One of the UK’s leading dentists, Dr Richard Marques of Wimpole Street Dental, London) shares some top tips for keeping your children’s teeth healthy.
1. Don’t delay tooth brushing
Start brushing your child’s teeth with a fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first milk tooth breaks through (usually at around six months). There are children’s toothpastes such as Aquafresh milk teeth which are specially designed for young children’s teeth (they should always contain at least 1000ppm fluoride). It is best to spit but not rinse which allows the fluoride to soak into the teeth. However, children should avoid eating or swallowing too much toothpaste.
2. Avoid giving your child sticky sweets
It sounds obvious, but sticky sweets contain lots of sugars, get stuck in the teeth and can cause the teeth to decay.
3. Avoid fizzy drinks
Fizzy drinks contain carbonic acid (and can contain sugars) which can cause erosion of the teeth (loss of the enamel).
4. Unless giving water, avoid bottles or sippy cups
Bottles or ‘sippy-cups’ can cause drinks to pool around the front teeth for too long encouraging tooth decay. (Mumfidential tip: Our dentist tells us it is also best to brush teeth after giving milk in the evening, rather than before as milk contains a lot of sugar. Oops.)
5. Have regular dental appointments.
It is important for children to become accustomed to going to the dentist from a young age.
6. Help your child to brush their teeth.
The teeth should be brushed for 2 minutes -a timer is a great way to encourage this. (Mumfidential tip: make fun games out of toothbrushing or it can feel quite boring and you don’t want it turning into a battle – you know who will win.)
7. Ask your dentist for fissure sealants on your child’s back teeth.
Fissure sealants can be done when your child’s permanent back teeth start to come through. This is where the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are covered with a special thin plastic coating to keep germs and food particles out of the grooves. The sealant can last for 5-10 years plus.
8. Give healthy snacks.
The best snacks to feed your child are fruit and raw vegetables. Bananas, carrot sticks and cucumber are some of the recommended snacks. Cheese is also good. Dried fruit should be avoided as it contains lots of sugar.
9. Opt for sugar-free medicines.
If your children need medicines, make sure these are sugar free as otherwise they can damage the teeth.
10. Avoid thumb-sucking or dummies.
Too much thumb-sucking or dummies can cause an open bite where teeth move to make space for the thumb or dummy.