Hello again. This is a really hot topic at the moment. There have been a number of articles in the press recently regarding Children teeth. Tooth decay is the main reason children are admitted for General anaesthetics in this country – a statistic we should be embarrassed about as a nation (remember having a general anaesthetic carries many risks from simple nausea to death). We give the information below to most of our parents and prevention is key here. It’s a bit wordy but definitely worth the read!
How to Help Care for Your Child’s Teeth
Sugar causes dental decay. When we eat something containing sugar the sugar is converted into acid by germs and these acids attack the enamel and cause decay. This attack lasts approximately 1 hour. If you try to keep sugary foods to meal times only, you or your child are only having three sugar attacks a day. Most people’s teeth can withstand this. Thorough brushing and removal of plaque and food debris is also essential.
How can you care for your child’s teeth?
- Do not allow sugary foods and drinks except at meal times. Any snacks or drinks should be sugar free.
- Supervise and help with brushing both in the morning and at bedtime. Take extra care at bedtime. Use a pea size blob of fluoride toothpaste and spit only instead of rinsing after brushing.
- Visit a dentist regularly.
How can you tell which products have sugar in them?
Sugar often appears on food labels hidden under different names. Look out for dextrose, dextrose syrup, syrup, glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose.
Any kind of sugar can cause decay – white, brown, cane, caster, icing, pure granulated, honey, golden syrup, molasses, treacle and maple syrup.
Both fizzy drinks and squashes are high in sugar and bad for your teeth. A can of fizzy drink can contain between 6 and 11 teaspoons of sugar. Diet drinks contain less sugar but they can also contain phosphoric acid to help them fizz. This acid attacks the enamel on your teeth in a process called erosion.
The best and safest thing to drink between meals is pure still water (not carbonated or fizzy), such as simple tap water. Save fruit juices, squashes and fizzy drinks for meal times, occasional treats and parties. Don’t add sugar to tea.
Never leave a toddler or child with a bottle or cup of squash, fruit juice or fizzy drink, or give them any of these to go to bed with. Water is always the safest option.
If children have been used to drinking only squashes and fizzy drinks etc. between meals and at night, they may object to water at first. Try diluting their usual drink with water and then gradually dilute with more and more water over time and eventually replace the drink entirely with plain water.
Avoid giving snacks whenever possible.
If a snack is necessary, try to encourage choosing from the following: crackers, rice crackers, bread sticks, savoury sandwiches, pita bread fingers with low fat cheese spread, cottage cheese, chunks of low fat cheese such as Edam or Gouda, toast, muffins, crumpets with savoury toppings, fruit and vegetable pieces.
Try to replace flavoured crisps with plain crisps. Many flavoured crisps have sugar in the flavouring and the type that melt in your mouth like Wotsits, Chipsticks, Quavers and especially skips have high sugar content in the prawn flavouring. Many foods contain hidden sugars always read the labels!
Children need help with brushing until at least the age of nine and should have supervision for a few more years after that.
It is very important to brush and make sure that teeth are thoroughly clean before going to bed. You also need to brush first thing every morning. You should gently clean every tooth surface, as well as the gums. A small-headed tooth brush is essential to be able to reach to the very back teeth especially in small mouths.
It doesn’t matter if you use a manual, battery or electric toothbrush (make sure these are fully charged for best effect) but brushing should take between 2-3 minutes not just a few seconds.
Toothbrushes need changing every 2-3 months. Using a fluoride toothpaste helps to strengthen teeth and reduce decay. Using a small pea size blob is enough. If the gums bleed it may well be because the plaque has been allowed to build up and made the gums sore. Ignore the bleeding and brush gently but thoroughly to keep both the gums and teeth clean, they will soon stop bleeding. If they do not, then arrange to see a dentist. Once children are over 5 years old they should use adult toothpaste.
Visiting a Dentist
Register your children with a dentist and take them along regularly so that they get used to going.
Hope it all makes sense and as always feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.