Tips for looking after children’s teeth
Some tips for Parents – how to look after your children’s teeth
As we know prevention is better than cure, and it can be stressful for all involved when children need a lot of dental work done.
There is a broad misconception that it is not really important to look after milk/baby teeth as they will be replaced when the permanent teeth come in. On the contrary they are very important, as they serve to maintain the space and position for the permanent teeth, as well as providing a function for chewing. Early removal of baby teeth leads to orthodontic problems later.
Here are a few basic tips on keeping your children’s teeth healthy:
Brush their teeth twice a day.
- A good way of doing this is to let them brush their own teeth in the morning under your supervision, and you brush their teeth in the evenings before bedtime. It’s a good idea to give them an extra good clean at least twice a week – To do this let them lie on their backs on the floor with their head in your lap. It is much easier to see and gain access to the back of the mouth from this position. This is also a good position for flossing their teeth.
- Restrict heavily sugared / fizzy drinks as much as possible!
- Save them for treats on a weekend if absolutely necessary.
- Encourage a well balanced diet with limited sugary foods.
- When children do eat sweets encourage them to drink water afterwards to help rinse away the sugar.
- Replace normal sugar with Xylitol sugar.
- Xylitol is actually beneficial for the teeth.
- When giving them fruit juice, try and stay away from the citrus fruits as these are very acidic and do a lot of damage.
- Dilute fruit juice as much as possible.
- Drink as much water as possible.
- Never put sugary substances in bottles, and don’t let your child fall asleep drinking a bottle.
- No dummies past the age of 3 years, and discourage thumb sucking as much as possible.
- The softer the toothbrush you use the better. Don’t brush your or your children’s teeth too hard – this leads to abrasion of the teeth and damage to the gums.
- Avoid whitening toothpastes that have rough particles in / are gritty, as these lead to more staining in the long run.
- No adult toothpastes to be used on under 6 year olds as they contain too much fluoride.
- Only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is needed.
- An excellent way to prevent decay is to have the permanent teeth sealed with fissure sealants. This can be done by our dental hygienist as soon as the first permanent molars come through at around age 6 years.
- Regular checkups with your dentist, annually before age 6, and six monthly thereafter.
Good Luck !
Dr Richard Lombard