Prevention is always better than cure, as the saying goes. But nowhere more critical does this apply than with the dental health of your children.
Years ago it was quite common for children to live in fear of visiting the dentist for their regular check-up. These days it is a very different story with bright and welcoming dental practices that actively encourage their adult patients to bring along their children for each visit.
There are family friendly dental practices that are especially trained in the care and well-being of families with young children. Lots of colourful and engaging posters on the walls of the waiting room, plenty of children’s books, toys and games are set out in most family dental surgeries to allow children to look forward to their visits and become comfortable with the staff and the environment.
Many dental surgeries have worked hard to shake off the old fashioned image of the dentist being a scary place with lots of painful prodding and noisy drills. To distract children, many surgeries will have music playing or a TV screen showing popular children’s TV shows.
Where a child may be particularly nervous, many dental practices will set up a special family friendly treatment room with soft and squishy sofas, bean bags and nursery rhymes playing in the background. All the dentistry tools are hidden away in draws out of sight so not to scare the child or make them fearful of the dentist.
Oral hygiene at home
Regular teeth cleaning is one routine that is actively encouraged by dentists to children. Once the primary teeth begin to erupt, your dentist will show you how to carefully and gently clean your babies teeth. New teeth can erupt as early as four months, so it is encouraged that you bring baby along to your own regular dental check-ups. They can sit on your lap while very small so the dentist can show you how to take care of the new teeth and advise on helping keep sore gums soothed as new teeth emerge.
As you baby grows into a toddler, your dentist will advise on giving healthy drinks such as water when thirsty and avoiding sugary drinks and undiluted fruit juice drinks. You will be recommended to use a small, soft-bristled brush for your toddler to use as their first toothbrush. Many children’s toothbrushes come in bright and attractive designs with animals or cartoon characters on the toothbrush handle to encourage your children to brush regularly.
You will also be advised about using special children’s toothpaste and how you only need a tiny peas sized blob to clean their teeth with. It is advisable not to let your child swallow toothpaste, so it is best to encourage them to rinse and spit early on to get into the habit.
Healthy food and drink for children
Sugar and acids are the main agents that form plaque on your teeth, so if you want to prevent your children from developing tooth decay that need fillings, your dentist will recommend the types of food and drink to avoid for the best dental health. We already know that eating and drinking sugary food and drink is really bad for our health, so it is easier not to get into the habit of giving these sweet food and drinks than it is to break that habit later down the line.
Dental sealants for milk teeth
Should your dentist discover the first signs of tooth decay developing, they may recommend a dental sealant treatment for your child. This is basically a hard-wearing plastic coating that is painted over the teeth to protect them from decay. Sealants can be applied as soon as a new tooth erupts so that the tooth spends less time being exposed to decay causing acids.
As second teeth are being formed underneath milk teeth, your dentist may consider removing any milk teeth that have become badly infected or decayed. This helps to prevent the decay or infection travelling into the still-developing second tooth and causing damage before the tooth is fully formed. This can help prevent second teeth coming through with issues that may require invasive dental treatments at a later date.