July is Oral Health Month here in New Zealand. Encouraging the care of healthy teeth in little ones is something I am really passionate about as diet plays a fundamental role in this – especially avoiding sugary drinks. Currently 5000 children a year under the age of two get their teeth extracted under a general anesthetic (in New Zealand). This is heart breaking and something I am determined to help change – and so is Dr Domonique Joe of WM Dental who has a guest blog with loads of helpful tips for us!
Healthy Teeth Tips from a Mum and Dentist
Many parents are surprised to know that tooth decay can start from the age of one. Dental decay in young children can cause toothache, pain and infection. Losing a tooth too soon can result in speech disorders, crooked permanent teeth and poor self-esteem. As a dentist I have seen first hand how badly children suffer from tooth decay. No amount of hugs, love or paracetamol can soothe a child with tooth ache. Prevention is definitely better than the cure.
As a mum of 3 young boys, I know good dental health starts early. The first place children learn about oral health is at home. Parents, you are the greatest teachers of dental health for your children. Instil and reinforce good habits like brushing and flossing at home. Educate your children about the dangers of sugary foods, and their healthy alternatives. Also, don’t forget to make their first visit to the dentist a positive experience. It is essential to lead by example – your own dental habits will shape your children’s habits.
Some helpful tips for you and your children:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. After breakfast and before bed. Brush while looking in the mirror to make sure you’re not missing any surfaces of your teeth. Soft bristles and small tooth brush heads are best. Either a manual or electric tooth brush are fine, as long as you are cleaning all sides of your teeth.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste. Studies show fluoride strengthens enamel and reduces decay. Remember to encourage your child to spit out after brushing.
- Floss nightly. No tooth brush will get between the teeth.
- Seeing the dentist. Children’s first dental visit should be before their second birthday. Make it a family visit. Your dentist will make sure your child has no hidden decay. We also look out for anything that may affect their adult teeth. Most importantly, make your child’s visit a positive experience.
Remember, good dental health starts early.
I also have a helpful vlog on the amount of sugar in some common drinks for children and a great Homemade Strawberry Milk recipe as a healthy alternative.
Plus I will be talking more about sugar and the relationship with sleep (for both little ones and mums) at my upcoming Sugar & Sleep Workshop (tickets nearly sold out!).
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale