Tips to a healthy happy smile:
Promoting a positive dental experience for children is key to long term dental health, so we recommend that parents bring their children along to see us as young as possible, ideally with them during their dental check-up. At this early stage we can educate parents to prevent dental disease and instil good dietary and oral hygiene habits for their children.
0-3 years old
- Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they become visible in the mouth (usually around 6 months of age), ideally twice a day but at the very least just before bed, with a soft baby toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1000ppm fluoride. Fluoride is a natural element that can help prevent tooth decay, but in Devon it is not contained in the water supply.
- The parent/carer should brush the child’s teeth to encourage routine and to ensure a thorough brush (as well as possible!). Try to make brushing fun rather than a battle! Dummies – ideally try to remove the dummy after 6 months, as long term use can cause bony and dental defects.
- After your child has reached 1 year old, children should not be given anything other than water if they wake during the night.
3-6 years old
- Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing between 1350-1500ppm fluoride, on a dry toothbrush and encourage your child to spit out after brushing. Do not rinse, as this reduces the benefit of the fluoride.
- Parents are encouraged to supervise or ideally brush their child’s teeth twice a day up to at least 7 years old, to ensure all plaque is removed at each brush.
- The first permanent ‘second’ teeth come through at the back of the mouth at around the age of six so by this age the child should certainly be on a higher fluoride content toothpaste (see above).
Cutting down on sugar:- Sugar causes tooth decay.
Fact: it is not the amount of sugar in sweet food and drinks that matters; it is how often the teeth are in contact with the sugar.
- The worst examples of frequent sugar contact are sipping sweet drinks in bottles or feeder cups and sucking lollipops or boiled or chewy sweets; either of these has the effect of bathing the teeth in sugar for long periods. On finishing the sweet substance, it takes saliva an hour to neutralise the effects of the sugary attack on the teeth. It is less harmful to teeth if a child eats sweets all at once and at the end of a meal, rather than eating them little by little and/or between meals.
- It is best to have any sugary drinks/food around a mealtime and to have sugar-free alternatives at other times in the day.
- Fruit juices are quite acidic and can harm teeth too – so again, give these at a meal time, not in-between.
- If your child needs medicine, ask your pharmacist or GP for a sugar-free option.
Mouth injuries in children and teens are more common than you might think: about one out of three boys and one out of four girls will have experienced an injury before they finish school. If your child plays sports, particularly contact sports, we highly recommend having a gum shield made for them to protect their teeth from trauma.
The gum shield is one of the most important pieces of equipment a child playing sports should own. Not only does it protect teeth and gums, it can help to reduce damage around the jaw and their chances of getting concussed.
If your child is unfortunate enough to have a dental injury, please see guidance notes below and contact the surgery on 01392 202242 for advice or an emergency appointment if required.
If your child’s adult tooth has come completely out of its socket:
- Reassurance of the child is important. Place a clean handkerchief or gauze with very gentle pressure over the socket help to reduce bleeding.
- Contact the surgery ASAP, or attend A+E.
- Give suitable pain relief as recommended for your child’s age
- Handling: It is important to avoid touching the root of the tooth. Hold the tooth by the crown (the flatter whiter part) not the root.
- Storage whilst in transit to the surgery: ideally it should be placed in similar surroundings to its normal environment – ie if the child can tolerate it, ask them to place it within their cheek and back teeth, or in a parent or siblings mouth. Otherwise place in cold fresh milk, or normal saline and bring to the surgery as quickly as possible to see if it can be re-implanted. Avoid storage in water.
- (If a baby tooth has come out, do not re-implant it)
- The sooner the tooth is re-implanted, the better the long term prognosis.
If there has been movement of the tooth and it has displaced, or there is a chip or break in the tooth, please phone and come to the surgery for assessment as soon as possible.