A regular brushing routine is so important for children’s dental health, but there are a few other things you can do to help keep your child’s teeth in top condition. Here are five common parenting habits that can lead to tooth decay if left unchecked:
- Giving Baby a Bottle in Bed
Giving a baby a bottle in bed is one of the main causes of children’s tooth decay. You may not realise it, but even healthy drinks such as milk and fruit juice contain naturally occurring sugars. When these sugars come into contact with acid-producing bacteria, enamel can be damaged and there is a risk of cavities forming. The reason that baby bottle tooth decay is such a common cause of tooth decay is because your baby’s teeth are potentially exposed to these natural sugars for hours on end, giving the acid-producing bacteria more time to do some damage.
To prevent your child from suffering from baby bottle tooth decay, avoid giving them a bottle at bedtime. When it comes to nursing during the night, wipe their gums with a soft, damp cloth after feeding.
- Incorrect Brushing Techniques
Brushing too vigorously is another common mistake. It only takes a gentle scrub to clean your teeth, brushing too hard can wear away the enamel. Explain to your child that they should hold their brush at a 45-degree angle, brush in a soft circular motion and not forget about their hard-to-reach back teeth. If you are unsure, your dentist can always give you and your child a tutorial on how to brush properly.
- Not Supervising Tooth-Brushing Time
The other common brushing mistake that children (and adults) sometimes make is not brushing thoroughly enough. Rushed tooth-brushing means that your child may miss the teeth at the back or not spend long enough brushing the teeth at the front. To overcome this problem, parents are advised to supervise their child’s tooth-brushing until they are aged eight. Allow them to brush on their own, but watch over them to observe their technique. Parents can always lend a hand to make sure it has been done correctly. Remember to encourage your child to brush for two minutes at a time. You can always make it fun by using a music timer.
- Not Seeing a Dentist
Your child should have his or her first dental visit around their first birthday or when their first tooth sprouts (whichever comes first). After that, your dentist will advise you to book an appointment for your child to have a checkup every six months. These checkups are vital to ensure your child’s teeth and gums are healthy and cavity free. If your dentist does spot any signs of tooth decay, they will advise you on how to keep your child’s mouth clean and healthy between visits.
- Offering Fruit Juices Instead of Water
Although fruit juices are packed full of vitamins and minerals, they are also full of natural sugars and acids. These acids sit in your child’s mouth throughout the day, exposing the tooth enamel to attack, altering the pH balance in the mouth and, in turn, increasing the risk of tooth decay. It’s also worth bearing in mind that “juice drinks” (juice drinks that are diluted with water and often contain plenty of added sugars and other chemicals) are more damaging to teeth than 100% natural fruit juice. To prevent this problem, give your child water during the day, only offering fruit juice at meal times.
If you would like to know more about how to improve your child’s oral hygiene, please call Epsom Dental on 01372 720650 and book yourself in for an appointment with one of our highly trained and experienced dental practitioners. We pride ourselves on being delicate, gentle and professional with all our clients.