What’s the big deal?
Hello! It’s me, Sam!
I’m here to talk about keeping your children’s teeth healthy.
Unfortunately, many people believe that the health of a child's first teeth does not matter as ‘they will fall out anyway'. This is wrong I’m afraid!
Tooth decay can happen at any stage of someone’s life, and not looking after your child’s teeth can result in both short-term and long-term health problems for them.
- An infection of a baby tooth can lead to possible damage to the big tooth underneath.
- An infection/abscess is painful which in turn can lead to dental fear.
- An infection/abscess can affect the health of the entire body.
- A broken tooth can cause ulcers, a sore tongue, sore cheeks and sore lips.
- The loss of a baby tooth too early can result in the adult teeth becoming crowded or misplaced.
- Poor brushing in childhood can lead to poor brushing in adult life, and this is a BAD habit that must be avoided!
- Numerous scientific studies have shown that gum disease can contribute to and increase the risk and severity of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, respiratory disease and osteoporosis.
- It can also severely stress the immune system and lower the body’s resistance to infections.
A poor diet, especially in early life, can also lead to future tooth decay and other health issues for your child.
Dental disease generates a great deal of stress and over 50% of the population suffer some degree of fear and anxiety because of it.
Also, think of the cost!: dental treatment can be very expensive, especially when added up over a lifetime.
So how can I keep my child’s teeth healthy?
Although babies’ teeth don’t usually break through their gums until they are around 6 months old, you can start good dental care even before the first tooth arrives. Tula has some tips on how this can be done!
Over to you Tula
Tula's Teeth Tips for Tiny Tots
Here are some tips for you to make sure that even from a young age, your child has healthy teeth!
- Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or infant formula may be convenient, but they can harm a baby's teeth. The sugars from milk, infant formula or even juice can remain on a baby's teeth for hours, causing decay. Avoid this by taking the bottle away as soon as they have finished drinking from it.
- Running a damp, clean washcloth over a baby's gums daily will help clear away harmful bacteria.
- You can start brushing your baby’s teeth with a ‘baby’ toothpaste as soon as they break through. Make sure you use a soft-bristle toothbrush and water with just a smear of toothpaste until about age 3.
- Children aged between 3 and 6 years should only use a pea-sized blob of toothpaste.
- Brush your child's teeth for about two minutes twice a day: once after breakfast and again just before bedtime.
- Supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, either by brushing their teeth yourself or by watching them.
Now back to you Sam!
When do I take my child to the Dentist?
You can take your child to the dentist as early as when their first milk teeth appear. The dentist can help prevent decay and identify any oral health problems at an early stage. This will also let children get used to the noises, smells and surroundings of a surgery and prepare them for future visits. The earlier these visits begin, the more relaxed the child will be.
- Limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes to protect against tooth decay. Serve these foods at mealtimes rather than as snacks so they're more likely to get dislodged and won't sit on the teeth too long. Serving them with water is also helpful.
- If you want to give your child a snack, stick to vegetables, fruit and cheese. Try to limit dried fruit as it is high in sugar and will stick to teeth.
- Sugar is a great preservative (as found in jams) so it is widely used in any prepared foods. Look at the ingredients in jars of baby food and taste them before feeding them to your child. If they are too sweet, don’t let them have it. Also, be sure to dilute fruit juices with water.
All these tips will steer a child towards a more savoury diet. This will not only benefit their teeth but overall health as well, by limiting the potential for weight gain and diabetes later in their life. Isn’t that what any parent wants? Me, Tula and the rest of the Tooth Fairies certainly do!