With all the recent reports about the dangers of sugar and the effects it can have on general health no-one can have failed to question how much damage it does to teeth. Children are among the largest consumer group that are targeted by the manufacturers of sugary sweets and fizzy drinks and unfortunately dentists are seeing the results of this.
There have been several reports and studies from around the world showing how ever younger children are having teeth extracted as a result of consuming too much sugar. One report, from Australia in 2015 told how children as young as 18 months are having severely decayed baby teeth removed. It is clear from this and other reports that some parents are lacking a clear understanding of when and why to take their child to visit a dentist and even in some cases of how to care for their child’s teeth.
Dentists advise that children need to see a dentist from a young age to encourage the proper development of teeth. Another fairly recent report, from The Guardian, told of how 80% of under-twos failed to see a dentist in 2016-17. The reason for this, said a spokesman from the Faculty of Dental Surgery, is simply because parents do not realise that they need to start their children’s dental visits at a very early age. It cannot be emphasised enough that failing to regularly take your child for dental check-ups is not doing them any favours at all; rather it is simply creating problems for the future.
With 4 out of 5 under-two’s failing to be taken for check-ups it’s clear that parents should be made aware of the importance of children’s dentistry.
How Soon Should I Start Taking My Child To The Dentist?
In a nutshell it is almost never too early to start your child off on a regular dental check-up routine. Dental care is free for children up to the age of 18 in the UK so it is quite staggering to think that 30% of our children have experienced tooth decay by the time they are 5 years old!
The NHS advises that you should start your child on a regular routine of dental care from the appearance of the first milk tooth. If you can get your child used to visiting the dental surgery, and having the dentist examine his or her mouth and teeth, from this stage onwards it will undoubtedly pay dividends throughout the child’s lifetime. NHS guidelines say that your child ideally should have seen a dentist at least once by the age of two. If you familiarise your child with the whole dental surgery experience they will soon start to see that the procedures involved are nothing to be frightened of. And crucially your dentist can identify any problems at the very earliest stage and can advise on ways – like daily brushing and diet – to prevent tooth decay.
The Importance Of Daily Brushing
All those who practise children’s dentistry in London advise that parents should gently brush their child’s teeth right from the appearance of the first milk tooth using a normal fluoride toothpaste that contains 1,000 ppm (parts per million – check on the pack). Up to the age of three a child needs just a smear of toothpaste on the brush.
From 3 to 6 years old they should use a pea-sized blob then from the age of 7 should brush with a adult-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500 ppm. Parents should supervise their children from the start and for as long as it takes until the healthy brushing habit is embedded.
Teach them to brush twice daily, for two minutes each time, restrict sugary food and drinks and take them for regular check-ups to ensure a healthy smile.