A recent survey in the UK found that every ten minutes a child has a rotten tooth removed in hospital. It remains the most common reason for hospital admissions for children aged five to nine years...
Thankfully there is a lot you can do to prevent this – even if all your child likes to do is suck the toothpaste from the brush. We asked Happy Kids Dental, the UK’s largest paediatric dental clinic (you have to see the practices, they look more like a playground than a dentist) how best to care for our little one’s teeth. And we have rounded up the essentials to keep them.
How do ensure you keep your kids teeth healthy? What are the top tips?
Dental problems are usually caused by of a combination of not enough brushing and/or fluoride and sugars in the diet. The most important tip is effective brushing twice a day. Last thing at bedtime after all meals/drinks and one other time during the day with an age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste.
With sugar intake, it is more the frequency of the sugars rather than quantity that causes the problem, hence ensuring that the snacks are healthy and sugar free (fruit, plain crackers, cheese, vegetables).
Is there anything many parents don't know but should be aware of?
Fluoride is the ingredient in the toothpaste that helps prevent cavities and strengthens the enamel. The water in London (and most parts of England) is not fluoridated hence it is imperative that the child is exposed to fluoride from the toothpaste. Another thing to be aware of is “spitting not rinsing” i.e after you’ve brushed your teeth, you must only spit out the excess toothpaste and not rinse out with water to ensure the fluoride has longer to work on your teeth.
How long ideally should children keep their baby teeth and why?
Ideally the baby teeth should be kept until they are naturally ready to fall out to allow sufficient room for the adult tooth to erupt. Losing baby teeth prematurely may cause the adult teeth to be crowded requiring braces.
Also is there a key toothbrush and toothpaste to use?
Irrespective of the brand, the most important ingredient in the toothpaste is fluoride; hence ensuring that your toothpaste has the correct amount of fluoride is enough! Generally speaking electric toothbrushes are recommended after the age of three years, however it does come down to personal preference. A paediatric dentist will be able to advise you on what type of toothbrush is best suited for your child.
And how do you ensure they brush for long enough?
Brushing should last for two minutes, twice a day. One way is using a timer, or alternatively using a child friendly app on your phone that not only helps with timing but also guides the brushing to ensure all the surfaces are brushed effectively!
Should you floss?
Once a child’s teeth start to fit closely together, parents should get their children in the habit of flossing daily. Children’s dexterity develops as they get older so parents should help their children to floss to help them to learn.Children usually develop the ability to floss on their own around the age of ten. Flossing lowers your risk of tooth decay and gum disease by removing food stuck between teeth and preventing the build-up of plaque. A great way to get children to start flossing is using flosspicks.
Kids don’t like brushing their teeth, fact, but here is our pick of the dental kit for children to get them smiling bright.
Toothbrush: Philips Sonicare for kids with Bluetooth coaching app, claims to remove 75 per cent more plaque than a manual toothbrush.
Toothpaste: Tom’s of Maine fluoride toothpaste that has a strawberry taste children love.
3 pack, £18.70,
Floss: Plackers Kids Dual Gripz dental flossers with fluoride
App: Disney MagicTimer App from Oral-B where kids can earn rewards the more they brush.