A couple of years ago, a study of 1000 parents of kids under 13 years old* highlighted that a quarter of adults believed it didn’t matter if their kids developed cavities in their baby teeth. (*mydentist survey; The Independent, May 13th 2018).
This common misconception amongst parents that baby teeth don’t matter was part of an overall lack of knowledge about oral health for children.
It revealed that almost a third of parents in the UK wait until their children have all their milk teeth before taking them to the dentist for the first time.
In reality, dentists advise it’s critical that children are taken to the dentist as soon as their first tooth comes through or they turn 1 year old, whichever is sooner. This then needs to be followed by regular 6 monthly check ups.
Baby teeth are essential for speech, they determine how the face structure develops and they hold space for adult teeth to develop in to. Infection and decay can be really painful and potentially affect the permanent teeth below.
Approximately half the parents in the survey admitted they didn’t understand fluoride levels in toothpaste or what type of toothbrush their children should be using. Similar numbers stopped helping their kids brush their teeth much earlier than official advice recommends.
Significant numbers of parents would happily give their children milk before bedtime and after brushing their teeth, not realising that the natural sugars it contains could trigger decay.
In the current Covid-19 situation, many dentists are still dealing only with emergency cases, so your child’s routine dental check ups will probably be delayed. This makes it even more important for parents to follow the recommended brushing tips for children’s oral health.
Recommended brushing tips for kids
- Avoid any drinks before bedtime, other than water
- Don’t rinse after brushing, just spit out excess toothpaste, as this allows the fluoride to provide the best protection
- Use a soft, rounded toothbrush head, with an easy grip handle
- Use a timer to ensure brushing for the full recommended 2 minutes
- Supervise your children’s brushing until they are seven years old
- Use a toothpaste with the correct levels of fluoride for their age (see below). Although there is a recent trend for many parents to move away from fluoride towards more ‘natural’ products, fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, found to offer the best protection for enamel. See our previous blog for details of research. fluoride-in-toothpaste-friend-or-foe
- NHS recommended fluoride levels:
- Under 3 years: a smear of toothpaste with > 1000 ppm fluoride
- 3-6 years: a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with > 1000 ppm fluoride
- Adults: 1350-1500 ppm fluoride