How Can My Child Get Healthy Teeth?
What Food and Drinks are best for Healthy Teeth?
Giving your baby or toddler a bottle of milk at bedtime dramatically increases their risk of getting holes in their teeth. This is known as ‘early childhood caries’ or ‘baby bottle tooth decay’. The milk pools in their mouth as they sleep and the sugar in the milk causes holes in your baby’s teeth. If your baby really needs a bottle at bedtime, fill it with water, not milk. When your baby is 6 months old or when they get their first tooth, introduce a sippy-cup for them to drink from, which forces them to suck the liquid instead of it pooling around their teeth.
Fresh food is better for children’s health and better for their teeth. You can encourage your child to choose fresh food by making it fun. Get them involved in the cooking process, and make food into fun shapes.
Sugar is a key cause of decay in kids’ teeth. Watch your child’s intake of sugary food and drink, and choose food that is not processed or packaged as these tend to be healthier. When shopping, teach your child to read the food labels to check the sugar content of food.
Many breakfast cereals are high in sugar – choose a low-sugar alternative such as rolled oats to get their day off to a good start.
Making school lunches can be a rush in the morning. Ideally, your child’s lunch box will include a wholegrain sandwich or roll with a healthy filling, plus cheese, fruit and water. Many school canteens now offer healthy options, so make sure you know what’s on your school’s menu.
Frequent snacking can increase a child’s risk of decay. Cavities can develop when sugar-containing foods are allowed to stay in the mouth for a long time. If your child eats snacks between meals, give them healthy snacks such as cheese, vegetable sticks and fruit.
After snacking, encourage them to drink water to wash away the bacteria and acid that eats away at tooth enamel. Tap water is the best choice as it contains fluoride, which helps keep teeth strong. Soft drinks, sports drinks are high-sugar and high acid, which erodes tooth enamel.
When Should My Child Brush and Floss?
Your child should brush and floss twice daily for at least 2 minutes. You should start cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as they emerge, and start teaching them to brush with a children’s toothpaste. They will need your help until their coordination develops. Some parents use a brushing chart to encourage children to mark off in the morning and night, and others use a brushing app or distract their child with music to get them to brush for a full 2 minutes.
When Should My Child Start Visiting the Dentist?
Once your child turns 3, they need regular dental check-ups to ensure any problems are detected and fixed quickly. Whilst baby teeth are temporary, they affect the position and health of the adult teeth so need to be kept healthy. As your child’s adult teeth start erupting, your dentist may take x-rays to ensure teeth are coming through in the right position and identify if additional treatment, such as orthodontics, are needed.