How To Best Look After Children’s Teeth
For a few years now there has been negative press around the condition of our children’s teeth. Great oral hygiene is all about education and routine, not shaming and finger-pointing so here is our guide on how to best look after children’s teeth.
A balanced diet is an important way to maintain health for us all, especially children. There are obvious foods and drinks to avoid, like fizzy pops and mountains of sweets. But, did you know that some healthier alternatives can be just as damaging to children’s teeth when eaten regularly?
When consumed regularly, fresh fruit juice contains high levels of acid which can wear down enamel leaving teeth less protected against decay. Picking at dried fruit throughout the day can also be damaging to teeth. Fresh fruit contains water, which dilutes the natural sugars and reduces any damage to teeth. When a fruit is dried what remains is pure juice, which can be just as damaging to teeth as sweets. This does not mean all dried fruit and juices should be avoided! The golden rule of ‘everything in moderation’ should be remembered here. Snacking on dried fruit every day is going to cause a problem, but as an occasional treat, it’s a great alternative to processed snacks!
As soon as a child’s first tooth appears, it’s important to start regular teeth cleaning routine (brush at least twice a day). The NHS recommend cleaning children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the teeth appear in their mouths. There is also no need to buy special ‘children’s toothpaste’ as often the formula doesn’t contain enough fluoride to protect teeth at all. A child up to the age of 6 with no signs of tooth decay should be using toothpaste containing at least 1,000ppm of fluoride. A child age seven or over can use regular ‘family’ toothpaste containing higher levels of fluoride, usually 1,350 – 1,500ppm.
According to NHS guidelines, for children below the age of three, just a smear of toothpaste on the brush is enough to keep their teeth in good health. For children three years or older, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is perfect!
You can start flossing children’s teeth from age 4 to remove particles of food which can turn to tartar that can only be removed by professional teeth cleaning.
Soothing with a dummy or a thumb is a perfectly normal, healthy, comforting part of childhood. 75-95% of infants suck their thumb and often causes no problems. It’s always a good idea to monitor a child’s habits, but also as important to not fret or cause distress by taking them away too soon.
Most of the time, when a child reaches the ages two to four years old they break the sucking habit on their own. So what signs of potential damage do you need to be looking out for?
Take note the ‘style of sucking’, passive, gentle sucking shouldn’t cause any cause for concern. However, sucking so hard on a thumb or a dummy that there is pressure can cause a problem with tooth alignment and the structure of the mouth. This is named ‘aggressive sucking’ and can be a sign that you may need to help your child break their habit before any damage is caused. You can read our tips on how to break the habit here.