Whilst good dental care is a vital part of a child’s healthy development, recent figures show that a worrying number of children aren’t receiving the level of care that they need to grow up with a happy and healthy smile.
Recent data collected by Public Health England shows that tooth extractions are still the most common hospital procedure for children. In nearly nine out of ten cases, these extractions are as a result of preventable tooth decay. In addition to these statistics, the Faculty of Dental Surgery found that 57.7% of children between one and four and 41.4% of children up to 17 didn’t see an NHS dentist last year.
To help your children develop good dental care habits for life, here are our top kid’s oral health tips.
Make visiting the dentist a normal part of life
By taking your kids to the dentist as early as possible, you help to get them into the habit of seeing their dentist regularly. Whilst we recommend taking your children along to your own dental appointments even before they have developed their own teeth, once a child has their first tooth, it’s time to book them in for their own visit. At the latest, children should visit the dentist before their first birthday.
By booking dental appointments for your child twice a year, they will soon view this as a normal part of life. Meanwhile, your dentist will be able to keep a close eye on how your child’s teeth are developing.
You can prepare your child for their dental appointments by reading them children’s stories about visiting the dentist.
Brush your baby’s teeth
As soon as your baby’s first tooth emerges, it’s time to start the routine of brushing twice a day. By brushing once in the morning and again before bed time, this becomes a natural part of the day for your baby as they grow.
It’s often best to brush a baby’s teeth while they are lying down, with their head close to you. While brushing, gently use your finger to lift their lip so that you can see and reach better, and make sure to stay close and use eye contact to make your child feel safe. Specialist toothbrushes are available for babies and toddlers.
Introduce tooth friendly food
As well as a lack of dental appointments, many issues with children’s teeth are as a result of sugary, acidic foods and drinks. It’s important to limit how many sweets and fizzy drinks children are exposed to and to encourage them to make healthy food choices. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts and cheese are much better for teeth and gums than chocolates and sweets.
We recommend making health foods convenient, by keeping pre-prepared foods such as chopped up fruit or vegetables and cubes of cheese available for when they are hungry for a snack. Sugary or starchy foods are best eaten at mealtimes, reducing their potential to lead to tooth decay and cavities.
Let your child choose their toothbrush
A great way of making dental care fun is by letting your child choose their toothbrush. Many colourful designs are available from the best oral health care brands. By allowing them to choose a design with their favourite cartoon character or their favourite colour, you help to make brushing your child’s teeth an enjoyable experience.
Brush your teeth together
It’s important to supervise how your children brush their teeth, so why not do it together. This helps you to set a good example and make sure your children are using the proper technique to look after their teeth and gums. If you aren’t sure about how your children should be brushing and flossing their teeth, you can ask your dentist for advice.
If you have questions about the importance of oral health care for children, or would like to request an appointment for your child, please call us on 020 7091 0677 or contact us online.