At Reva Dental we treat lots of children and we always encourage preventive care for our young patients. Teaching your child proper oral care at a young age is an investment in his or her health that will pay lifelong dividends. The best way to start is by setting an 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.
To help your children protect their teeth and gums and greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, teach them to follow these simple steps:
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque – the sticky film on teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay
- Floss daily to remove plaque from between teeth and under the gumline, 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-the extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from the mouth.
- Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
- Make sure that your child’s drinking water is fluoridated. The mains water supply in Ireland is generally fluoridated (0-8 1 parts per million). However in any cases where your child is not drinking fluoridated water (e.g. bottled water) your dentist or paediatrician may prescribe daily fluoride supplements.
- Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups.
What Brushing Techniques Can I Show My Child?
You may want to supervise your children until they get the hang of these simple steps:
- Use a pea-sized dab of a good fluoride toothpaste. Take care that your child does not swallow the toothpaste.
- 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 gumline. 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.
- It’s always fun to brush the tongue!
When Should My Child Begin Flossing?
Because flossing removes food particles and plaque between teeth that brushing misses, you should floss for your children beginning at age 4. By the time they reach age 8, most kids can begin flossing for themselves.
How Important is Diet to My Child’s Oral Health?
A balanced diet is necessary for your child to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth. In addition to a full range of vitamins and minerals, a child’s diet should include plenty of calcium, phosphorous, and proper levels of fluoride.
If fluoride is your child’s greatest protection against tooth decay, then frequent snacking may be the biggest enemy. The sugars and starches found in many foods and snacks like cookies, candies, dried fruit, soft drinks, pretzels and potato chips combine with plaque on teeth to create acids. These acids attack the tooth enamel and may lead to cavities.
Each “plaque attack” can last up to 20 minutes after a meal or snack has been finished. Even a little nibble can create plaque acids. So it’s best to limit snacking between meals.
What Should I Do if My Child Chips, Breaks or Knocks Out a Tooth?
With any injury to your child’s mouth, you should contact your dentist immediately. The dentist will want to examine the affected area and determine appropriate treatment.
If your child is in pain from a broken, cracked or chipped tooth, you should visit the dentist immediately. If possible, keep any part of the tooth that has broken off and take this with you to the dentist.
If a tooth is completely knocked out of the mouth by an injury, take the tooth to your dentist as soon as possible. Handle the tooth as little as possible — do not wipe or otherwise clean the tooth. Store the tooth in water or milk until you get to a dentist. It may be possible for the tooth to be placed back into your child’s mouth, a procedure called reimplantation.
Moe information on children’s oral health is available here
Ask your dentist’s advice on looking after your children’s teeth; you can call Reva Dental on (056) 7763786 to schedule an appointment; see www.revadental.ie