Dental Care for Children

source - Kind beim Zähneputzen © sabine hürdler

source – Kind beim Zähneputzen © sabine hürdler

Taking care of your children’s teeth from an early age is vital for ensuring that good dental hygiene continues into adulthood. By teaching your children how to care for their teeth properly and explaining to them why, they will begin to understand how important it is. Brushing your teeth doesn’t only look after your oral hygiene but contributes to your overall health too.

Dental care should begin from the moment your child gets their first tooth. This will make sure that their teeth are clean and that they become familiar with a cleaning routine. The first tooth usually begins to break through at around six months old and so it is your responsibility to make sure that they are kept clean. Brush any that are visible twice daily using an appropriate toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste. It is also a good idea to floss your children’s teeth but if you are unsure ask your dentist for guidance.

As children become older you will be able to assist them in brushing their teeth allowing them to get a feel for how it’s done.  At three years of age and up to six years of age children should be using a pea sized amount of toothpaste and again a toothbrush suitable for their age. It isn’t necessary to use toothpaste that is specifically targeted at children and can in fact be less effective. A standard family tube will suffice as long as it contains 1,350 – 1,500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride.

It is important to make sure that you supervise your child’s tooth brushing up until around eight years of age. At this age they should be able to manage brushing on their own however it is a good idea to check on how they are getting on every now and again.

To make sure that your children are brushing correctly you will need to make sure that you explain to them how it is done. You can do this by guiding your child’s hand and by using a mirror so that they can see where to brush. Ensure that they brush the tops of the teeth, the fronts of the teeth and the backs of the teeth for at least two minutes every morning and every night. You should also encourage your children to brush their tongue in order to remove any food and bacteria. A dirty tongue is the biggest cause of bad breath and by cleaning it you can easily prevent it. Flossing is also important and should therefore be encouraged too. After brushing children should spit out any excess toothpaste from their mouth however they should not rinse with water. This can wash away the fluoride which is good for protecting the teeth.

As well as carrying out good dental care at home your children should be visiting the dentist every six months. Take your child to the dentist as soon as the milk teeth start to appear so that they become familiar with its surroundings. Children who go at a later age can become frightened of the noises and smells which is quite often why in later life adults don’t go. By taking them as early as possible you can reassure children that the dentist isn’t a place to be scared of and that it is important to carry on going.  Make visits to the dentist as fun as possible and children should have no problem going.

Visiting the dentist is important for identifying any underlying issues that may be present, and for ensuring that good dental hygiene is present. Remember NHS dental treatment is available to children for free up until the age of eighteen.