n the UK the story of childrens dental care is a success story. Fluoride toothpaste was introduced in 1973 and since then the dental health of the nations children has consistently improved until now 12 year old children in England have the best teeth in Europe. In England 60% of children start secondary school with no tooth decay and the UKs dental health is the best since records began. However the younger children are not doing so well. Five year olds come in seventh for dental health in Europe. It has further been discovered that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are 50% more likely to have dental problems like tooth decay.
Although some areas add fluoride to the water that we drink there is a school of thought that its too little to make any effect. Toothpaste and brushing teeth is the most effective contribution to childrens good dental health. This is why children must learn early about good oral care to ensure that teeth and gums remain healthy.
Caring for your child’s teeth
To keep your childs teeth and gums healthy you must encourage a routine. Your child must grow up learning that cleaning teeth is an important aspect of personal hygiene. Some things to do to reinforce this can be brushing your baby’s gums with a soft toothbrush, with supervision you can even let your baby have a go him or herself. Just let them feel comfortable when using a toothbrush. If you do it at bath time then this way they are already beginning to understand that washing and teeth brushing go together.
Always use fluoride toothpaste and start when your baby has the first tooth. Around six months is an average time. By using a fluoride toothpaste you gain all the benefits that fluoride has relating to dental care and tooth protection. To be fully effective, children must get enough toothpaste on their toothbrush. If your child is less than three years old then just put a smear of your family toothpaste on the brush. The toothpaste must have more than 1,000ppm (parts per million) fluoride. As your children grow to between three and six, a pea sized drop of toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride should be used. Dont let your children eat or lick the toothpaste. Make sure that you read the label on the toothpaste box to ensure that it has enough fluoride. Less fluoride makes the toothpaste less effective at preventing decay.
Every time you brush your childs teeth make sure that the brushing lasts more than two minutes. Shortly after eating is always a good time to brush teeth but always brush at least two times everyday. Once just before bedtime and some other time everyday. Make sure that the toothpaste is spat out after brushing but dont use too much water. When your child reaches seven or eight years old then you can cut back on the supervising as long as they have learned the correct ways to brush their own teeth.
Good Oral Hygiene
Many children will not brush their teeth in the correct manner for long enough unless mum or dad are overseeing things. Try to keep it fun but impress on the children the importance of brushing properly. If the children are younger then help them brush, guide them with your hand or show them how you brush your teeth. A mirror is great because children can see what they are doing, and what they are missing! Two minutes can seem like a long time for a youngster. Try setting an alarm on your phones clock to beep when the time is up, or use a good old fashioned egg timer. And finally do keep control, dont let children run or jump with a toothbrush in their mouth because accidents do happen.
Visiting the dentist
Children should become familiar with the dentist. This makes everything easier, the dentist can carry out the examination and mum or dad doesnt have all the problems of a scared child. Because you have been brushing the teeth properly with fluoride toothpaste there shouldnt be too much for the dentist to do anyway!
To make things go smoothly you can take the child to the dentist when they are very young for their first check up and when you go for your check up take them along. If you go regularly then there is less chance of any unpleasant work having to be carried out and just getting young children to open their mouth can require a bit of practise.