Protecting your child from dental disease

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Specialist Paediatric Dentist
Paediatric Care
BDSc (Melb), DClinDent (Melb), M.R.A.C.D.S (Paed)

Children's Oral HealthUnderstanding the precautions you can take to prevent your children from developing dental problems, and making an effort to make brushing enjoyable, can significantly reduce your child’s risk of dental disease.

Concerning statistics from the most recent Child Dental Health Survey show that, while the average 6 year old child had just over 2 teeth affected by decay, the 10% of children this age with the most extensive history of tooth decay in their milk teeth had approximately 8 teeth affected – almost 4 times the national average for this age group.

Therefore, it is now more important than ever for parents to be extra vigilant about their children’s oral health.

Some healthy tips made fun

  • The less sugar your child eats, the better. Sugars weaken the enamel on teeth, making the teeth vulnerable to decay. Encourage your child to eat foods high in calcium, whole grains, fibres and fruits by cutting these foods into fun shapes. One of my children’s favourites is ‘cool kebabs’: I chop a range of fruit, vegetables and cheese into bite-size pieces which my kids can skewer onto shish kebab sticks.
  • For older kids, ascertain which healthy ingredients they like most and try to incorporate these regularly in their lunchboxes. Filling children’s lunchboxes with foods they hate purely because these are healthy does little good; the food will most likely end up in the rubbish bin.
  • When it comes to teeth cleaning, don’t assume your child can do it alone. Most children do not have the manual dexterity to brush teeth until they reach the age of seven. I strongly advise parents to assist their children to brush and floss properly.
  • For healthy teeth and gums, make sure your children brush twice daily – once in the morning and once in the evening – after food and for aduration of two minutes, in circular, up-and-down and side-to-side motions. Follow this with flossing.
  • Buy an age-appropriate toothbrush, possibly with your child’s favourite character, and toothpaste in your child’s favourite colour. This will help make the teeth cleaning routine more appealing. Letting your child chose their own brush and paste may help even more.
  • Keep a reward chart, whereby each child gets a star each time he or she finishes brushing their teeth or having them brushed. This can further build a positive mindset towards dental health.
  • Singing or playing your child’s favourite song is a fantastic way not only to mark the a start and finish of the activity but also to make teeth brushing more entertaining.
  • Include the entire family when brushing teeth in the morning and at night. This allows you to lead by example.
  • Sporting accidents can happen and mouth guards are a great way to reduce the risk of oral injuries. Although a guard comes at some expense, it has the potential to save you a lot of money and grief if teeth are chipped or broken.

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