Getting your children to look after their teeth can be one of the toughest rules for a parent to enforce. It can be extremely difficult for little ones to grasp that it’s as much a part of health care as going to the doctor; add to that a widespread phobia of dentists, and a child’s love of sugary treats, and it feels like an uphill struggle!
The formative years are the most important where dental health is concerned. Problems left unchecked in childhood can cause serious issues years down the line. To teach your children to love and take care of their teeth, follow these tips…
Establish a regular tooth brushing routine
As NHS Choices makes clear, toothbrushing should begin as early as possible. Use fluoride toothpaste as soon as your child’s teeth first appear (usually six months, though it can vary).
Begin by using a soft brush at bath time, encouraging your child to try brushing themselves as they get older. This will help them to regard it as part of the ‘going to bed’ routine and ensure they never break the habit.
As they grow older, supervise to be certain that they’re doing it properly- don’t allow them to rush or waste toothpaste. For children aged between three and seven, a pea sized piece of toothpaste should be adequate.
Get them used to the dentist
Dentists can be frightening and confusing places for little ones. If your child shows signs of being afraid, it’s important not to convey any sense of fear- and don’t ask afterwards whether it hurt. Set a good example by being perfectly calm and controlled. Whatever you do, don’t give them sweets as a reward- this sends a thoroughly mixed message!
Enrol with a good family dentist as soon as possible, with plenty of experience of children and their particular problems. Manor Dentists help put nervous children at ease, and offer such preventative measures as braces and gum shields.
Monitor their diet
If your child’s diet is packed with sugar and acids, toothbrushing can only do so much. Keep sweets and fizzy drinks to the barest minimum, and certainly don’t provide them as snacks in the middle of the day. Keep an eye out for ‘hidden’ sugars in breakfast cereals and sauces. Fruit contains a high level of natural sugars- this too should be eaten in moderation.
Buy the right toothbrush
This isn’t as frivolous as it sounds. Experts agree that when it comes to fighting plaque, a soft bristled brush is best. Small headed brushes come highly recommended for being able to reach difficult areas, such as the back teeth.
Let your child choose a toothbrush they like and will positively enjoy using. Dental Shop offers an array of funky, charming designs for kids.
Use the right toothpaste
Children’s teeth have very different needs from adults. The chemicals contained in adult toothpaste are often too harsh; swallowing large amounts of fluoride while the teeth are still developing can cause a condition called fluorosis (a mottling of the tooth enamel). To prevent this from happening, only buy toothpaste especially formulated for children. Colgate and Aquafresh have highly regarded kids-only brands.