1. At home maintenance
We all need to brush our teeth twice a day, once in the morning after breakfast and once at night just before bedtime. Children are no exception. Brushing removes a build-up of bacteria, germs and plaque that decay the teeth and lead to further damage. Things like tooth decay and gum disease are often caused by poor oral hygiene, and if left untreated these can become serious health risks. However, brushing alone does not adequately clean between the teeth, where a lot of bacteria tends to build up, so it’s important to floss every day as well. By flossing, you are able to reach the bacteria and plaque in all the places brushes simply cannot reach.
You should start familiarising children with brushing as soon as their first tooth erupts. Special children’s toothbrushes with smaller heads and extra soft bristles are available for these transition years. If you can encourage a healthy oral routine now, then your child will be better equipped to carry out these routines in their teenage and adult life.
We know it can often be tricky to get children excited about brushing teeth! We recommend trying to make at-home maintenance fun by hanging a brushing chart in the bathroom to be ticked off twice a day, novelty toothbrushes, or even making a game to brush for the length of a popular song.
View some printable resources here.
2. Regular check- ups
Regularly visiting the dentist is an important part of maintaining healthy teeth, throughout childhood and into adulthood. By the time a child is about three years old, they should have all of their baby teeth. Even though baby teeth fall out it is still extremely important to have regular check-ups with the dentist throughout this phase as they lay the foundation for adult teeth.
Your child’s dentist will evaluate the growth of teeth, positioning and overall oral health as well as identify any signs of decay or damage. Sometimes, dentists can even identify issues early, before they start to cause any major trouble. These check-ups can also give an indication of how your child’s teeth will grow in. This is a necessary part of maintaining our child’s oral health.
3. Food and drink
Food and drink play a very important part in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Bacteria found in the mouth feeds on sugar from foods or drinks, forming acidic plaque that erodes the hard outer layer of teeth (enamel) and leads to decay. This is why lots of sugary foods and drinks, like lollies, soft drinks, fruit juices, biscuits and chocolates are damaging for your teeth.
We recommend snacking on crunchy vegetables, dairy with no added sugar such as cheese and natural yoghurt. Water is also always the best option for drinks as even juice often contains added sugars.
Making these snacks into fun shapes or characters may help your child to be more enthusiastic about eating healthier foods. It is also important to educate your child as to the benefits of vegetables for teeth and the body overall.