As it's World Health Day, I thought it would be a great time to share some tips on how to help your children to have healthy teeth. In my previous job role as a Family Support Worker, I worked in partnership with an Oral Hygienist to promote children's dental health, so I am going to share some of my knowledge here.
Regular teeth brushing and trips to the dentist are not the only things that can be done to promote positive dental health. What your child drinks and eats can also contribute to having healthy teeth.
Teething in Babies
Every baby is unique so their experience of teething will be different too. You might not know, but some babies even have their first teeth when they are born, while others start teething at 4 months, with the majority starting at 6 months. Some teeth come through without issue, while some babies experience pain and discomfort. You might notice the gum is sore and red or a cheek is red if a tooth is coming through. Other signs can be dribbling, chewing and being upset and generally being out of character.
To help with teething you could try the following-
1. Teething rings
There are various teething rings available, which can give your baby something safe to chew, which might help to ease their pain. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product before use.
2. Foods to chew
For babies 6 months plus you can provide them with foods to chew such as raw vegetables e.g. carrot or a crust of bread or a breadstick. However you will need to be vigilant due to choking risks. Rusks are generally not recommended as most have a high sugar content.
3. Teething gel
You can get a specialist child teething gel from a Pharmacist.
Your GP, Health Visitor or Pharmacist can provide sugar free paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Brushing Your Child's Teeth
Its important to start brushing your baby's teeth as soon as they break through (which can be at around 6 months-but can be earlier or later as each baby is different).
Make sure to purchase a child's fluoride toothpaste (do not use an adult one). Only use a pea sized amount.
Initially brush your child's teeth and then get them to take over when you feel they can physically do it themselves but still supervise them.
Make sure to get your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day for at least 2 minutes. It is best to ensure one of these is at bedtime, and after breakfast is good as it can be built into the morning routine.
How to encourage your child to brush their teeth
Brush your teeth beside your child to show them what to do and to show them that it's something you do, as children love to copy adults and do grown up things.
Use a reward chart with stickers which can be used each time they brush their teeth.
Let them pick out their own child friendly toothbrush.
Make brushing teeth fun e.g. you could play a favourite song which they can brush their teeth too. Or you could use some kind of visual timer like a sand timer so they know they cannot stop brushing until it runs out.
You could have a mirror for your child to use so they can see inside their mouth and see where they need to be brushing.
You could set up a role play activity of getting your child to brush the teeth of their dolls or toys by buying an additional toothbrush, this will also help them to practice their grip and movement of the brush.
Visiting the Dentist Regularly with your Child
The great thing is that NHS dental treatments are free for children. It is recommended to take your children for their first dentist trip when their first milk teeth have come through, this is important so that they get used to visiting and learn what happens when they are there and to reduce the fear of this experience early on. Make sure your positive about the dentist experience too and plan something fun afterwards, to stop your child worrying about it. You can also get different story books about going to the dentist to help your child to feel more comfortable about the experience. You could also take your child along to your own dentist appointment so they can see that it is safe and it will help to reduce the worry surrounding it.
How to prevent the risk of tooth decay in your child's teeth
Sadly tooth decay is common in children. However there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of this happening:
Encourage your child to brush their teeth after meals as this will help ensure any sugar residue is removed off the teeth.
Limit the amount of sugary foods you give them.
Do not offer sugary snacks and sugary drinks between meals as this can cause the teeth to be subjected to sugar for a longer time period.
Provide a small piece of food which can be used after their meal to help neutralise any sugars in the mouth e.g. a small piece of cheese or a carrot stick.
In the evening after brushing teeth if your child wants a drink offer milk or water, instead of sugary drinks.
Instead of giving chocolate, biscuits or sweets as treats or rewards, you could offer things like stickers, badges, bubbles, small toys, colouring book, story book.
What drinks help to promote my child's healthy teeth?
Squash and Fizzy drinks are not recommended for children under 5 due to the negative effects on their dental health. Milk is beneficial for your child as its calcium rich which helps to strengthen your child's teeth. You can give unsweetened pure fruit juice to your child, but this needs to be diluted (1 part juice to 8 parts water). Only offer it at meal times and not on its own as it can damage teeth. Water is great because it will help keep teeth clean and it can rinse off food residue and any acid. Water also can remove bacteria and sugar from teeth.
For more guidance on dental health head to
I hope this blog has given you some advice in helping your child to maintain healthy teeth and gums. If you have any of your own tips, I’d love to share them with my readers and clients, let me know on either of my social media platforms: Instagram or Facebook
Written by G.Hampton 06/04/2021
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