How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?
The main cause of tooth decay is not the amount of sugar in the diet, but how often it is eaten or drunk. The more often your child has sugary foods or drinks, the more likely they are to have decay. It is therefore important to keep sugary foods to mealtimes only. If you want to give your child a snack, try to stick to cheese, vegetables and fruit, but not dried fruit.
If your child has acidic fruit juices/fruit i.e. oranges, regularly this can cause acid erosion in the teeth. We advise that after your child has had acidic foods or drinks that they wash their mouth out with plain water to get rid of any excess acid. They must not brush their teeth for at least an hour after consuming acidic foods or drinks.
Thorough brushing twice a day, particularly last thing at night, will help to prevent tooth decay.
How should I clean my child's teeth?
Cleaning your child's teeth should be part of their daily hygiene routine. When the first teeth start to come through, try using a children's toothbrush with a small smear of toothpaste. It is important to supervise your child's brushing until they are at least seven. Once all the teeth have come through, use a small-headed soft toothbrush in small circular movements and try to concentrate on one section at a time. Don't forget to brush gently behind the teeth and onto the gums. If possible make tooth brushing a routine – preferably in the morning, and last thing before your child goes to bed. Remember to encourage your child, as praise will often get results!
Should I use fluoride toothpaste?
Fluoride comes from a number of different sources including toothpaste, specific fluoride applications and perhaps the drinking water in your area. These can all help to prevent tooth decay. The current advice is to use a pea-sized smear of toothpaste containing at least 1000ppm of fluoride. You can check the level of fluoride on the packaging of the toothpaste. Children should be supervised up to the age of 7, and you should make sure that they spit out the toothpaste and don't swallow any if possible.
What sort of brush should children use?
There are many different types of children's toothbrushes available, including brightly coloured brushes, some of which change colour, those with favourite characters on the handles, and some with timers. These all encourage children to brush their teeth. The most important point is to use a small-headed toothbrush with soft, nylon bristles, suitable for the age of your child.
When should I take my child to the dentist?
It is recommended that children should go to the dentist with their parents as soon as possible. You should then take them regularly, as often as your dentist recommends. This will let them get used to the noises, smells and surroundings and prepare them for future visits. The earlier these visits begin, the more relaxed the children will be.
What if my child is nervous about going to the dentist?
Children can sense fear in their parents, so it is important to let your child feel that a visit to the dentist is nothing to be worried about. Try to be supportive if your child needs to have any dental treatment. If you have any fears of your own about going to the dentist, don't discuss them in front of your child. Regular visits to the dentist are essential in helping your child to get used to the surroundings and what goes on there. A child can be much more anxious if it is their first visit to a dental practice. Pain and distress can happen at any time and it is important to prepare your child with regular visits.