Children’s dental hygiene can be confusing and with children developing new teeth at a rapid rate, it can be a tricky to determine the best hygiene solutions for them. However, there are lots of simple things you can adopt into your child’s everyday routine that will make a big difference to their oral health, putting them in good stead for the future.
Routine and Early State Intervention!
The majority of children have braces between the ages of 11-14 years depending on their dental development. However, there are a small percentage of children that need early interceptive treatment/phase 1 so that when they have phase 2 orthodontics in their early teen years, the orthodontics is much easier. Thumb sucking, small lower or upper jaws or very protrusive upper front teeth are all common reasons as to why children require interceptive orthodontic treatment around the ages of 7-10 years old. For this reason, it is important to try and deter children from making a habit of thumb sucking or using dummies.
Orthodontics for children is extremely important as straighter teeth are easier to keep clean, reducing the risk of long term gum disease and dental decay. With the latest technology, your child now has several different brace options which are virtually invisible no longer something to be embarrassed of – from tooth coloured ceramic braces and clear Invisalign aligners (Invisalign Teen).
To kick start good habits, register your child with the dentist and ensure that you keep to their appointment slots. It is important for their dentist to keep track of how they’re growing and developing into adult teeth. Their dentist will also be able to make any necessary orthodontist referrals, most likely to occur when your child becomes a teenager.
When it comes to brushing teeth, and adopting a regular routine, a younger child may be more inclined to comply with the use fun and enjoyable of visual aids. For example, they may be more inclined to brush for a sticker or for gold stars on a chart. To ensure your child is brushing for the sufficient time you could introduce an egg timer or use a timed flashing toothbrush to help their understanding of exactly how much attention they should be paying to their teeth, which should be around 2-3 minutes.
Why not make it a group activity? Children might be more likely to join in if they see the grownups brushing, so try and brush together in the morning or before bed time.
Praise is key when encouraging healthy habits, so make sure there’s lots of smiles, clapping and ‘well dones’ involved!
Avoid the Fear Factor!
Parents and dentists each play an important role in making a child’s first dental appointment a positive experience, which paves the way for their future visits as they progress into adulthood.
Make sure you visit the dentist with your child when they are as young as possible and at least once, by the time they are two. This is so they become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist and build up trust. The dentist can help to prevent decay and identify any health problems at an early stage.
It is important to keep any feelings of anxiety or previous bad experiences you may have had as a parent hidden from you’re your child, as they will pick up on this, causing unnecessary fear. You should also avoid using words or phrases with negative connotations such as ‘it might hurt’ or ‘be painful’. I also ask parents to avoid promising rewards for your child after visiting the dentist, as this detracts from the fact that it should be a normal routine experience.
Technique and Best Practice!
Your child should be brushing in a circular motion, held at a 45-degree angle, to ensure they are cleaning the gum as well as the tooth. It’s also important to ensure they don’t brush too hard as this can wear away the gum. Why not utilise the mirror to your advantage when teaching your children how to brush their teeth, so they can perfect the technique they should be using.
Encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste, but not to rinse their mouths with lots of water. This is because rinsing with water after tooth brushing will wash away the fluoride, and as result make it less effective.
Also, ensure you change their toothbrush at least every two to three months. This will keep the brush of a high quality, allowing the bristles to clean the teeth and gums effectively, as well as keeping bacteria at bay.
It is important to note that you must use age specific tooth pastes for children. After the age of 8 years old your child can use a pea sized amount of adult toothpaste.
You must begin brushing your children’s teeth as soon as they start to erupt. This will get them use to the routine and sensation.
To make way for independent brushing when the time is right at 12 months, allow them to chew on rubber toothbrushes. This will not only get them used to the sensation and make it less daunting when they switch to the real thing, but it will also help with any teething problems they are having.
Supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, either by brushing their teeth yourself or, if they brush their own teeth, by watching how they do it. Ideally you should try and brush your children teeth for as long as they will allow you. Remember you have better dexterity than them and will do a more thorough job. It’s also important to remember the most important time for teeth brushing is the night time brush.
Education, Education, Education!
Educate children and explain how and why they should be looking after their teeth to keep them healthy. This gives the activity a purpose and makes oral health an important factor in their lives from the outset.
Monitor the consumption of fizzy drinks, acidic fruit juices and high sugar foods as they should be moderated to ensure a happy and healthy mouth. Educating them on what they should and shouldn’t be eating and drinking will encourage healthy habits in later life.
Most importantly make it a positive experience every time for your child, and encourage healthy habits which will last them a lifetime.
By Dr Shivani Patel www.ellevendental.com.
The oral health care innovators, has expanded its product offering with 5 new products with something to suit every member of the family…
The new product range caters to those with more sensitive gums that may not floss due to irritation or bleeding. They’ve also added a new dental guard to prevent and relieve the painful effects of bruxism – the new Platinum Guard moulds securely and comfortably to the mouth without being boiled. To encourage kids to brush, DenTek has released super fun toothbrush covers in a variety of animals – sure to have everyones favourite animal!
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