Helping your child to look after their teeth

According to a survey, 99.7% of adults believe that great teeth are an important personal asset. But dental health starts way before adulthood. In fact, good oral hygiene habits begin in early childhood.

That’s why, this Children’s Dental Health Month, we are helping parents to understand what it takes to look after their children’s teeth; so that they can have a great smile now, and for years to come.

The state of children’s dental health in the UK

In 2015, Public Health England released data showing that one in four young children have tooth decay, affecting 3-4 of their teeth. Three school days per year are missed due to poor dental health. Just 58.2% of children are estimated to visit a dentist regularly.

It’s a national problem, but your child doesn’t have to be part of the shocking statistics.

There are things you can do, and steps you can encourage your child to take, to improve their chances of having a beautiful smile.

Reducing their sugar intake

The likelihood of tooth decay increases as children consume more sugar.

According to a Public Health England report from June 2018, children consume more than a years’ worth of sugar in 6 months. That is a staggering amount of sugars all contributing toward premature tooth decay.

This problem is exacerbated when sugar is eaten at bedtime. Our advice is to make healthy food choices for your child. Don’t allow them to drink too much fruit juice or fizzy drinks. Limit their intake of sweets and snacks. Not only will this improve their dental health, it will improve their health overall.

Brushing children’s teeth twice per day

The fact is, we can prevent tooth decay in 90% of children if they clean their teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. This should begin when your child is a baby. Use a baby toothbrush with a tiny amount of toothpaste. At this stage in their lives, the act of brushing builds a habit to last throughout their childhood.

As they get older and as their teeth grow, you should gradually start to brush your child’s teeth more thoroughly and regularly.

Many young children will resist the idea of brushing their teeth. You can make it more fun and appealing by letting them choose their own toothbrush and rewarding them for good oral care. Use a timer and set it to two minutes to get them into the habit of brushing for long enough. They will need help brushing up until the age of 7-8.

Should you floss your child’s teeth?

Children should begin flossing as soon as they have teeth surfaces next to each other. Parents should help young children to floss at least once per day.

Guarding your child’s teeth during sport

Children are prone to accidents, so if they play sports, you should get them a mouth guard. It is a soft, plastic retainer that covers the teeth and protects them from knocks, bangs and injuries.

Taking your child to the dentist regularly

You should first take your child to the dentist when their first teeth arrive. This is usually around six months old. The dentist can provide advice on how best to look after your baby’s teeth and identify any problems.

Ensure you take your child to the dentist every six months. Regular visits get kids used to the dentist’s chair and help to get them into the good habit of regular check-ups later in life.

From the age of seven, your child’s dentist may suggest a sealant, which stops bacteria from settling into the grooves of their molars.

Will my child need a brace?

Your child will begin losing their baby teeth between the ages of 6-12. Once the last baby tooth drops out, your dentist will be able to advise you on whether your child will need a brace.

Treatment usually lasts from 18 months to 2 years, and visits to the orthodontist are needed every 6 to 8 weeks.

If your child requires braces, but they are reluctant to have them, it’s important that you gently explain the benefits to them. When teeth are crowded and crooked, they are more difficult to clean, and your child will be at higher risk of developing cavities or inflamed gums.

It’s important to remember that not all children will qualify for NHS treatment, as there is a set criterion, known as the IOTN, and only those which meet the criteria will be treated. This may mean those with minor irregularities may not be offered NHS treatment but are still able to opt for private orthodontics.

At Only Orthodontics, we offer two fixed brace options for children’s teeth. The first, under our Accessible plan, is the traditional metal bracket which is fitted to the front of the teeth (£99 per month). For a slightly higher monthly price (£109), we also offer the Accessible Plus option of clear ceramic braces, which are ideal for children who may feel conscious about the idea of having braces.

Both options include an initial consultation, a digital scan of the teeth and easy monthly payment plans. Under the Accessible Plus plan, patients also have the option of extended opening times, if you would prefer your child to not take time out of school for appointments.

Encouraging child to wear their retainer

Once your child has perfect teeth, it’s important to keep them that way. A retainer will hold their teeth in the position the braces moved them to. If they don’t wear it, their teeth will move back to their original position.

You should encourage your child to wear their retainer every night. Teeth can move quickly, so missing just one or two nights can make the retainer feel painful.

If you are considering orthodontic treatment for your child, get in touch with our specialists to discover how they can benefit from our high-quality services.