Dental Care Tips for Children
Children’s teeth need care from the first tooth appearing until the last baby tooth has fallen out when they are old enough to take care of their teeth without too much supervision. Taking care of your child’s teeth from the start will mean they are less likely to need dental work as they get older, such as braces and fillings. Read on to see our top tips for caring for your child’s teeth.
Brush Twice a Day
Brushing twice a day is just as important for children as it is for adults. Make sure their toothbrush has soft bristles and a small head, so it can get to the back of the mouth with no issues. You should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first milk tooth comes through, using a child-friendly toothpaste, with no less than 1,000ppm of fluoride. Only a small amount of toothpaste is needed for children, and supervise them, so they do not eat the toothpaste. Make sure your child spits out after brushing, but they don’t need to rinse, as this means the fluoride doesn’t work as well.
Help With Brushing
If your child is older, let them do the brushing. Give them a mirror to use, so they know exactly where the brush is cleaning. For younger children, help guide their brushing with your hand, so they can learn the correct movement. Make sure they are doing it for long enough, by setting a two-minute timer. The older your child is, from around age 12 upwards, make sure they start flossing as part of their daily dental routine.
Tooth Friendly Food
It’s not just brushing that should be part of a child’s dental care; the food they eat matters too. Fruit, vegetables, dairy, nuts and lean meats are better for teeth than salty, sugary and fatty foods that many children love. It may take some encouragement to choose the healthy options, but involving them during shopping and cooking and eating the same food with them reassures them that eating healthy food is better. When it comes to snacking, offer healthy options rather than too much chocolate and sweets. Tooth decay is a rising problem in children due to the high levels of sugar in easily consumed food and drink.
Dental care in the UK is free under the NHS for children under the age of eighteen, and you should take them to the dentist from when their first tooth appears which is around six months. Starting young shows your child that trips to the dentist are normal and healthy. You should also avoid rewarding them after regular check-ups, as this implies the visit is a hardship. Making it part of a regular day out, adding a trip to the shops, further adds to the normalcy of the dentist.
Losing Baby Teeth
Losing baby teeth is a normal part of childhood, and it can be an exciting time for children. Children start to lose their first tooth around age six and their last around 12 or 13, but if it is premature due to an accident or decay, go see your dentist. A tooth can take a few days or weeks to fall out once you have noticed it is loose, depending on the root dissolving or how much your child wiggles it. It can also take several months for the adult tooth to grow in. When the tooth has come out, make sure your child rinses their mouth, especially if there is any blood. They can continue to brush their teeth, but not too hard over the gap, and it is important they keep up their brushing routine.
Using an Electric Toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes have proven to be more effective at removing plaque from teeth and getting to the gumline. However, electric toothbrushes are more powerful, so not suitable to use on babies. If you are considering using an electric toothbrush, wait until your child is three or four years old, and most of their baby teeth have grown through. Electric toothbrushes are great for children, as it can do most of the work for you, from the movement of the brush head to in-built timer, if it has one. Like with manual toothbrushes, choosing a brightly coloured or character toothbrush with any easy grip can encourage your child to use it.
If your child has less than pearly white teeth, it is tempting to whiten them the same way you do, with whitening strips or toothpaste. However, it is important to be aware of the risks of whitening children’s teeth. Strips use hydrogen peroxide, a bleach also used in hair dye, and only small amounts are needed for adult teeth, so a small amount could be harmful to your child’s teeth. Tooth sensitivity is another risk, and children with sensitive teeth should avoid using a product which could make it worse. If you start whitening your child’s teeth, do it when they are older, baby teeth are lost, and adult teeth are properly grown through. Be sure to consult our teeth whitening strips reviews before testing them out too!
Take a look at our previous blog posts for more tips on dental care and teeth whitening!