Oral health and your child
Here at Footsteps we are committed to supporting our parents, carers and families in looking after the health and happiness of all the children. Oral health is an important part of every child’s physical and emotional wellbeing. It impacts on the ability for children to eat and sleep, to socialise with confidence and to concentrate.
However, many children experience problems with their oral health. Tooth decay affects around a quarter of five-year olds in England and it is also the leading cause of hospital admissions for five to nine-year-olds. We need to remember that tooth decay is preventable. If a child is suffering from tooth decay they need to see a dentist, but we can take steps to help prevent children’s oral health from deteriorating to that stage.
We’ve rounded up the best advice from the professionals to help your children protect their teeth and gums and greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities:
- Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as the first milk tooth breaks through (usually at around 6 months, but it can be earlier or later).
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque -the sticky film on teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay.
- Teeth should be brushed last thing at night as this means the fluoride continues to protect their child’s teeth whilst they are in bed.
- Parents and carers should brush or supervise tooth brushing of their child’s teeth until they are at least seven years old.
- From 4 years, children should floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
- Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods, which produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack.
- Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
- Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups.
What Brushing Techniques Can I Show My Child?
You should supervise your children until they get the hang of these simple steps:
- Make tooth brushing as fun as possible by using an egg timer to time it for about 2 minutes.
- Use a pea-sized blob of a fluoride toothpaste. Take care that your child does not swallow the toothpaste.
- Guide your child’s hand so they can feel the correct movement.
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush the inside surface of each tooth first, where plaque may accumulate most. Brush gently back and forth.
- Clean the outer surfaces of each tooth. Angle the brush along the outer gum line. Gently brush back and forth.
- Brush the chewing surface of each tooth. Gently brush back and forth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean behind each front tooth, both top and bottom.
- Use a mirror to help your child see exactly where the brush is cleaning their teeth.
- Don’t forget – it’s always fun to brush the tongue!
Teaching your child proper oral care at a young age is an investment in their health that will pay lifelong dividends. The best way to start is by setting a great example. Taking good care of your own teeth sends a message that oral health is something to be valued. And anything that makes taking care of teeth fun, like brushing along with your child or letting them choose their own toothbrush, encourages proper oral care.
If you have any concerns about your child’s oral health please don’t hesitate to ask your dentist.