13th May marks the start of National Smile Month 2019! This is a significant month for us here at GDC Liverpool, and we want to use it as an opportunity to emphasise the importance of good oral hygiene. Therefore, we’re going to kickstart the month with some top tips that can help children maintain a healthy mouth.
1. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks
This may seem obvious, but sugar really is a cavity-creator, and avoiding the sweet substance is harder than you think! If your child is still quite young, try and get them into a good habit early by only giving them water and milk, rather than fruit juices and fizzy drinks.
You might wonder why we would recommend avoiding fruit-based drinks, but the reason is that they usually contain very high levels of sugar. Every fruit juice has a whole-fruit alternative, but without the high levels of ‘free sugars’ that can lead to tooth decay and erosion.
2. Help young children with brushing
The national recommendation is that children up to the age of 7 should be supervised when brushing their teeth. Why? Some children are at risk of swallowing toothpaste, putting too much toothpaste on their brush and not cleaning their teeth thoroughly enough.
For babies and toddlers aged between 0 and 3, a small smear of toothpaste should be used as soon as that first milk tooth breaks through. For children aged 3 to 6, this can be increased to a pea-sized amount. What’s just as important, is that they’re using a fluoride toothpaste with at least 1000ppm of fluoride!
3. Make sure they brush twice a day
Ensuring that children brush twice a day is one of the most significant steps when it comes to looking after their oral health. Brushing right before bedtime is extra important, as saliva levels decrease while you’re asleep. Why does this matter? Saliva is the mouth’s defence against bacteria because it’s able to neutralise acid levels, has antibacterial properties and is able to wash away food particles. So when saliva levels reduce overnight, it is important that food and bacteria from the previous day have been washed away as much as possible — through brushing.
Brushing twice a day is something that both children and adults should do, and getting children to do it from day one is the best way to achieve this life-long habit.
We’re here to help
Hopefully some of these tips have given you food for thought! If you want to find out more about National Smile Month and get involved in any of the events associated with the campaign, take a look at the Oral Health Foundation’s resource page.
Here at Gentle Dental Care, we support both children and adults at our Childwall-based practice. As well as cosmetic dentistry, we offer general checkups and treatments, which you can find out more about here.