Deborah Royan, the patient Care Co-ordinator and qualified Dental Nurse from 32 Whites shares her experiences on children’s oral health and gives some top tips on how to ensure your child looks after their teeth. With high sugar diets and a surprising amount of children not being registered at the dentist, we are seeing increasing numbers of children with decaying teeth. Deborah explains: Unfortunately we have met young children with holes in their teeth, complaining of toothache. The solution is for them is to have fillings in their milk teeth but our job is to educate children and their parents to ensure that this can be avoided in the first place.
Taking your child to the dentist for the first time can be a nerve wracking experience for everyone. Especially if the parents have their own phobia of going to the dentist, children may pick up on this and have an issue with it too. Our advice is to make sure you take your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth start to appear. Early visits really help with their confidence and help children to get used to the surroundings. Whilst they are getting used to the environment of the dental practice it is also a good opportunity for your child to get to know the dentist. You can also encourage your child to accompany you on your appointments so they visit the practice more regularly. Parents should make visiting the dentist a positive experience. When they are very little we encourage children to sit on their parent’s knee and as they get older we make sitting in the dentist’s chair fun.
By starting appointments as soon as possible, the dentist can help to prevent early decay and identify any problems at an early stage. We talk to parents and children about how to look after their teeth and also think about their diet and the impact this can have. Obvious foods like sweets, biscuits and fizzy drinks should be avoided but there is also hidden high sugar content in dried fruit, cereals and even fruit juice.
Make sure you take your child for regular dental appointments, but also maintain good oral hygiene and teeth cleaning routines at home too. Deborah explains that a regular teeth cleaning routine is essential for good dental health and gives her top tips on how to keep your child’s teeth healthy with a daily routine:
• Start brushing your baby’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first milk tooth breaks through
• Make sure your child doesn’t eat or lick the toothpaste
• Brush your child’s teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, once just before bedtime and once in the morning
• Make brushing their teeth as much fun as possible, give your child an egg timer so they can see when they have achieved two minutes of brushing
• Encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste, but not to rinse with lots of water
• Guide your child’s hand to make sure they are cleaning each tooth properly and use a mirror so they can see exactly where they are brushing their teeth
• Supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, by brushing their teeth yourself or by watching how they do it
• By the age of eight, your child should be able to brush their teeth themselves, although it is still a good idea to watch them and guide them
• Once they are brushing their own teeth, you can use disclosing tablets to check your child’s teeth are properly clean or those that they might be missing out
Providing your child with a good cleaning routine and educating them about their oral hygiene and health is the best start you can provide for them, Deborah concludes. It will also help them look after their adult teeth when they grow up, ensuring they maintain a happy and confident smile.