I celebrated my sons 4th birthday on Saturday. We organised a few of his friends and parents to celebrate this occasion. It was the first time I had met the parents. Once they found out I was a dentist the conversation ended up on their children’s dental health. There has been so much conflicting messages on what is good for the children, what toothpaste to use, etc. I decided to produce a fact sheet outlining good dental care for children:
What is the relationship between enamel, fluoride and good dental health?
Enamel, the hardest substance in the body, is the outermost layer of the tooth and protects the tooth from decay and cavities. Fluoride, a naturally occurring substance, can strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. Some sources of fluoride that help prevent cavities are fluoridated drinking water, fluoride-containing toothpastes and fluoride mouthwashes. Your dental professional or physician may recommend or prescribe additional fluoride treatments for your child’s dental health. Be sure to follow his/her instructions. Too much fluoride can change the structure of tooth enamel, resulting in discolouration.
How do I take the fear out of the first dental visit?
Your child should visit a dental professional by age 1. You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Before the visit, tell your child that someone will look at and clean his or her teeth. Allow the dentist and other members of the dental staff to introduce other dental health procedures. Your dental professional will examine your child’s mouth for early signs of cavities or other dental health problems. He or she will also tell you many of the things you’ll need to know about helping your child grow up free of cavities.
What types of toothpaste do children like?
A good way to encourage your child’s dental hygiene is by using pleasantly flavored fluoride toothpaste. The taste and appearance of toothpaste can make brushing a more enjoyable experience, so children are more likely to brush twice each day and brush for longer periods of time. Appropriate brushing can help prevent cavities, gum disease and other dental health issues. Children age 6 or less should brush twice a day using no more than a pea-sized dab of toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush to remove plaque and provide fluoride protection. Before age 2, children should not use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
What role does nutrition play in healthy dental development?
Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Many snacks that children eat can lead to the formation of cavities. Try to limit your child’s snacks. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese.