In 2019, one in four five year-olds were found to have decay with over 40,000 admissions to hospital in 1-14 year olds.
This is largely avoidable by the introduction of bi-annual dental visits from 1 year of age, with regular monitoring of oral health and good oral health education for children and their parents. Early introduction of children to the dental setting, ensures they are more at ease in the dental chair, so in an event of dental trauma or tooth decay, the children are not scared and more likely to cooperate for the required treatment needs without the need for sedation or general anaesthetic.
Here are some tips from Dr Attari and her team at Weymouth Street Paediatric Dental Care:
Top tips for parents
- Clean the baby’s mouth with a soft, clean cloth even before the baby teeth erupt
- Once the teeth start to erupt, a soft brush finger brush or handheld brush can be used to clean the baby’s teeth
- After dental eruption, do not put the baby to bed with a milk bottle. Formula or cow’s milk can cause dental decay if pooled around the teeth at night
- Always use fluoridated toothpaste
- Brush twice per day, ideally after breakfast and before bed
- Once all the baby teeth have erupted (20 teeth), 2 minutes should be spent brushing all tooth surfaces in a circular motion, not forgetting the gumline
- Interdental cleaning with floss is essential where the teeth are not spaced
- Official recommendation Oral Health Foundation UK, is for children to be helped with their brushing and flossing up to 9 years of age; this is the age where they develop good enough manual dexterity to clean their teeth independently
- Avoid brushing young children’s teeth just before bedtime, as they are less likely to cooperate when they are very tired. After night-time brushing avoid children snacking or drinking anything apart from water
- Use of electric toothbrushes should be avoided until children have good manual dexterity and good grasp on brushing technique. This is usually around 12 years of age
- Avoid using an electric toothbrush which is battery operated; always use rechargeable toothbrushes or stick to manual brushing
- With electric toothbrushes, the brush head should be placed at 45 degrees angle at junction of where the gum and the tooth meet and hold the brush for 3-5 seconds on every tooth surface
- Toothpaste must be spit out after brushing; but do not rinse with water as this washes the fluoride away
- Always use fluoridated mouth wash at a different time to brushing e.g. after snack time
Keeping bad breath at bay
- Good brushing, interdental cleaning and lack of gum disease will help prevent bad breath
- Tongue scrapers can help reduce bacteria and debris build up in the grooves of the tongue which is a common cause of bad breath.
- Bad breath can be caused by bacteria imbalance in the gut. Use of probiotics and restore this balance and help eliminate bad breath together good oral hygiene.
Maintaining a healthy diet
A balanced diet is vital for a child’s over all development and plays a vital role in maintaining a good oral health. It is important to eat varied foods from the five food groups including bread/grain products, fruits and vegetables, proteins and dairy products. Consumption of sugary food, regardless of their quantity result in an acid-attack on teeth that lasts for 45 minutes before its neutralised. Therefore, frequent snacking is a main cause of dental decay in children and adolescents.
Parents are often misguided into thinking juices, dried fruit or food sweetened with fruit juices are healthier than refined sugars. However, dried fruit is one of the main causes of dental decay, as it sticks to teeth the concentrated sugar lingers on tooth surfaces. Juices are acidic and the juicing process release the sugars from the fruit, which can cause dental decay
- Ideally consumption of sugary foods, fruit juices and dried fruit should be limited to meal times where increased saliva flow neutralises the acid reducing the risk of dental decay.
- Remember, it’s not the quantity, but the frequency of sugar intake that caused dental decay!
- Healthy snacks such as vegetables, fresh fruits, cheese, sandwiches should be eaten between meals
- Fruit juices, smoothies and dried fruits can cause decay if consumed between meals.
Parents must remember that combination of good oral hygiene, diet and routine dental visits from a young age, can reduce the likelihood of children needing any dental treatment and will shape the childs behaviour towards good oral hygiene and diet for like. It is important not to just visit the dentist when in pain, but go for routine check-ups to prevent pain.
Weymouth Street Paediatric Dental Care
33 Weymouth Street, London W1G 7BY
0207 580 5370