With school ahead, it’s time to reassess your child’s oral health, says Blue Sky Dental hygienist, Samantha Henly.
Within the next few weeks, children in the UK will be returning to school, perhaps causing a sigh of relief for some parents who can then return to normal ‘adult life’. Whilst we all love our children, we are also responsible for encouraging good habits; none more so than how they look after their teeth and gums.
Naturally, we can’t expect very young children to understand the details of why they should brush their teeth or not eat so many sweets. To a child, the taste of sugar in their mouth is very nice, thank you very much, so why spoil it with the taste of toothpaste!
However good your own child is at cleaning their teeth, there are always areas where, as parents, we can improve how they do this by taking the time and effort to help them. In today’s post, we take a look at a few of these areas where things can, perhaps, improve.
Night time routine
Children should, of course, clean their teeth in the morning, but night times are especially important as there is a fair chance that they will have consumed quite a lot of sugar throughout the day. It is essential that this is removed before they go to sleep by brushing their teeth well. Parents should supervise young children when they brush, and make sure that they do so for at least two minutes of actual brushing time. Once cleaned, nothing but water should be consumed, not even a drink of milk, as this contains natural sugars which are just as harmful to the teeth as refined sugar.
Involve your children
Children like to be involved in decisions as much as they can. Whilst there are areas where this is obviously not practical, you can certainly involve them more in the area of their oral health care. Simple things like letting them pick a new toothbrush or which flavour toothpaste (make sure it is suitable for their age and contains fluoride) can also encourage them to be more willing to clean their teeth. A timer, or timer phone app, are also useful things that can be used to encourage them.
If your child has school dinners, it is hoped that the school would ensure that they are healthy and not full of sugar. Parents who pack their child’s meals and are often rushed in the morning though, and may find themselves throwing in foods like chocolate bars and other high sugar foods so they can get the children to school on time. It is a good idea to make sure that you have a good stock of tooth-friendly foods in the store cupboard for this purpose. Perhaps even involve your child with the shopping, explaining what they can and can’t have. Some child friendly foods which are less harmful for their teeth and are ideal for packed lunches include crunchy vegetables, bread sticks and cheese.
Remember the dentist
In all the rush to get your kids ready to start the new term, don’t forget that they need to see a dentist too. We usually associate young children with tooth decay, because of their love of sugar, but they also need monitoring to make sure that their teeth are coming through correctly and that they don’t need to wear a dental brace.
Gum disease can also be an issue in children, as it can with adults. Myself and the Blue Sky Dental hygienist team believe that it is very important that young children come and see us around every six months or so. We use a range of methods and tools to show children how and why they should look after their teeth well. This understanding, we believe, will stand them in good stead in future years. We will also check their gums and, where necessary, give them a thorough clean. This is entirely non invasive and should cause the child no distress.
It is important to remember that a healthy smile is not only a nice looking one, but, it is increasingly thought, also contributes to our overall health. If you can encourage your children to look after their teeth and gums, you could already be contributing to a longer and healthier life for them.
If you have a child, from one year old, we do recommend that they see a dentist and hygienist at our Chelmsford practice every six months. If yours is not registered at a practice and you would like to do so, please call Blue Sky Dental on 01245 211070. We’ll be pleased to welcome them on board to our local dental family!
Samantha Henley is a Dental Hygienist at Blue Sky Dental (GDC 134767)