Good habits begin when we are young, so getting children into a routine for looking after their teeth is important.
Sugary drinks and snacks are the commonest cause of dental decay. This is the same for any adult. Children should avoid sweet food and drink especially between meals. Snacking allows a constant flow of sugary saliva over the teeth, which will damage them, and cause decay. It is best to allow children therefore to finish their snack all at once rather than to allow them a little at a time throughout the day. Sweets should not be used as a reward or bribery tool.
Be aware of hidden sugars in lots of food stuffs, such as baked beans and ketchup. Also labels on foods saying ‘no added sugar’ should be viewed with caution as there is still sugar present (sometimes in high concentration), but the manufacturer has not added any more.
Fizzy drinks, even the diet ones, need to be avoided as well. These are very acidic and this will cause the teeth to be worn away, like acid rain on some buildings! Even the fizzy waters have this problem.
Teething-babies normally start to get their teeth at 6 months. Baby teeth will continue to erupt until the age of 2-3 years. Every child is unique and these figures represent the average. Some children can become quite unwell during teething and may have a facial rash and quite often drool. Some children may develop a fever and diarrhoea. It is very important to keep a close eye on your child’s body temperature when a fever is present.
If a fever does occur ensure the child is kept cool, i.e. thin clothes, damp cloth to face and body, fan. Sugar free paracetamol and/or ibuprofen suspension can be given to ease the symptoms. Be aware of the dosage over any 24 hour period. Seek professional help if you are unable to control temperatures above 40 degrees or become more concerned. Keep your child hydrated by giving constant fluids and stick to a soft diet.
Many children seek comfort by sucking their fingers, thumbs or dummies. Unfortunately, if this habit continues past the early years it can effect the position and appearance of the adult teeth. Parents can play an active role by monitoring the habit and weaning children off the habit.
Many children suffer trauma to their teeth during sports. This can be a very painful experience and could result in permanent damage or loss of teeth. Sportguards offer superior protection by cushioning the blow to the teeth thus protecting both teeth and soft tissue ( lips, cheeks and gums). Most schools now insist on children wearing gumshields when playing sport. We can provide these, in a range of colours, to try to prevent damage. For those children undergoing orthodontic treatment, whose teeth are moving very rapidly, we have a range of specially designed gumshields to fit over their brace.
Oral hygiene is important in early years, to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Regular Dental check-ups help your dentist to help you prevent and treat decay before it causes cavities and toothache.
Children should start to visit the dental practice as young as possible, so bring them along with you to your check-ups. They may be too young for an examination but the visits helps to familiarise them with the surroundings, the smells, noise and most important they meet the dentist.
The examinations will be informal to start, a quick look using a dental mirror. Counting the teeth and looking for signs of decay. As the child’s confidence grows your dentist will carry out a more thorough examination.
The check up – The dentist will look at the following –
- Which teeth have erupted (come through the gum).
- Accessing the development of the jaw.
- Looking at the soft tissues (tongue, cheeks, lips and throat).
- Checking for cavities in the teeth.
- As the child gets older we will assess the how they bite together to check if orthodontics are required later on.
We give advice on preventive care
- Healthy diet.
- Brushing techniques.
- Fluoride treatments if necessary.
- Fissure sealants if there’s a high risk of cavities developing.
How to take care of your child‘s teeth
Oral hygiene starts as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts through the gum, this is around six months of age.
- Use a small and very soft child’s toothbrush and a rice sized amount of children’s tooth paste. As this contains less fluoride than adult tooth pastes; if you are unsure about the fluoride content please speak to your dentist or health visitor.
- Brush twice a day once in the morning and before bed, cleaning the teeth and the gum area. You will need to clean your child’s teeth or supervise until they are around 8 years old.
- Encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out but not to rinse with water as this reduces the effects of the fluoride.
- Do NOT allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle of milk, formula milk or any fruit juice as these have hidden sugars which will pool around the teeth as they sleep, leading to cavities.
- Limit the amount of sugars in your child’s diet. If they do have sugary snacks and drinks keep them to meal times only and give water and healthy snacks in between.
If your child is prone to tooth decay in their baby teeth your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment as this helps to strengthen the tooth surface. Then as the adult teeth erupt through the gum, it may be advised that a protective layer is painted onto the tooth’s biting surface, which is called ‘Fissure Sealants’