21 Feb Oral Hygiene For Children
Regular dental appointments for young children should start from the age of one, or within six months of the first tooth appearing. Visiting from an early age helps familiarise kids with the dental clinic environment, introduces the importance of good oral care and above all, provides an opportunity to detect any dental problems from the outset.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than half of all six-year-old children exhibit some tooth decay in their baby or adult teeth, which can cause pain and swelling as well as predispose the child to get more tooth decay in their adult teeth. Primary (baby) teeth guide adult teeth into their proper position, so if they are lost or decayed it may increase the likelihood of crowding and the need for braces later in life.
Babies’ gums can be wiped with a soft cotton gauze to remove plaque. A soft, child-sized toothbrush can be used as soon as primary teeth develop. ‘Child-strength’ fluoride toothpaste can be used from the age of 18 months until children are able to spit it out and don’t swallow the toothpaste. Use only a small amount and try to encourage your child even if first attempts are clumsy. Brushing twice daily is suggested but before bedtime is especially important, and from the age of 8 children should be introduced to flossing with the help of a parent.
Diet is one of the most important factors in tooth decay prevention. Both the frequency and amount of added sugar in their diet should be limited. Foods that are acidic, sticky and sweet – such as soft drinks, cordial, flavoured syrups, sports drinks, flavoured milk, liquid breakfast, sweet biscuits, cakes, muesli bars, dried fruits, ice-cream and fruit juice – are best avoided. They should be substituted with more tooth-friendly snacks like fresh fruits, vegetable sticks with dips, plain rice crackers and dry biscuits, plain popcorn (not suitable for young children) and cheese.
Small children can often experience injury to their baby teeth. Accidents on play equipment, the edge of the bath and swimming pool are very common. Baby teeth, if knocked out, should not be reinserted, and chipped teeth may need a filling. For any type of trauma, it is best to visit your dentist as soon as possible.
Early childhood is the time when most lifetime habits are established. At Boroondara Family Dentist, we strive to empower parents with the knowledge to help their children achieve their best oral health from a young age, which will give them the best chance of maintaining healthy teeth for a lifetime.
The ADA has created a series of educational videos to assist all Australians with maintaining their oral health.
Learn how to take care of your teeth through diet and nutrition.
Click HERE to watch the video