It’s really important to take good care of children’s teeth. The milk teeth are designed to fall out, but if they are lost prematurely, this can cause developmental and orthodontic problems, as well as increasing the risk of losing the adult teeth earlier than expected. Oral health problems, such as decay and abscesses, can also be very painful for children and they can affect their concentration at school, as well as their mood and their general wellbeing. The good news is that gum disease and decay are easily preventable.
Here are 7 easy ways to take care of your child’s teeth:
- Start from an Early Age: You can start caring for your child’s teeth before they even reach the age of 1 year old. As soon as their teeth start to erupt, use a soft-bristled brush to gently clean their teeth and wipe their gums. As soon as they start to show an interest in the toothbrush, encourage them to hold the brush and teach them how to use the brush to clean their teeth.
- Supervise Brushing: Supervising brushing is essential to make sure that your child cleans their teeth properly. Even after children have learned to brush their teeth, they tend to skip through the process very quickly and just glide over the surfaces of their teeth. Supervising is a way of making sure they do a thorough job.
- Set a Good Example: Children learn most things from the people around them, so set a good example and brush teeth together as a family. Put some music on to make sure that everybody brushes for the recommended time (most songs last for 2-3 minutes, perfect for brushing along to!) and make teeth cleaning more fun.
- Stay Up to Date with Dental Checks: Dental checks are really important for children and adults and children should start seeing their dentist on a regular basis from the age of 12-18 months. Check-ups are important for a number of reasons; they enable Dentists to monitor the child’s oral health development and spot any issues as early as possible and they also enable children to get used to going to the dentist and spending time at the surgery. Check-ups only last a few minutes and they are available free of charge on the NHS if you live in England.
- Limit Sugary Treats: Many children consume a lot more sugar than the recommended intake, and this is contributing to high levels of decay. Sweet foods, such as cakes, sweets and biscuits should be treats; they should not form an integral part of a child’s diet. As well as increasing the risk of dental problems, sugary foods also contribute to an increased risk of diabetes and obesity and behavioural problems. It is particularly important to avoid sugary foods and drinks between meals, as this increases the number of acid attacks on the tooth enamel.
- Look out for Food Labels: Even the healthiest looking products can harbour hidden dangers, so always take a minute to read labels and look at the traffic light symbols. A study showed that shop-bought fruit juice and smoothies, for example, contained the same amount of sugar as multiple biscuits and doughnuts. Try to make smoothies at home and always dilute fruit juice.
- Give Your Child Milk: Milk has a host of benefits for children and it is a much healthier alternative to fizzy pop and sports drinks. Milk is a good source of calcium, which helps to build and maintain strong teeth and bones and it is also alkaline, which helps to neutralise acids in the mouth to reduce the risk of enamel erosion and cavities. Try to avoid flavoured milk, as this usually contains added sugar.
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