Oral Care: Taking Care of Your Child's Dental Health
Taking care of a child’s teeth is just as crucial as maintaining adult teeth. Since they are young, it is best to instil good oral habits to ensure the best oral health promotion. Here are some tips you can use as a guide to take good care of your child’s teeth.
Basic Dental Tips
Brushing and flossing
Brushing and flossing are fundamental when it comes to taking care of dental health. When you brush and floss, it gets rid bits of food stuck in the teeth and gums. When brushing, you should make sure your child is cleaning every part of their mouth - the front teeth, the back teeth, in between the teeth and gums and the tongue. This helps in clearing out the area bacteria thrives the most.
It is incredibly crucial to inculcate the habit of brushing and flossing teeth to your child at least twice a day - once in the morning and the evening. Make sure they are not brushing too hard to preserve the enamel of the teeth.
With flossing, you should be able to hear a “pop” sound when going between teeth to teeth. This ensures thorough cleaning.
Using fluoride toothpaste
As soon as your child starts developing teeth, you should encourage using fluoride toothpaste when brushing. As fluoride is essential in the teeth’ demineralisation and remineralisation process, they help resist decay and prevent tooth cavities. No more than a smear (grain-sized amount) should be used for babies below three years of age. For children between 3-6 years of age, a pea-sized amount is recommended.
However, you should try to supervise your children when he is brushing his teeth to ensure that he is spitting along the way. Too much fluoride can lead to white stains on the teeth and can cause tooth decay.
Having a healthy diet
Providing your child with a well-balanced diet from young is essential to ensure they receive the fundamental nutrients for healthy growth and development, which help in dental health. A diet that lacks the right vitamins and minerals can cause your child’s baby teeth to develop incorrectly, increasing the risk of early tooth decay and gum disease in the future.
Therefore, it is important to introduce healthy food choices into your child’s diet from an early age for proper growth.
Your child’s diet should include foods from the three food groups: carbohydrates, fats and protein, and lots of vitamins and minerals. Some good examples include eggs, berries, meat, tofu, fish, cheese, broccoli and milk. Here are some examples of types of foods recommended for your child:
Eat low cariogenic food in moderation
Low cariogenic foods are unrefined carbohydrates with no added sugar. They have higher fibre content which helps to remove dental plaque. However, this food must be eaten in moderation, as they can potentially lead to tooth decay without having good oral habits.
Regulate the amount of cariostatic food
Cariostatic foods do not worsen or improve the health of your mouth. They work to neutralise the acids in your mouth and do not contribute to enamel demineralisation. These include milk, cheese and nuts.
Eat more anti-cariogenic foods
Anti-cariogenic foods protect your teeth from tooth decay. Food from this group does not contribute to any acid formation in the oral cavity and cushions your tooth enamel against the effects of cariogenic foods.
Avoiding sweets and sticky food
Although unhealthy, children can still consume sugary items in moderation. However, sweet foods like raisins, cookies, jelly beans, caramel, honey and syrup stick to teeth, making it difficult for saliva to wash the sugar away. Sugar fuels the bacteria already in our mouths to create acid, which erodes the teeth’ protective layer. To protect your child’s teeth, if these foods are consumed, you should brush their teeth immediately after eating to prevent tooth decay and cavities.
You should also control the amount of fruit juice your child drinks. While fruits are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, fruit juices are not the same. Most of the time, a large number of artificial sweeteners are mixed into these fruit juices. Instead, you should have your child drink vegetable juices as they are much more nutritious.
Some Additional Tips on Encouraging Good Eating Habits
- Do not allow your baby or toddler to fall asleep with his milk bottle in his mouth.
- Offer healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts instead of sugary treats like candy and cakes.
- Foods that contain sugar are safer for teeth when they are eaten as part of a meal, instead of a snack.
- Use a straw when drinking sugary drinks to reduce exposure time.
- Consume sugary foods at a go instead of over a period.
- Stop your child from storing food in his mouth (like a chipmunk).
- Avoid consuming food after brushing his teeth before bedtime to ensure no remaining food particles are stuck in the mouth.
Children should visit the dentist regularly as six months to ensure proper dental care by detecting any early signs of oral problems. With good dental hygiene in the early stages, permanent teeth will have a reduced risk of dental issues in the future as well.
At Nuffield Dental, we are dedicated to providing a comfortable and safe environment for our patients, especially children. Do not hesitate to visit your friendly Nuffield Dental dentist or Oral Health Therapist if you require further guidance and information on caring for your child’s teeth. Visit any one of our ten clinics islandwide for your child’s next dental visit and achieve the best smile for your child.