With a shocking 25% of children in the UK suffering from tooth decay, keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy may seem like fighting a losing battle. Luckily, many small changes can make a big difference to your child’s health.
And getting your child’s oral health off to a good start will reduce the chances of further problems as they grow up, so they’ll thank you later!
Here are some of our favourite and handy tips to keep your child’s teeth and gums clean and healthy:
1. Start early
Most children will get their first tooth around 6 months of age, but you don’t need to wait until then to encourage healthy teeth habits! Using a clean washcloth and warm water, you can gently clean your little one’s gums and inner mouth every day to prompt healthy gum growth and get your child familiar with the routine of brushing. This light pressure can also help relieve soreness caused by teething.
2. Brush the right way
Naturally, kids don’t want to spend forever brushing their teeth and will often scrub hard and fast, so they can go back to causing havoc! But improper brushing won’t have the same benefits as the correct methods, so make sure your child is softly brushing in circular motions, reaching every tooth surface, inside and out.
Brushing should take at least 2 minutes, so try using a timer or singing a song to help encourage your child to keep going! Toddlers only require a rice-grain sized amount of toothpaste, whilst children require a pea-sized amount – so no need to squeeze a whole tube of paste out for a good clean.
3. Avoid too much sugar
We all know that processed sugar is harmful to oral health, but did you know that the natural sugars in many of your child’s drinks and snacks could be just as damaging? It’s not just sweets, chocolates and milkshakes that can eat away at the enamel of the tooth – fruit juices, cereals, and even milk can have enough sugar in them to cause cavities.
It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your child’s sugar intake, so try to fill your cupboards and fridge with low-sugar snacks and drinks, such as unsweetened popcorn, carrot sticks, cubed cheese and plant-based milk.
4. Ditch the dummy!
Most babies and toddlers will have a soother or pacifier at some point, and for some children, it is a must-have comforter. Over-use however, can alter the natural position of the mouth and lead to crooked teeth, over-bites and the need for orthodontic treatment in the future.
They can even affect the alignment of your child’s jaws! Thumb-sucking can cause the same problems, so it’s recommended that children break these habits by age 3 – but the sooner the better.
5. Make friends with the dentist
Although it might seem unnecessary, it’s recommended that children have their first dental exam as soon as their first tooth appears, and before they are a year old! Children are especially prone to cavities, and making regular visits to the dentist could save your children a lot of unpleasant tooth problems in the future, as well as familiarising your child with the dentist.
Choosing a kid-friendly dentist, that will make every dental appointment a fun experience, will also encourage your child to keep up a good oral health routine.
It’s vital to ensure that our children’s teeth and gums remain healthy to avoid potentially serious health problems in the future and to give them the best chances of having a happy and healthy smile throughout their lifetime.
For more information on how you can improve and maintain your child’s oral health, or to book a dental exam with one of our child-friendly clinicians, get in touch with your local Oradent practice today.