How to Help Your Children Brush Their Teeth
Children Often Find it Hard to Brush Their Teeth Properly.
It’s common for children to have difficulties brushing their teeth properly — many find it boring, or even uncomfortable. Getting them to brush their teeth at all can be awkward, and getting them to concentrate and brush their teeth for an entire two minutes can be a real challenge; two minutes is an extremely long time to a young child.
How Your Children Should Be Brushing Their Teeth.
Just like adults, children need to brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. The two minutes recommended brushing time is a minimum, not a maximum — your child should be brushing as long as they need to, in order to ensure their mouth is completely clean.
You need to start brushing their teeth as soon as their first tooth breaks through. Start with just a small smear of toothpaste and a baby toothbrush, increasing the amount of toothpaste as they get older and more teeth erupt.
It is crucial that right from the start you coat every tooth in toothpaste to strengthen it and protect it against decay — if you miss a tooth, your child is at significantly more risk of decay, which causes painful toothache and may lead to eating difficulties.
Make sure you watch your child closely until they are around seven or eight, or until you are sure that they are brushing properly.
Using the Right Equipment.
Your child should be using a medium brush that is the right size for their mouth and should be brushing with a minty, not fruity toothpaste — the best we’ve found is Maclean’s Milk teeth. Fruity toothpaste help to foster a ‘sweet tooth’ and make it hard for your child to progress to mint toothpaste as they get older. One piece of equipment that every child should have for brushing their teeth is a two-minute egg timer. This gives them a visual guide as to how long they need to brush and makes brushing a little more fun. For older children, electric toothbrushes are ideal.
Making Sure Your Children’s Diet Is Appropriate.
Mums know that most children have a sweet tooth, and that sugar is the main cause of decay in children (and adult) teeth. But did you know the main source? Surprisingly, it’s not chocolate or sweets (although those should be limited too) but fizzy drinks. There is more sugar in a can of fizzy drink than there is in a chocolate bar — with 36g of sugar per can, one can of cola exceeds the new adult recommended limit of 30g and is far higher than the recommended limit for children. Ideally, your children should only be drinking water and milk.
Never let your child sleep with a bottle in their mouth. As well as being a choking hazard, without having food or anything else to absorb or dislodge it, the lactose in the milk will stay on their teeth until morning, resulting in decay. You shouldn’t worry about lactose in day-to-day life; the sugar level is very low and the benefits high.
You should also be watching out for sugary drinks in disguise — drinks such as Yazoo and Innocent have a similar sugar content to fizzy drinks but give the impression of being healthy.
Dry Brushing — the Best Technique for Your Children and for You.
Dry brushing is the best way for both children and adults to clean their teeth. It may feel a little odd but it is the best way to increase the level of fluoride that the teeth are exposed to during and after brushing. Fluoride helps to make you and your children’s teeth stronger and more able to withstand sugar acids and overall decay.
When your child has finished brushing, they should always spit out any leftover toothpaste. But make sure they don’t rinse their mouth, as this washes away the protective fluoride.
When Should You First Take Your Child to the Dentist?
You should be taking your baby with you to the dentist on your first dental checkup after they are born — and as many pregnant women are prone to dental inflammation (also known as pregnancy gingivitis) you should be seeing the dentist more regularly throughout pregnancy.
Many parents make the mistake of waiting until their child has all their teeth (at around three years old) — by then it’s often too late to provide the crucial foundational advice parents need.
Your dentist is there to give you the advice and support you need as a parent. They should be happy to answer any questions you have, and inform you about any extra treatment your child may need.
***This is a General post***