Looking after your child’s teeth
It is important to ensure that your child develops a familiarity with the routine of brushing their teeth from a very early age, as this has been shown to instil a positive attitude towards oral health in future life.
As soon as the first tooth emerges in babies, it is recommended that this tooth is cleaned with a very soft brush at bath times. You may use a fluoride toothpaste to begin brushing – it is important to use a fluoride toothpaste as this will go a long way towards the prevention of tooth decay from an early stage. Consult your dentist on what sort of fluoride consistency would be appropriate for a child under three years of age.
In terms of how much toothpaste you should use for slightly older children, an amount the size and shape of a pea should suffice. With children at this age (3 and above), it is important to remember that they typically like the taste of the toothpastes they brush with, so keep an eye on them to make sure they do not consume any toothpastes directly from the tube.
Cleaning a young child’s teeth should take around two minutes and should be done twice a day, ensuring that one is done just before bed time. Your child should be told to spit out any toothpaste left in the mouth, but do not perform a thorough rinse with water, as this can nullify the positive effects of a toothpaste.
It would be advisable to watch over your child as they brush their teeth up until the age of seven or eight years. One way of doing this is to brush your teeth together regularly. Once your child reaches the stage at which you feel confidently that they will responsibly brush their teeth as and when they should, it is still a good idea to supervise them occasionally in order to ensure they are doing so correctly.
There are a few pointers that can help you ascertain whether or not your child is brushing their teeth properly. They should:
a) Be using the correct movement/motion (guide your child on this if necessary)
b) Brush for exactly two minutes, and use a stopwatch or timer so that your child is aware.
c) Provide a mirror so that your child can clearly see what they are doing.
d) Be pro-active in ensuring that your child does not use their toothbrush as a toy, or run around with their toothbrush in their mouth.
Protecting your child’s teeth
If you are a parent, you will no doubt be aware that young children typically enjoy food and drink products that contain a high volume of sugar. It is best for your child that their intake of such products is limited due to the fact that they are a major cause of tooth decay. Do not allow your children to consume food or drink products that contain added sugar more than four times a day, and allocate the times that they are allowed them to mealtimes. A sugar-free option of anything your child consumes would be preferable to an alternative with a high sugar content.