Our teeth are unlike almost every other part of our body. Unlike our other organs, they don’t grow, regenerate or repair themselves, which means we need to take extra good care of them. But that care shouldn’t start as an adult, when your teeth have started to discolour. Good oral hygiene should start out early, giving you the strong foundation you need for healthy teeth.
Today, we’ve got 8 top tips to help keep your children’s teeth clean and healthy for years to come.
Start Good Habits Early
You don’t have to wait until your baby actually has teeth to get good oral hygiene started. While your baby is growing, it’s a good idea to gently clean their gums and any newly erupted first teeth after each feeding, so that no sugars or bacteria can cling to them and start to cause cavities. You can do this with a water soaked gauze pad or a clean, damp cloth. Avoid any scrubbing – instead just use a gentle wiping motion.
Brush With Care
When your baby’s teeth do come in, don’t leave them be. Once the worst of the teething pains have gone, start to gently brush them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush with the thinnest smear of toothpaste. Be careful not to aggravate the gums or put too much pressure on the teeth – just a light brushing motion will be more than enough to protect and clean their teeth during this delicate time.
Teach Your Children
At some point, your child will need to learn how to brush their own teeth, rather than getting you to do it for them. You can start teaching self-brushing as early as three, using a tiny amount of toothpaste and a soft bristled brush. Teach your child by showing them the motions, brushing their teeth lightly for them, and then getting them to repeat what you did. Modelling the correct technique is important, as this is the technique your child will use for the rest of their life. When your child is around six, they should be developing the dexterity to handle brushing by themselves, and then you can introduce things like flossing.
Baby bottle tooth decay is something a lot of new parents don’t know much about, and many more discount it since ‘baby teeth’ will fall out. But if you’ve ever had tooth decay or cavities, you know how much they hurt, so it’s worth preventing that pain in babies, even if it will just be temporary. The best way to do that is to not let your child go to sleep with a dummy or a bottle filled with anything but water. When teeth are frequently exposed to sugar-coating fluids (like formula or breast milk) for long periods, the potential for tooth decay increases dramatically.
Avoid Excess Sugar
Did you know that saliva takes a minimum of 30 minutes to neutralise the acidity and bacteria caused by sugars? That’s at least 30 minutes of sugar clinging to their teeth and eating away at the enamel. So if you allow your child to eat a sugary snack every hour, your child’s mouth will always be acidic, which greatly increases the chances of tooth decay developing.
Make Dentists Part Of The Routine
Dentists trips should form part of your child’s dental health routine from an early age. They should first see a dentist around the time of their first birthday, and regularly after that. This will help check for cavities and decay and teach the proper toothcare techniques, as well as for signs of developmental problems in your child quickly. This means you will be able to catch and treat issues quickly, as well as making your child comfortable with the dentist in the future.
Many adults have problems with going to the dentist. From the fear of pain to general anxiety around dentists and their offices, emotions can run high when it comes time for the annual dental check-up. But no matter how you feel, you need to try and not project those feelings of anxiety onto your child. Your anxieties can make them feel anxious too, and that will make getting dental treatment for them in the future a lot harder. Instead, encourage your child to discuss any fears they have about the dentist, and avoid using words like ‘hurt’ and ‘pain’ when talking about the dentist.
Childproof Your Home
Trips to the dentist don’t just happen for the annual check-up. In fact, research has shown that children under 7 sustain over half of dental injuries to their baby teeth while playing at home, in close proximity to furniture. Childproofing your home can help avoid some of these more serious and painful injuries (which can lead to deformation if not treated).
At Appledore, we encourage parents to bring their children in and discuss any fears they might have about visiting a dentist, as well as to explore dental hygiene and generally make taking care of their teeth fun. Our dentists are experts in dealing with children’s oral hygiene, and have spent time all over the world giving dental treatments to disadvantaged children in third world countries. If you want to know more, just get in touch with us today.