Teeth are essential for talking, eating and smiling so it’s vital you instil good oral health in your little one from the word go.
Children’s teeth start to develop before they are born and some are even born with them (Caesar and Napoleon are rumoured to have been born with teeth). Children usually have up to 20 milk teeth before their permanent teeth erupt. Permanent teeth usually begin to erupt when a child reaches the age of 7 and continue to erupt until the child is about 13. Adults have about 32 teeth in total!
Common child dental health problems
Tooth decay: Tooth decay is caused by excess acids in the mouth that can weaken the tooth enamel. Our mouths are full of bacteria that help digest sugar in our food and drinks. When we consume too much sugar our mouths produce excess acid leading to weakened tooth enamel.
Dental erosion: This is when the enamel on the teeth wears away due to acids in sugary foods, fizzy drinks, fruit juices and squashes.
How can I prevent tooth decay and dental erosion in my child’s teeth?
As soon as your child’s milk teeth come through you can start brushing their teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. Children under three should use toothpaste that contains 1,000ppm fluoride. Children over three should use toothpaste that contains between 1,350 and 1,500ppm fluoride.
When your child reaches the age of 7, teach them how to brush their own teeth using a gentle, circular motion. Ensure you show them how to clean the gums too by holding the toothbrush halfway over the teeth and halfway over the gums on both the upper and lower jaws.
2. Visit your dentist regularly
Start taking your child to the dentist with you whenever you go for a check-up. Your dentist will start by informally examining your child’s mouth.
3. Avoid giving your child sugary drinks, sweets and snacks
It’s particularly easy to spoil our children with sweets and sugary snacks but in the long run all we are really spoiling is their smile and future confidence.
Remember; tooth decay in children is usually the cause of too many acids attacking the teeth. Our mouths are full of bacteria that help digest some of the sugar in our food or drink. If we eat or drink a lot of sugar, our mouths will naturally produce excess acid which can in turn lead to tooth decay.
The best way to prevent tooth decay is to limit sugary drinks, food and snacks, especially between meals. Replace sugary sweets and snacks with healthier options such as cheese, fruit and milk and finish a meal with an alkaline snack such as cheese or milk.
Also, watch out for hidden sugar in foods such as cereals and sauces.
4. Use an electric or battery powered toothbrush
Investing in an electric or battery powered toothbrush for your child could help them maintain even better levels of dental hygiene. These toothbrushes are clinically proven to be more effective at cleaning the teeth than manually operated toothbrushes.
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