19 Jun 2020
6 min read
Would you like to help your child to maintain a healthy mouth for life?
Helping them to get into a good oral health routine and, in particular, teaching them how to keep plaque at bay, gives them a great start.
The bacteria found in plaque is the major cause of gum disease, which is estimated to affect more than half of adults in the UK.
It has been linked to a number of major health problems, including heart attacks and heart disease.
Here are 3 steps to help your child to prevent plaque and to enjoy a healthy mouth:
It is best to brush in the morning and just before bedtime.
You can buy a baby toothbrush or smaller toothbrushes made for children, which should have soft to medium nylon bristles. Changing toothbrushes regularly helps your child to maintain healthy teeth.
With younger children, supervise brushing by doing it yourself or by watching to make sure they’re brushing well.
Children aged between three and six years old should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
So at what age should a child start brushing their own teeth?
Your child should be able to brush their own teeth from the age of seven or eight but you should still check to make sure they are brushing properly for a full two minutes.
The fluoride in toothpaste helps to protect and strengthen teeth, which can prevent and control tooth decay.
Children under the age of six can use a children’s toothpaste with a lower concentration of fluoride. Some children’s toothpastes do not have enough fluoride to help prevent tooth decay so please make sure it contains at least 1,000ppm.
Children aged six and over can use a normal family toothpaste provided it falls within the 1,350-1,500 ppm range.
Sugary food and drinks are a major cause of tooth decay.
When we eat or drink things like sweets or fizzy drinks, the sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque to make acids, which attack the enamel on teeth.
Because plaque is sticky, the acids stay in contact with the teeth. If the enamel is constantly attacked by acid it can break down and a cavity - a small hole - can form.
Although fruit contains acids, it will only be damaging to teeth if we eat an excessive amount.
According to the Oral Health Foundation, “a diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease”.
Sticky, dried fruits, meanwhile, stay on the teeth for longer and can damage your teeth. It’s important to rinse with water after eating and, if possible, to brush their teeth.
The dentist will examine your child’s teeth and gums to make sure everything is healthy and to spot any dental problems at an early stage. Your dentist can also remove any build-up of plaque and tartar (hardened plaque).
It is important to get your child into the habit of visiting the dentist to help them on their way to enjoying good dental health for the rest of their life.