Practical Oral Health Tips For Parents With Toddlers

Helping to keep your children’s teeth strong, healthy and pain free.

Some of us may have suffered from dental problems when we were children. This may well have entailed a number of visits to our local dental practice and some, perhaps, unpleasant memories.

Whilst this may not have been a very nice experience for us, it does mean that, as parents, we are probably extra determined to ensure that our own children don’t have to go through the same thing.

Although young children can be quite wilful, parents are, by and large, in control of what they can and can’t do. This puts us in an excellent position to help them keep their teeth nice and healthy.  With this in mind, the team at The Dental Centre Bedford offer some useful tips for parents with young children.

Baby teeth care

There may be some parents who consider baby teeth to be relatively unimportant as they will eventually be replaced by adult teeth. This is a mistake though, and, in addition to not wishing your child to have toothache and be in pain, keeping their baby teeth is important too. These first teeth act as ‘placeholders’ for the adult teeth, and their premature loss can affect how the adult teeth come through and may well lead to bite problems in later life. Make sure that you help them to look after their first teeth, as well as when the adult teeth finally erupt.

Use fluoride toothpaste

It is important to use a fluoride toothpaste both for our own and our children’s teeth. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel of our teeth and consequently helps to protect them from issues such as tooth decay. You should use a pea-sized quantity of toothpaste on the brush and make sure to keep the tube out of reach of inquisitive little hands. Some children will quite happily eat toothpaste from the tube if allowed. This could be potentially harmful and should be avoided at all costs.

Depending on the age of the child, you should either brush their teeth for them, or, if they are old enough to be encouraged to do this themselves, you should make sure that you supervise them whilst they do it. This will ensure that they do brush their teeth well and not simply suck on the brush as some young children are inclined to do.

Avoid sugary drinks, especially at bedtime

We don’t need to tell you that sugar is bad for your teeth. Despite this, parents often give their young children fruit juices etc that are high in sugar. This is bad for their teeth at any time of day but especially so if given just before bedtime. Not only will they probably already have cleaned their teeth, meaning that the teeth are exposed to sugar overnight, but also, the sugary liquids can pool in the child’s mouth and lead to ECC (Early Childhood Caries). If this is left untreated it can potentially lead to a fever and the need for hospitalisation.

Be careful what you put in ‘sippy cups’

Sippy cups are essentially a closed beaker with a ‘spout’ through which young children can drink. This is often used as a transitional tool between a baby’s bottle and drinking from a regular cup. Unfortunately, in order to encourage them to use it, drinks that are high in sugar are often used in them so that the child will want to pick it up and use it. In addition to the fact that sugar is harmful to teeth anyway, the very nature of these cups means that young children will sip from them regularly during the day. This means that the enamel of their teeth never gets a break, and the constant exposure to sugar is more harmful to their teeth than if it were drunk in one go. If you do use a sippy cup, you should make sure that it only contains or very dilute juice.

Mouth breathing issues

Children will quite frequently breathe through their mouth. As with adults, this can lead to a drying out of the mouth whilst we sleep, and an increase in the number of bacteria that are linked to gingivitis and periodontitis. If you notice that your child does breathe through their mouth when they sleep, please let your children’s dentist know when you bring them for an appointment.

And finally ….

Making sure that your child looks after their teeth at home is great, but it should never be seen as a replacement for professional dental care. Toddlers, and children of all ages, need to see a dentist every six months, or more frequently if required. Combining both home and professional care is the best way of keeping your child’s teeth and gums in good health in the years to come.

To make an appointment to see one of the children’s dentists at our Bedford dental practice, please call The Dental Centre Bedford on 01234 819868.