How important is children’s oral health?
How important is children’s oral health? Top tips for kids’ teeth
Healthy teeth are an essential part of having good health and a good quality of life. This is no less true in children than it is in adults, with the quality of their dental health affecting not only their general health, but also their ability to eat, sleep and socialise.
The importance of oral health in children cannot be underestimated. According to Public Health England, a quarter of those aged under five have been found to have tooth decay, even though the facts have established that it is preventable 90% of the time. However, there are ways of ensuring that tooth decay does not affect your children.
Make sure they brush their teeth
It is recommended that parents, guardians and carers should either brush their children’s teeth themselves, or supervise them while brushing, from the time the first of their baby teeth break through, up until the age of at least seven. This is important to be sure that they are brushing properly and for the correct amount of time, which is about two minutes.
Brushing should be done regularly, at least twice a day. One of those times should be just before the child goes to bed, and should be done using a small brush with soft bristles and either a smear of fluoride toothpaste in younger children or a pea sized amount in older children. The fluoride present in toothpaste is an important factor in preventing tooth decay.
In order to help your child get used to brushing, the NHS also recommend that you guide your child’s hand while they are brushing and use a mirror, so they can feel and see the correct movements. Brushing must also be done gently behind the teeth and into the gums. Rinsing after spitting the toothpaste out is not suggested, as this can prevent the fluoride from working as it should.
Keep their diet healthy
Oral health care for children is naturally linked to their diet and the things they eat every day. Foods and drinks that contain more sugar will produce acid when they come into contact with plaque on the surface of teeth. This weakens the tooth’s enamel and starts the process of tooth decay.
The process is countered by children brushing their teeth regularly and by reducing the amount of time that their teeth are exposed to sugar. This means ensuring your child only has a small amount of sugary foods and drinks at mealtimes, not in between meals, and making sure that their teeth are brushed thoroughly afterwards.
Recommended snacks for between meals include different fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, carrot sticks or pieces of cucumber. Dried fruit is not recommended, as it contains a high amount of sugar. Toast and rice cakes are also thought to be good alternative snack foods for your child to eat, as these contain hardly any sugar at all.
Visit the dentist
All children who have teeth are at risk of getting tooth decay. This is why it is important that they are taken to see a dentist from the time their first teeth appear. A qualified dentist will be able to identify any issues that might present themselves in the future and provide advice on how to manage them.
Dental care for children is free on the NHS, so it can be considered one of the easiest providers of children’s oral health resources and dentistry advice. Taking your children to a dentist from a young age and presenting the experience as a positive can also help them to feel relaxed and not worry about going in the future.
Visit an orthodontist
It is important for all children to visit an orthodontist before they reach the age of ten. While it is unlikely that they will require braces at such an early age, a qualified orthodontist, similarly to a dentist, will be able to see if a child is likely to develop any problems as they get older. Examples of this would be noticing a misalignment that would eventually lead to an uneven bite, or other issues that would affect a child’s jaw bone growth and structure.
A child’s adult teeth will begin to push through their gums between the ages of eight and twelve, so it is important to help them maintain good oral health. This way, they will be able to maintain a healthy mouth by themselves as they get older, which will contribute to their overall health in turn.
For more information
If you wish to know more about oral health promotion in children, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are a friendly team and we are always on hand to help, whether you are trying to book an appointment or simply looking for advice about good dental health.
Book an appointment with us if you have any concerns or questions. Your oral health matters to us, so we will do everything we can to see that you are satisfied with your care.