easier to clean. Fluoride varnish and sealants can also protect milk teeth and adult teeth from decay as they are coming through. Apply these products yourself rather than letting your child do it. When it comes to flossing, don’t let your child do this without being shown how first.
Starting up a brushing regime
Kids should be encouraged to brush their teeth twice a day, morning and night, for two minutes. Start by brushing their teeth for them (you can use a soft toothbrush from 12 months), and encourage them to spit out toothpaste but not rinse out with water as this will remove the fluoride.
Eventually, you can start to let them brush their own teeth, but you should ideally supervise them up until the age of 7/8 years old to make sure that they’re brushing correctly. Get them to brush in front of a mirror so that they can see what they’re doing. Don’t allow them to run around whilst brushing teeth – many kids have been known to choke on toothbrushes by falling over whilst brushing teeth.
There are apps such as Brush DJ that can make tooth brushing time more fun. These apps use a timer and music that will make your kids more willing to brush for the whole two-minute duration. As mentioned before, a special kids’ toothbrush that they chose themselves may prompt them to enjoy brushing time more.
Keeping on top of their diet
Sugary snacks are the biggest culprit for causing bad teeth. Many of us can overfeed our kid’s sweets and sugary drinks as a way of controlling their behavior but this can affect their oral hygiene for life.
Sugary soft drinks should be limited. Fizzy drinks are particularly bad for our teeth, as the sugar combined with the fizz corrodes our enamel at a faster rate. Many squash drinks, however, can be bad too as these are full of sugar. Try to encourage kids to drink more water and milk instead.
Milk, in particular, is great for children’s teeth as it is a rich source of calcium, which is essential for bone growth and repair. A kid that drinks a lot of milk will be less prone to cavities and decay. If your child is lactose intolerant, there are calcium sweets and supplements for kids that can give them their fix.
Crunchy foods such as carrots and apples are brilliant for helping with cleaning teeth throughout the day, which is a reason why they are often a staple of kids’ lunch boxes. However, be aware of other popular lunch box foods that could, in fact, be packed with sugar.
Kids’ lunch meats such as hams can often be loaded with sugar to make them more appealing to children, even if they don’t taste particularly sweet. Many loaves of bread can also be packed with sugar without us knowing – the sweetness is offset by the bitterness of the wheat germ. On top of this, crisps can be a high source of sugar.
Try to limit snacking on sugary foods throughout the day. This involves sweets, crisps, and ice creams. Kids may get used to having these sugary snacks often, which could develop a sugar addiction that continues later on in life. Get kids to drink water with sugary snacks as this will help cleanse the palette and stop sugar sitting on teeth for hours and causing corrosive damage to enamel.
Fruit may offer a more natural source of sugar that is less corrosive to teeth. Try to introduce more fruit such as oranges and apples as opposed to processed sugary foods like chocolates and chewy sweets. Some kids may prefer chopped fruit in bags that requires less hard work to get into.
Make processed sugary snacks a treat for good behavior and disallow them if your kid misbehaves – some parents will wrongly offer their children sugary snacks every time they throw a tantrum as a way of diffusing the situation.
Fixing up wonky teeth
Many kids will develop wonky teeth or gaps. This can be due to a variety of reasons. Sucking on a thumb or a dummy can develop bucked teeth or an overbite. Some kids meanwhile can develop wonky teeth as adult teeth come through irregularly and push other teeth out of the way.
A dentist may be needed to remove teeth in the case of certain overcrowded mouths. You then may need to find an orthodontist in your city to fit a brace that can straighten up the teeth. Shop around for prices and read reviews so that you know you’re getting the best orthodontic care for your money.
Children can’t get braces fitted until all of their adult teeth come through, which will lead many parents to wait until their child gets to adolescence. After having a brace fitted, your child may be required to wear a retainer at night to stop the teeth returning to their original form – this is worth enforcing to stop the good work from being undone.
Visiting the dentist regularly
It’s important to keep on top of regular dentist check-ups for your child. These will notify you of any treatments that may be needed. Dentists will also be able to tell if your child has not been brushing your teeth properly and give advice on a proper routine.
You should first visit a dentist once your first child’s milk teeth appear. It’s worth opening up your child’s mouth regularly beforehand so that they get used to the feeling of people poking around in their mouth. Also, try to reinforce a feeling of fun when visiting the dentist so that they are not a place of dread. For some parents that are scared of visiting the dentist, this phobia can rub off on their children and then prevent kids from visiting the dentist in the future.
In many places around the world, children are entitled to free dental care. You may be informed via letter or email as to when you should make your next appointment – don’t ignore these reminders.
Making use of dental freebies
Toothbrushes need to be replaced ideally every three months. After this time bristles will get damaged and tooth brushing will be less effective. You can often save money on kids’ toothbrushes by getting into online couponing where you may win free giveaways.
There are lots of coupon sites out there – signing up to these sites may allow you all kinds of discounts and freebies when it comes to kids’ stuff. You should also check if your dentist offers any promotions that could save you money on dental gear. I hope this Parent’s Guide helps you