As the parent of a child you have many responsibilities relating to your child’s health and welfare. One aspect of care that should be a priority is looking after your child’s teeth. Dental health is something that is easily overlooked, but studies show that the condition of our teeth and health of our mouth is linked to the development of some chronic and serious diseases including diabetes, liver disorder, kidney function problems and cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, it is pretty easy to take care of your kid’s teeth for him, and to teach him how to take responsibility for his dental health in the long term.
You wouldn’t necessarily think that a habit developed as a baby could have a long-term detrimental effect, but that is exactly what pacifiers and thumb-sucking create. Both can damage the shape of your child’s mouth and developing teeth, even if they stop at a fairly young age.
As hard as it might be, we recommend that you try and limit your kid’s reliance on either of these as much as possible.
Ideally, your child should have their first dental appointment before their first birthday, or shortly after their teeth have started to erupt. This will not only help your kid get used to visiting the dentist so that they do not develop a fear of the service, but it will also enable our dentist to keep a close eye on the development of your child’s teeth from the very beginning of their life.
Early dental preventative treatment has also been shown to drastically reduce the likelihood of your child experiencing pain and suffering, and you receiving expensive bills!
You don’t need to wait for your infant to have teeth to start brushing. Gum health is extremely important, and you can start cleaning your kid’s gums using a soft toothbrush or washcloth from just a few weeks of age. As soon as his teeth begin to appear, start brushing using the smallest amount of toothpaste. Flossing may be trickier but can actually be started as soon as your baby has two teeth next to one another!
As your child gets older, encourage him to brush his own teeth, using a timer to ensure he brushes for the recommended two minutes twice a day. An electric toothbrush can make the job much easier for him too. Once your kid reaches around 8 years of age, you may also be able to teach him how to floss, although you can expect him to need a good few months to get to grips with the technique.
‘Bottle decay’ is a very real problem and occurs when a child is put down to sleep with a bottle of milk (regular or formula) or juice. The sugars in the bottle cling to your baby’s teeth and gums, enabling bacteria to cause tooth decay. If your little one really won’t settle without a bottle, make sure it only contains water.
Sugar and tooth decay go hand in hand, and unfortunately, many children do not have their sugar levels adequately regulated by their parents and consume a large amount of high-sugar foods and drinks as part of their diet. There are also many hidden sugars, such as those in fresh fruit juice. While you might think this is a healthy drink to give your kid, too much fruit juice can speed up the rate at which tooth decay occurs. We recommend that you encourage your child to choose water and healthy snacks wherever possible.
While we know that most children will struggle with some aspects of dental care until they reach their teenage years, it is important that you teach your kid that he needs to take responsibility for the health of his teeth. In doing so, he will hopefully build a habit that will ensure that he can maintain his oral wellbeing and his natural teeth for as long as possible.
When your child remembers to brush his teeth of his own accord, give him plenty of praise. You may need to supervise or help with brushing but giving him ownership of the responsibility is an important step.
If you would like further tips on taking care of your child’s teeth, please contact us and speak to our dedicated and professional team.