Caring for children’s oral health

Curly Haired Girl Brushing Teeth

Healthy teeth and gums start in early childhood.  If young children’s oral health is protected from the offset, then they are more likely to continue to enjoy good oral and general health into adulthood.  This guide explains how parents can help look after their teeth with the help of the dentist in Tunbridge Wells and at home.

Dentist Showing a Dental Tool to Patient

Dental check-ups

It is recommended to take children to visit the dentist as early as possible.  Ideally, they should start having check-ups around a year old.  Aside from enabling the dentist to do a quick check to make sure that the teeth and gums are developing as they should, this is also an opportunity to establish a routine.

The child who has been to regular appointments with the dentist for check-ups for as long as they can remember is much less likely to develop any fear or nervousness about visiting.  These appointments also help to set a pattern that will hopefully last a lifetime.

If a child is a little unsure about having their teeth examined, then the parent can help by making an appointment for themselves at the same time.  If they go first, and let the child see them lying back in the chair and having a dental inspection whilst appearing relaxed, then the child is much more likely to adopt a relaxed approach too.

Be mindful of milk

Many children of all ages drink milk before going to bed, especially little ones.  It is important that the teeth are brushed after having milk and before going to bed.  If this does not happen, then natural sugars in the milk are allowed to sit on the teeth overnight.  This can cause cavities and result in the teeth being less robust than they should be.

Limit juice

Drinking juice as the main beverage throughout the day is damaging to children’s oral health because of the sugar content.  Fizzy drinks can erode the enamel of the teeth, so are not a better choice.  It is a good idea to establish a routine of drinking water most of the time, with juice as an occasional treat to be enjoyed with meals.  An added advantage of this is that most tap water contains fluoride which helps to prevent cavities and maintain the enamel of the teeth.

Brush

As with adults, it is important to brush their teeth twice per day.  It is important to use a toothpaste that is age appropriate, and to follow the instructions of only using a pea sized amount.  The brush should be soft bristled for younger children, and parents should do the brushing until they have learned how to do it thoroughly by themselves.

Some people encourage their children to rinse with water after brushing.  This can be damaging for the health of their teeth and gums because it rinses away the toothpaste.  When the toothpaste is left to sit on the teeth, it continues to help protect them.  Children should be advised to spit after they have cleaned their teeth and not rinse with water or anything else.

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