Did you know that tooth decay is the number one disease found in children? Here are five things your dentist wishes you knew to help you keep your little one’s teeth in the best condition possible!
- The importance of both brushing and flossing
Does teeth time get you and your child down? Does it dissolve into tantrum time, and leave you thinking it’s all just too hard? Surely those baby teeth aren’t that important, right? Sorry to say, but wrong. The habits your child forms in their earliest years will be with them for life, and the precedents set for their oral hygiene will affect them until they are old and grey.
We know brushing time can be a drag, but why not try putting their favourite song on and encouraging them to brush for the whole time while listening to the song, so there’s a positive part to the experience. Ideally you child needs to brush in circular movements for about two minutes both morning and night, as well as flossing to ensure any nasties don’t get stuck. If you can get them to brush for *most* of their favourite song, you’ll be getting close to that two minute mark! You could even invent a little dance to go with it.
It’s really important to ensure you’re overseeing this time and teaching your child proper cleaning techniques. Without supervision, many children will skip the brushing or at the very least miss half their mouth! If you’re not sure you’re doing it right, bring your child along to see us at Wahroonga Dental, and we can make sure.
- The links between oral health and overall health
We understand that life with children is incredibly busy! There’s school, play dates, after-school activities, general at-home tasks, and amongst all of that finding the hours to have quality time as a family. Going to the dentist is just a big drag, we know, but your child’s oral health is a seriously important issue which can have very real and big impacts on their health later in life. Did you know that there are proven links between gum disease and diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, lung disease, and breast cancer? It’s also thought to be associated with Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. When you look at the implications of your oral health on your overall health, it becomes clear why we tell you to visit every six months! Visiting the dentist is also the only way to adequately detect poor brushing technique, signs of decay and other dental concerns such as incorrect bites. Riding up and down in the chair is actually quite fun for our young visitors, and we make sure the visits are as enjoyable as possible to try and avoid your child developing an early dislike for our noble profession!
- That sugar is really, really bad for your child’s teeth
For some reason, a healthy diet is often overlooked when it comes to oral health, but it actually plays an extremely important role. It’s hard, we know, but we recommend avoiding giving your child foods with added sugars and limiting foods with naturally occurring sugars including juice and dried fruits. Unfortunately, sugars react with bacteria naturally present in the mouth to form acids which eat away at enamel and tooth structures forming cavities and decay. We know how hard it is to say no to a screaming toddler who wants sugar, but just reducing their sugar intake can have a big impact.
So what should they eat? We recommend a balanced diet with a range of fresh produce to give your child the best chance at strong, healthy teeth. Crunchy fruits and vegetables help to keep teeth clean between brushing and dairy help to make their teeth strong and durable.
- That toothbrush size does matter
It’s important to use the right toothbrush for your child. Toothbrushes which are too hard or too big could damage your child’s soft enamel and sensitive gums. Most toothbrush companies produce soft bristled and small-headed child toothbrushes and we recommend using one of these, following the age recommendations on the packet. They are usually in fun colours and often feature cartoon characters which are an added bonus for making teeth time more fun. If you are unsure or are having trouble choosing the right toothbrush, speak to us at your next check-up. We also recommend changing toothbrushes about every 3 months and after your child has been sick to avoid unnecessary bacteria in the mouth.
- The importance of mouthguards
If your child is involved in any sport, whether it is a full-contact sport or not, we recommend getting a custom-made mouthguard to protect their teeth. Mouthguards are your best defence against chips, cracks and even tooth loss. Without one, you are risking damage which can affect your child’s mouth and teeth development and make further dental work necessary in the future.