The most important lessons children learn are from their parents, its mimicking their behaviour that teaches them the right and wrong way to behave and act. Teaching correct teeth brushing is an important lesson to teach your child to get it right from the very beginning. If, like many parents, you’re always rushing out the door….shoes, hair, breakfast, bag, jacket, hat, it can be seemingly impossible to slow down and help your child brush their teeth. But it’s important and needs to be done.
From when baby’s first teeth come through, it’s important to be using a soft cloth to be cleaning them, making sure milk residue is not sticking to their teeth. From there a training toothbrush can be introduced to teach your baby to hold and use the toothbrush.
Until your child can properly brush their own teeth, parents should brush their teeth. The correct technique for brushing includes holding your brush at a 45° angle against your child’s teeth/gums and using vertical or circular strokes. Avoid teaching your child horizontal brushing strokes, as these can damage your teeth/gums and wear away enamel.
Your child should brush their teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, however in the rush to get out the door for pre-school or school, this can sometimes be rushed. Try using a favourite song to brush to or there are a range of free iPhone apps which ensure children enjoy brushing their teeth for 2 to 3 minutes.
As your child gets older and more independent, just because they now can brush their teeth doesn’t mean they are. Checking technique and how long they are brushing for is still important and shows that you are still monitoring their brushing habits.
Proper dental care begins young and the habits that are formed can prevent dental complications and orthodontic treatments for older children. The team at Somerset Dental are here to help you teach your children proper dental hygiene. Contact us today and make an appointment with the team.
A child’s baby teeth will generally start falling out around the age of six, giving space for adult teeth to form and grow. However, just because these baby teeth will fall out doesn’t mean that we should treat them as temporary and not important to a child’s good dental health.
Tooth decay in baby teeth can cause pain, infection and may have serious impact of a child’s speech and jaw development. More worrying is that early tooth decay can lead to higher risk of new decay in adult teeth, setting up a bad start that may lead to years of dental treatment.
Teaching a child to brush and clean their teeth right is important, but just as important is what they are eating. The types of food and drink you give your child can affect development of tooth decay.
Just like adults, children, once weaned onto solids, should have a wide and varied diet, including foods from all the five food groups and time being put aside for regular meal times.
Settling babies to sleep with bottles of milk can lead to early childhood tooth decay, particularly if it happens often. The problem is that the milk contains natural sugars, which can build up around baby’s teeth at night. The germs on the teeth can turn the sugars into acids, which eat away at the enamel of the baby teeth.
Once your baby has finished their milk, remove the bottle so they do not continue to suck on the bottle all night. If you find your child still thirsty, a drink of water from a sippy cup is advised.
Toddlers and food can be a messy business. They are busy exploring everything, into everything, not too keen to sit and have a meal, instead content with grabbing and running, literally. It’s messy because when you do get them long enough to eat, they are desperate to prove independence and feed themselves.
Setting time aside for regular meal times is important to prevent a toddler simply grazing all day. The concern with grazing is that the longer food and drink stays in your child’s mouth, the more chance there is for acid to develop and cause damage to tooth enamel. This means that nibbling foods and sipping drinks over longer periods of time is more likely to cause tooth decay.
By having set meal times and a range of tooth friendly snacks already cut up, such as fruit and vegetables, you are setting up your child with the right approach to food and diet for life as well as good oral health.
Here is where is can get tricky. As you child grow’s and is gaining more and more independence, you are no longer the only source for their food and drink. They are likely spending with others, with friends at play-dates, childcare or pre-school and also have the independence to open a cupboard or the fridge.
It is generally accepted and well known that soft drinks contain high amounts of sugar and shouldn’t be given to young children. However less well known is that these drinks, along with fruit juices and cordials, often have high-acid levels, and can play a major role in the development of tooth erosion.
According to the Australian Dental Authority (ADA) Healthy Eating Fact Sheet, erosion is a silent epidemic. Soft drinks, high sugar fruit juices and cordials should be limited and encourage your child to drink fluoridated water as much as possible.
School Aged Children
Sending a child off to school for the first time can be daunting for both child and parent. Almost as much so for the parents as they are now part something much bigger than themselves as their children are encouraged to show independence.
Even if your child has been in pre-school or day care, generally there would have been someone making sure they ate their lunch and snacks at the right time. However now it’s up to your child if and when they want to eat their lunch. And they have more opportunities than ever to eat food outside of what you provide, swapping and trading lunches with friends and access to that glorious magical place, the canteen.
Sending your child to school with a healthy lunch box that they will eat and enjoy is a challenge every day.
According to the Australian Dental Association, typically foods that can contribute to dental decay include those high in sugar such as concentrated fruit snack bars, sweets, muesli bars and sugary beverages and juices. This is because the sugar feeds the destructive bacteria in children’s mouths, which in turn puts acid on your child’s teeth. Refined foods such as savoury, starchy crackers and chips can also have high carbohydrate (sugar) content.
A well-balanced diet is important for children to maintain healthy lifestyle and good oral health. Making sure you have on hand a wide variety of dentally healthy snacks and foods including nuts, vegetables, yogurt and fruit will help your children will make the right choices for their diet.
Our children should start visiting the dentist before they even have a full set of teeth! It seems a little odd considering they have little teeth; however our teeth are one of the first things we develop in the womb. Our teeth are there even before we see them.
