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  • Writer's pictureTinWai Ip

Strong teeth, Strong kids

Taking care of children's teeth is crucial for their oral health. It’d normal to face challenges when caring for your child’s teeth. We are here to help.

Here are some guidelines to follow from an oral health perspective:

Brush your teeth at least twice daily, before bedtime and one other time in the day, using toothpaste with fluoride

Toothbrush and toothpaste:

For infants (0-12 months):

Clean your baby's gums with a soft, damp cloth after each feeding. Once the first tooth erupts, use an infant toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. You can start using a children’s toothpaste containing at least 1,000 ppm fluoride.

For toddlers (1-3 years):

Begin using a small smear of fluoride toothpaste (thin film covering less than ¾ of brush head) on the toothbrush.

For children (3-6 years):

Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head suitable for their age. Electric toothbrushes can be a fun option for some children. Encourage them to spit out the toothpaste after brushing. A children’s toothpaste containing more than 1,000 ppm fluoride.

Children (6+ years):

Use a small or medium-sized toothbrush with soft bristles. Continue using fluoride toothpaste. Ensure they brush their teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day, with a toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500 ppm fluoride.

Start daily interproximal plaque removal by the age of 18 or earlier if gum inflammation is present.

It is recommended to spend at least 2 minutes for thorough cleaning, allowing sufficient time to clean all tooth surfaces effectively. Timers, such as egg-timers, clock-integrated toothbrushes, or downloadable apps, can be helpful to ensure the appropriate brushing time.

Disclosing agents can be used to identify missed areas in the mouth, helping guide more effective brushing.

Encouraging cooperation with toothbrushing:

Whilst is it important to get children to develop their independence and brush their own teeth, it is recommended that children have supervision or help from an adult until 7 years old. As a general guideline, until they can tie their own shoelaces, a parent or guardian should be helping and supervising.

Make it a routine: Establish a regular brushing routine by brushing together as a family. Children often mimic their parents' behaviour, so be a positive role model.

Make it fun: Use colourful toothbrushes, play their favourite music, or make up a brushing song to make it enjoyable for children. You can also use toothbrushes with characters or designs they like.

Get involved: Brush together in front of the bathroom mirror. This allows younger children to observe how you are brushing your teeth and learn from it. Explain the importance of oral hygiene and how it helps keep their teeth strong and healthy. Make it a fun family activity!

Give them choices: I like to call these "controlled choices." Allow children to pick their toothbrush and toothpaste flavour from a selection suitable for their age. This gives them a sense of autonomy and involvement.

Use positive reinforcement: Praise and reward children for their cooperation, such as a sticker chart or a small treat, to encourage their engagement.

Healthy sugar-free snacks for children:

Fresh fruits: Offer sliced apples, strawberries, or melon as snacks. They are nutritious and contain natural sugars that are less harmful to teeth than processed sugars.

Vegetables: Carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and celery are crunchy options that promote chewing and stimulate saliva production, which helps protect teeth.

Cheese and yogurt: These dairy products contain calcium and phosphates that help strengthen tooth enamel. They also stimulate saliva production, which helps wash away food particles.

Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are healthy snacks rich in nutrients.

Fluoride application at dental appointments:

Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening the tooth enamel and making it more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria.

During dental appointments, a dentist may apply a fluoride varnish or gel to the child's teeth. This provides an extra layer of protection against cavities.

Regular fluoride applications every six months help maintain optimal fluoride levels in children's teeth, especially in areas with limited fluoride in the water supply.

Fluoride application is safe when used in appropriate amounts and under professional supervision.

Fluoride works by remineralizing the enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria and sugary foods. Regular fluoride applications every six months can significantly reduce the risk of cavities in children.

Remember to schedule regular dental check-ups for your child, starting from their first birthday or when the first tooth appears. These appointments allow the dentist to assess the child's oral health, provide preventive treatments, identify any issues early on, and receive professional guidance tailored to their specific needs.

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