Giving your children the right start can help them to have healthy teeth for life!
As adults, we are able to take responsibility for our own oral health care. If we choose not to see a dentist, then we have to own the fact that this is very likely to lead to a variety of dental issues over time. Children do not have the ability to make these choices, and, as parents, it is our responsibility to take care of them.
Having a young child can be overwhelming; especially if it is your first child. There are so many things to consider and worry about, that their dental health may barely register, especially before they even have any teeth. To help our patients from the Camden area who are new parents, we have put together a simple ‘how to’ guide below which should help your children’s teeth to be strong and healthy.
Even though no teeth may have erupted at this stage, we generally advise parents to bring their child to see us around the time of their first birthday. It is very unlikely that any problems will be present at this stage, but an examination may help us guide you towards better oral care for them. In addition to this, exposing a young child to the sights, sounds and smells of a dental environment is likely to make them feel more comfortable with seeing a dentist as they become older.
It is rare to meet a child that doesn’t like sweets, and usually lots of them! This is a time when tooth decay can really start to take hold. Although they will eventually lose their first teeth, no parent wants to see a child in pain with a toothache. Do try to monitor their sugar intake and keep it to a reasonable level. Also, make sure that they brush their teeth both morning and evening; not allowing any food after they have brushed their teeth at night. You should also supervise them whilst they brush, until they are old enough to be trusted to do this correctly themselves.
We also recommend that you use an electric toothbrush for children. If they are tired, the brush will do much of the work and be more effective than a manual brush. It is also a good idea to involve your child in choosing their brush and an appropriate for their age toothpaste. Do be careful to check that the toothpaste contains fluoride though. Whilst the vast majority do, some ‘natural’ ones may not. Fluoride strengthens the enamel on your teeth and helps to protect them from tooth decay.
Regular check ups at the Primrose Hill Dental Practice are also necessary at this stage. Not only can we detect and treat any problems before they become advanced, but we can offer preventative intervention in the form of treatments such as fissure sealants. These can dramatically reduce the incidences of decay in young children.
This is an age where, as parents, we begin to lose an element of control over our children. This is a necessary part of them growing up, and the best that we can often do is to be there to support and guide them when they make mistakes. Unfortunately, dental neglect is often one of the common mistakes that teenagers make. Going to the dentist may not seem to be a ‘cool’ thing to do, but especially at this age, when we have less control of what they eat outside the home, many dental problems can easily arise. Not only is tooth decay likely if this happens, but serious gum health issues, such as periodontitis, may also occur and which can have a significant effect on their long term well being. Indeed, periodontitis has also recently been linked with a number of serious illnesses such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Try to encourage your teenage children to see us regularly for a check up. This may not be easy, but your child will thank you for it as they grow up. We also recommend that you book them in for a hygienist appointment. Because teenagers commonly challenge ‘authoritative figures’ such as parents; seeing Sam Jarvis our dental hygienist, is a great way for them to be able to learn about oral health care in a relaxed environment. In addition to this, and perhaps especially relevant in the era of ‘selfies’, he will be able to offer them a professional clean which will not only help to keep their mouths in better health, but can also remove some of the surface staining incurred through daily activities. A whiter smile will certainly look better on social media!
Although it may be hard work persuading your child of the need for seeing a dentist, early habits often stay with them throughout their life, and a little time invested will pay off handsomely, helping them to have healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives.
If you would like to make an appointment for your child, or for yourself, you can arrange to see a dentist at the Primrose Hill Dental Practice, by calling us on 020 7722 0860.