16 Top tips for healthy teeth for kids

healthy teeth for kids

Health tips | 31 Mar 2020

Almost a quarter of five year olds in England are suffering from tooth decay and yet it is almost entirely preventable! Here are our top tips to healthy teeth for kids.

Start early

As soon as your baby’s first tooth comes in, get them used to the idea of brushing their teeth. This is very important because both breast milk and formula milk contain sugars that can cause decay.

It is important to use fluoride toothpaste as this is the most effective to control and prevent tooth decay.

Finger brushes are ideal for baby’s. They help ease your baby into the routine of something tickling their gums and being on their teeth. Try starting a routine with your little one by brushing after their last feed before bed.                                     

Set a timer

We should all be brushing our teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Using a timer will ensure that your children are brushing for the correct amount of time and it may also make the experience fun. 

Allow eating crunchy fruits and vegetables

Many parents think it’s better for their kids to cut everything into small pieces and mushing loads of processed foods, but that isn’t necessarily the best option. While being mindful of choking hazards, you need to avoid doing these things to get those little jaws working! 

Turn their teeth blue!

Older children may enjoy disclosing tablets. These are chewable tablets that stain your child’s teeth blue where they haven’t brushed away plaque. This makes brushing an enjoyable experience and ensures that your children are brushing their teeth well. These tablets can be found in many supermarkets and on amazon for as little as £2.99. 

When should you start seeing a dentist 

As soon as you see your baby’s first tooth you should visit the dentist for a check up. Even if the baby has not started teething before they turn one they should see a dentist before their first birthday. Your dentist can examine whether your child has any plaque or cavities and can determine when to expect the next baby teeth to come in and show you the best ways to take good care of your child’s teeth.

Watch your children’s diet

What your child eats and drinks can impact their teeth immensely. Consuming a lot of fruit juice may seem like a good choice for your child because it is healthy as they contain fruit but they also contain very high amounts of sugar that can start decaying your child’s teeth. Limit sugary treats such as cookies and chocolates as well. They are often easy snacks to feed children but they make the outer shell (enamel) of teeth weak and put teeth at a higher risk for cavities. 

How can we prevent cavities? 

–       You can prevent cavities by starting good oral habits early. If you teach kids to brush at least twice a day and floss regularly, you will ensure the good health of their teeth early and get them in a good routine to continue as they get older. 

–       Limit or completely avoid some foods: sugary foods, juices and sweets can erode enamel and cause cavities. Especially sweets that seem like they are good for your children such as fruit gummies or gummy vitamins. Although they are an enticing way to get the necessary nutrients into your child, they have a tendency to stick onto teeth, slowly erode the enamel and cause cavities. The same goes for taking sweetened liquid medicines; always have kids rinse or brush afterwards.

–       Get enough fluoride: Regular use of fluoride toughens the enamel, making it harder for acids to penetrate. Make sure the toothpaste you use for both yourself and your children, contains fluoride. 

Make tooth brushing fun

Many children don’t brush correctly or avoid brushing all together because they see it as a chore. As more teeth come through, start using age appropriate toothbrushes with soft bristles, with a little amount of toothpaste for children to get used to the taste.

To help make the activity more enjoyable for children try brushing with them, make it a fun time. There are also many toothbrushes with various children’s TV characters on them. Many even light up and play music for the amount of time children should be brushing their teeth for (2 mins). This allows them to enjoy the experience and also gets them in a great routine.  

Oral health for toddlers

Teach good habits

Starting to brush your child’s gums and teeth as soon as they begin to appear. This will get your children comfortable with the idea of something touching their gums and the taste of toothpaste. Start flossing when there are two teeth touching each other. Getting them into a routine of brushing twice a day and flossing between their teeth will put them in a good position to continue the routine by themselves when they get a little older.  

Dietary habits such as only one cookie a day, and only water or milk after 5pm, no juices, will also be great for the oral health of your child.  

Get a check up

It is important to see your dentist as soon as you start seeing teeth growing. The dentist will be able to see any cavities or decay and will be able to advise you on flossing, brushing and a great routine to ensure your child has the best oral health possible

Avoid baby bottle decay

Baby bottle decay happens when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars (eg. milk) cling to the infant’s teeth for a long time which causes decay.

To avoid this, do not put your child down for a nap with the bottle in his mouth. Having something to suck on before bed may become soothing for a child therefore, they will want it consistently. If that is the case, make sure that the only liquid inside the bottle is water.

Ditch the pacifier

There are many good reasons as to why you should let your child use a pacifier but in the long term, it can affect how his teeth line up. It can also change the shape of the child’s mouth. Because of this, it is best to get rid of the pacifier by ages 2 or 3.

Cut back on juice

A lot of parents make the mistake by assuming fruit juices are healthy for their kids without realising how detrimental it is for their oral health.

Limit your child to no more than 4 ounces a day and do not let them drink continuously from their cups all day. Using Sippy cups too much can lead to decay on the back of the front teeth if the drinks are sugary.

Sweet Medicine 

A lot of children’s medication is flavoured and sugary to be more appealing to kids. Due to the texture of the medicine there is a higher chance of the liquids to stick on the teeth and the chance of cavities to go up. Children on medications for chronic conditions such as asthma and heart problems often have a higher tooth decay rate.

Talk to your dentist about how often to brush your child’s teeth if your child is taking long term medication. It could be as often as four times a day.

Strict rules on brushing

When kids make a fuss about brushing their teeth do not let them off or give up. It’s worth the battle.

–       Be patient: Allow your kids to take control whilst you are overseeing their brushing technique. Kids like to think they are in charge.

–       Don’t wait until late in the day: Tired children lead to less cooperation while brushing and flossing. It would be a good idea to start brushing half an hour before bedtime.

–       Motivate: Using incentives such as stickers or gold stars as rewards for brushing will help entice kids to join in and brush their teeth willingly. They may even look forward to it. Kids are also likely to happily participate if it seems more like a fun activity rather than a chore. So go on mums and dads, make it fun!