How to keep your child’s teeth healthy in 2022

How to keep your child’s teeth healthy in 2022

Healthy teeth are a key part of your child’s overall health. Bad oral health can cause infections, diseases and other dental problems. 

But we know it’s not always easy to get children to brush their teeth. 

We look at how parents can help keep cavities away. 

  1. Start early 

Establishing a good oral care routine early will set your child up to maintain good dental habits as they grow. Even though baby teeth fall out, it’s still important to take care of them because tooth decay can deform the mouth. 

You can start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they come through. Even before they come through, it’s a good idea to wipe your baby’s gums after each feed with a warm cloth to remove excess milk or food. 

For babies, clean their teeth by using a tiny amount of baby toothpaste on a soft toothbrush. Use small circles to ensure each tooth’s surface has been cleaned. 

For a toddler, ask them to sit on your knee and rest their head against your chest while you brush each tooth. 

Encourage older children to have a go at cleaning their own teeth first then check that they are clean by asking your child to tilt their head back. 

       2. Make brushing teeth fun

Children often see brushing their teeth as a boring activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Give these tips a go and you may be surprised at how much fun your child is having.

  • Tell a story – kids love stories, so why not turn your child’s teeth into cars that need cleaning or a knight that needs to slay the dragon by keeping the tooth kingdom clean.
  • Play music – not only can music have a calming effect on children, but it also makes a great timer so little ones know how long to brush for. Some toothbrushes have flashing lights and music, which children will enjoy pressing the button and start brushing. Alternatively, sing a song to make teeth brushing time fun. 
  • Reward tooth good tooth brushing. A simple reward chart with gold stars is an effective way to motivate children to brush twice a day. You could give a larger reward after a week of good brushing technique.

3. Brush Together

Setting a good dental hygiene example will help children learn consistency and routine. They will also love to see mummy, daddy and siblings doing the same thing as them.

Brushing together is a great way to practice good brushing techniques and help each other to get it right.  After brushing your teeth together, make lots of positive comments about how clean your teeth look and feel so your children can understand the reason for keeping their teeth clean. 

      4. Limit certain foods and drinks 

What children put in their mouths can also affect teeth and gum health. The following foods and drinks should be given in moderation. 

  • Sugary drinks – fizzy or carbonated drinks are the worst for eroding teeth. Some drinks can also cause staining of the teeth. 
  • Crisps – the starch in crisps can get stuck in your teeth, putting you at higher risk of tooth decay if eaten regularly. 
  • Juices – the majority of juices contain citrus, which is acidic. The acid in fruit juices can erode a tooth’s enamel and make teeth more vulnerable to decay over time. 
  • Chewy and hard sweets – sweets are full of sugar that can cause cavities, but hard sweets can also lead to other dental issues such as chipped teeth. 

      5. Take regular trips to the dentist

To help your child become comfortable with the noise and smell of a dental surgery, take your child to your routine appointments even if they are too young to be checked themself. Over time children will trust their dentist, reassuring them that dental appointments are not anything to be scared about. If your child is still nervous, ask your dentist to talk through all the equipment and what it does to help eliminate anxiety issues.   

Tooth brushing tips for children

Still struggling with teeth brushing time? Making small changes can help. 

  • Use warm water instead of cold. Some children don’t like the shock of cold water in their mouths. 
  • Try a different toothpaste flavour. You can buy unflavoured, mint or fruit varieties depending on your child’s preference. 
  • Swap to a different textured toothbrush. Teeth brushing can be challenging for children with sensory issues. If a soft-bristled brush is rejected, purchase a toothbrush made from a different material such as silicone. Electric toothbrushes have a soothing vibration that some children love. 

Common questions and answers about children’s teeth 

  1. When do children get their first tooth?

Every child is different, but you will normally see signs of a tooth coming through between the age of six and nine months. 

      2. What age should a child start visiting the dentist?

The NHS advises that you start taking your child to the dentist as soon as their milk teeth appear. The main reason for this is so they can get used to a dental environment. 

      3. Is it normal for a baby to have gaps between their teeth? 

When baby teeth first emerge, they are naturally spaced out. The gaps in your child’s mouth will fill in with other teeth over time. 

      4. How much toothpaste should I use for my child?

This will depend on your child’s age. A tiny smear is enough for babies and toddlers and then you can increase the quantity for older children. 

If you’re concerned about your child’s dental health, contact your dentist for advice. 

      5. What are the signs of tooth decay in children?

White or brown spots on the teeth, red gums and holes in the teeth could all indicate tooth decay, which will need to be treated by a dentist. 

Fun facts about teeth for children 

Let’s end with some fun, educational facts about teeth. 

  • The hardest bone in a human’s body is tooth enamel.
  • Each person produces 25,000 gallons of saliva in their lifetime. 
  • Baby teeth grow in the gum before a person is even born. 
  • Teeth are like fingerprints. Each one is unique and no two people have identical teeth.
  • A human’s mouth contains around 6 billion bacteria. 


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