The best time
The best time to bring children in for their first dental care appointment is by their first birthday and regular appointments should start from between two and four years. First dental care visits are about getting your children used to the dentist and the dental chair. We show them a toothbrush and show you and your children how they can start using it. A child’s first dental care visit is as much for the parents benefit as it is for the children.
It’s important to visit the dentist from such an early age because as soon as we have any teeth we are at risk of contracting tooth decay. Dental care is all about prevention and as they say prevention is better than cure. At Somerset Dental care we recommend you and your children have your teeth cleaned every six months. Combined with a dental x-ray every two years, check-ups ensure optimal dental health so that invasive and expensive treatments can be avoided.
Dentists are ‘scary’
Dentists have the age old stigma of being ‘scary’; this is because people have had a negative dental care experience. As a result, people avoid visiting the dentist due to their bad experiences. The longer we leave our dental care appointment, the more chance there is for a build-up of dental care issues, such as tooth filling, root canal, tooth extraction and more.
We want to prevent your children having such a negative experience from the get go. Going to the dentist every six months for teeth cleaning is said to prevent tooth decay tenfold. Many people who have had regular check-ups from an early age have still avoided having a tooth filling to this day. By going to the dentist regularly and from an early age, the dentist will be a very positive experience.
Baby teeth are important too
It is just as important for children to visit the dentist for baby teeth as adult teeth. Problems and tooth decay in baby teeth can lead to serious oral issues for adult teeth, which is why it is important to visit a dentist for dental care from an early age. Children with tooth decay in baby teeth will either require tooth extraction or tooth filling and this can be an unnerving experience. Just by having a regular teeth cleaning and fluoride treatment this can be very easily avoided.
At Somerset Dental care we offer the Child Dental Benefit Schedule, a government incentive that allows eligible children between the ages two and 17years access to basic dental services of up to $1000. If you are unsure whether your child may be eligible or unsure when is the best time to bring in your children for an appointment, call the Somerset Dental Team today on 4648 0909.
Healthy teeth are essential to the wellbeing of our children. Aside from brushing, flossing and regular checkups and cleans, we can keep our kids’ teeth strong by ensuring they eat the right foods, even when at school.
The Dangers of Sugary Foods
Despite their popularity, many snack foods often contain unhealthy amounts of sugar. These include foods like:
- Biscuits & cookies
- Lollies & chocolate
- Fizzy drinks or high-sugar juices/cordials
- Sugar-based snacks, like ‘roll ups’
- Sticky foods, like muesli and cereal bars, that stick to the teeth
Sugar creates growing conditions for bacteria, which can soften tooth enamel and cause many teeth problems, including cavities and decay. Of course, this can lead to more trips to the family dentist, which can also become costly.
Teeth-Friendly Lunch Ideas
When it comes to filling your child’s lunchbox, you should stay away from sugary foods as much as possible and instead substitute these with healthy lunches and snacks.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide children with essential vitamins and minerals – and they are also good for teeth. To help the generation of saliva, which neutralises harmful acids in the mouth, pack pieces of water-based fruits and veggies (like pears, melons, cucumbers) in your kids’ lunchboxes.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables (like apples, celery and carrots) are also good to include, while oranges and kiwi fruits are great for Vitamin C, which contributes to healthy gums.
Calcium is extremely important for healthy teeth and bones in children and so dairy foods are excellent for your kids’ lunches. Plain milk, cheese and yoghurt are good choices and many of these are available in fun, small-size packs from the supermarket. If you go for yoghurt, make sure it is low in fat and sugar.
Many protein-based foods are high in Vitamin D, which assists the body in both absorbing protein and calcium and hardening teeth enamel. In addition to dairy, be sure to include foods like fish, meat and eggs in your child’s lunches, whether in a sandwich or on their own.
Water is considered the healthiest thirst-quencher for kids. Tap water, which often contains fluoride, is ideal for your children’s teeth – and it’s also incredibly cost effective.
In general, try to discourage your child from drinking soft drinks, cordials, sports drinks or juices that contain lots of sugar. Giving your child a bottle of water, as well as some milk, to drink at school can be a great idea and it means they get a little bit of variety in their lunchbox.
Other Toothy Lunchbox Ideas
- Get creative with your kids’ lunches! Try things like baked beans, soups, rice, pasta, corn on the cob, meat kebabs or even healthy pizza slices
- Make sure your kids’ lunchboxes contain a balance of each of the food groups and be wary of including too much of one thing
- When making sandwiches, use brown or grained bread, rather than plain white; this is much healthier and is good for teeth too
- If your kid doesn’t like eating vegetables on their own, try including them on a sandwich instead; tomatoes, lettuce and thinly sliced or grated vegetables can be lots of fun to eat
- Green leafed vegetables, like spinach and Chinese cabbage, are great in sandwiches and other dishes too and are also high in calcium
- If you want to give your child sugary treats, encourage them to eat these after their sandwich or main lunch meal; since the mouth produces saliva during meals, it will help to neutralise acid production from the sweets
At Somerset Dental Care, we specialise in kids’ dentistry. We can ensure your children feel comfortable and easy during dentist visits. To book, contact our friendly dentists in Campbelltown, Harrington Park or Picton.