More children are admitted to hospital due to decayed teeth than any other ailment – what is sad about this is that tooth decay is entirely preventable. Tooth decay starts due to a ‘drip, drip’ effect of sugar throughout the day – sugar is found in cereal, juice, sweets, chocolate, flavoured crisps, cakes, biscuits, fruit / flavoured yogurts, milk shakes, ketchup – most processed foods – we need to limit our children’s sugar intake and ensure that sugary foods are eaten only at meal times and not spread throughout the day – for example – eating a whole muffin or piece of cake or pack of sweets in one go – will cause much less sugar damage to teeth than having a little bit or a few at several intervals throughout the day. Healthy snacks include toast, bread, sandwiches, cheese, tuna or meat, English muffins, crumpets, oat cakes, rice cakes, vegetables, natural yogurt or fromage frais, bite sized pieces of fruit
I think we are all aware that giving children juice in a baby bottle is very damaging to little teeth and to teeth coming through – and again latest guidelines show that children benefit from starting to drink from a cup – eg a ‘Doidy Cup’ from 6 months – yes there will be mess, yes, clothes will need changing, but the amount of time that the sugar is spending on teeth is much less and teeth are given the best chance of correct formation due to not ‘growing’ around a teet or soft bottle top. Otherwise – if drinking from a cup isn’t appropriate or the thing for you – using a hard teat sippy cup is the next best thing. It is also strongly suggested that children are only given water or milk to drink.
When your baby is first born, register them with the dentist – your individual dentist will let you know when to bring your baby for their first dental appointment. Dental appointments should be attended at least twice a year.
Current guidelines are to start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth starts to peep through – usually around 6 months.
It is important that each child has access to fluoride – and the toothpaste you are using has a fluoride content of at least 1550ppm – Family toothpaste is fine for all children – there really isn’t any need to have different toothpastes for different members of the family. Some children may not like the strong minty taste – but start off with a milder version – if a child doesn’t know about strawberry toothpaste – they wont ‘Neeeed’ it! (The minimum recommended fluoride content for young children’s toothpaste is 1000ppm – however, no harm will come from using the family toothpaste.)
Fluoride is now usually only found in toothpaste – only very few places still add fluoride to drinking water and North Yorkshire isn’t one of them!
Current guidelines are that we should use only a pea sized amount of toothpaste (a petit pois – not a baked bean!) and that babies and very small children are better with a smear of toothpaste – adults are encouraged to monitor and assist children in tooth brushing until at least age 7, with care taken to brush the gums as well as the teeth. Often some parents don’t worry too much about the ‘baby teeth’ thinking that the adult teeth will come through fine – sadly this isn’t always the case – tooth decay can cause abscesses and pain and also that decay can affect the adult teeth waiting to peep through – in addition – the back molars which come through when a child is 6-7 years old are the adult teeth – these will not be replaced, so good care from day 1 is essential. Child will naturally loose their baby teeth between the ages of 6-12 years. More information can be found here.
After teeth brushing, it is also important to spit – not rinse – ensuring that the toothpaste (fluoride) has the opportunity to stay on the teeth for longer – it will feel a bit gritty to start with – however, you will soon get used to it.
Some children – particularly those with sensory issues – may not like the feel of bubbles in their mouths when they brush their teeth. There is a brand called Oranurse which doesn’t froth and may be preferable. this toothpaste is also flavourless – so helps when minty toothpaste is ‘too spicy!’