Health and Wellness, Parenting

Oral Hygiene for Children

All children need to practice good oral hygiene to protect their teeth from tooth decay. Tooth decay is surprisingly at the top of the charts as the number one chronic childhood disease.

Looking after your children’s teeth is a key component to their general health. If your child gets tooth decay, cavities and gum disease, this is a problem in itself but it can also lead to further problems throughout the body. If your child maintains good oral hygiene, these diseases can be preventable.

Here are some regularly asked questions and tips on how to manage and maintain good oral hygiene in your children:

When is the right time to start brushing my child’s teeth? And how do I do it?

• If you can see it, clean it! As soon as the first primary teeth erupt into the oral cavity, parents should begin brushing their children’s teeth. This is normally around six months of age.
• Brush with a very soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head.
• Use a small smear (no bigger than a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste.
• Brush twice daily.
• When your child is at the right age to follow instructions (approx. 3 yrs) you can increase the amount of toothpaste (size of a pea) so they can spit it out on their own rather than swallowing it.
• Start by brushing the inside surface of each tooth first, where plaque may build up the most. Brush gently back and forth.
• Secondly brush the outer surfaces of each tooth and brush back and forth.
• Thirdly brush the chewing surface of each tooth, again brushing back and forth.
• Finally brush the tongue. You can make this fun for your child and get them to try and sing a song/rhyme as you are brushing their tongue.
• Brush the teeth for a minimum of 2 minutes. You can make this fun by playing a song and your child has to keep brushing until the song finishes.
• Replace your child’s toothbrush every 3-4 months.
• Your Child should be able to brush their own teeth by the age of 6/7. Until then, help them along until they grasp the hang of it.

Can my Child have milk when they sleep?

It is recommended that a baby never gets put to sleep with a bottle containing anything but water.
It is also recommended that night feeds should stop as teeth begin to emerge. Stopping milk at nap times and bedtime prevents the sugars in the formula and breast milk from coming into contact with the newly developing teeth.

Can my Child drink juice?

Many parents give their child fruit juice because it’s “made from fruit” and assumed to be healthy. However, this is not the case. Many fruit juices have added sugars. This is particularly problematic because the sugars and acids contribute to both tooth decay and weight gain

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