How to maintain the best oral health for your child
21st September 2021
An oral health check up is just as important as a regular health check up, so we recommend you find a caring family Oral Health Therapist (OHT) or dentist who your child can be comfortable with from a young age.
You may think that they only look at teeth, but that’s not true. Upon a child’s first visit, a number of important checks are done:
- Your child’s airways
- Sleep/feeding history
- Tips around teething
- Brushing techniques
- The risk of decay and how to prevent it
- Your child’s bite and swallow
- Facial development & muscle balance
These are all things your OHT will assess and discuss with you. We suggest around the 12 month mark for their first dental visit.
It can be hard to know which toothbrush is best for your child. Ask any parent and they will say whatever works!
When children are very young, it can be a huge achievement just to get them to hold a toothbrush and get them used to moving it around in their mouth.
As they grow, and get more teeth, an electric toothbrush is a good idea as it does all the work for them, and with most of them having a little vibrating timer, it helps create good habits from a young age. The interchangeable brush heads are easy to replace and usually cheaper (after the initial purchase) than replacing a whole new toothbrush every 3 months.
It comes down to what your child is most comfortable with, some like the novelty of having something electric, others may prefer something quieter. Oral B are a good electric option. One of the most important areas to focus on are the chewing surfaces of the teeth, as food gets stuck in the grooves and can cause cavities.
Whatever you choose for your child, don’t forget to change it after they’ve been sick – as it’s best to get rid of all those nasty germs! A good rule of thumb is if they can’t tie their shoelaces, then they probably can’t brush their teeth properly and will require adult supervision.
Fluoride is a natural mineral, and is proven to improve dental health. Ensure you choose a toothpaste which includes fluoride, and is recommended for the age of your child. If you use an adult fluoride toothpaste on a 2-5 year old it can do permanent damage to the adult teeth when they come through. Fluoride is very important at the right dosage as it puts a protective layer over the top of your outer tooth layer, so all the "bugs" have to break through the fluoride crystals protecting the teeth before they can get to your teeth. Also don't forget to spit, not rinse after brushing so you don't rinse away all the fluoride.
Ongoing check-ups are also very important as they ensure the correct development of your child’s mouth and jaw. Jaws that do not grow to their full potential can lead to crooked teeth, increased decay, need for braces and impacted wisdom teeth. This can also cause a decrease in airway size, which in turn can contribute to learning difficulties, increased allergies, behavioural issues and sleep disturbance, just to name a few. A check up every 6 months is recommended to keep an eye on your child’s oral health and development.
The most important thing we can do as parents and carers is create healthy daily habits in our children. Brushing twice a day and some fun with flossing is a great start!