Did you know that the water in Bedford has not been fluoridated since 2009? Fluoride in the water has a protective effect on teeth helping to reduce decay in young children, and this is why decay in children is on the increase. But, don’t worry, there are a number of other ways in which we can keep our children’s teeth healthy. Visiting the dentist regularly is important but what we do every day at home is just as essential. Most of these tips are useful for us as adults too!!
At St Peter’s Studio Dental Clinic our focus is on reducing the chance of getting cavities in the teeth. For this we look at the number of times sugar is consumed and not necessarily the amount of sugar consumed. The reason for this is every time you eat sugar, acid is formed in your mouth, which then takes time to be neutralised by your saliva. So eating all of the sugary snacks in one go reduces the length of time acid is on your teeth thereby reducing tooth decay.
If you feel like having a sugary snack then it best to consume it after a meal. This is because you may have consumed small carbohydrates and sugars at part of your meal anyway and having some more sugar does not add to the frequency of sugar intake. So if you really want that chocolate, just eat it straight after a meal.
There are so many healthy choices for breakfast. Why not ditch that sugary/chocolaty cereal for some eggs, savoury pancakes or porridge? You can change what you eat each morning to make breakfast times more interesting.
It is so important to consume a variety of fruit and veg throughout the day. One way of getting children to consume fruit in a fun way is to make real fruit smoothies and milkshakes. Fruit consumed in this way contains a lot of sugar. Drink these at mealtimes so that they do not increase the number of times you have consumed sugar that day. Choose water or plain milk or tea without sugar, as options for drinks in between meals.
Sometimes we get hungry in between meals. Snacks are important particularly when there is a long gap between meals. Choosing the right option is important otherwise you will still be hungry. A sandwich, plain crackers or a banana are some examples of more healthy options for your teeth.
Having a hot chocolate late in the evening can be comforting and get you ready for bed. But this is the worst time that you could possibly consume sugary drinks as you do not salivate as readily in the night and so the acids formed cannot be neutralised quickly.
Toothbrushing plays an important role in keeping your gums healthy. Remember to toothbrush at least two times every day, in the morning and last thing at night. This is because you may not have removed all of the plaque in the morning and this gives you a second chance to remove it. Plaque that has stayed on for 24 hours may turn hard and require the help of our hygienist to remove it.
Use a toothpaste of at least 1400ppm of fluoride even for very young children. Just use a very thin smear of toothpaste on the brush. A pea size for a small child is too much as they may ingest the toothpaste.
Making toothbrushing fun is key and choosing the right toothbrush is important. Buy bright colours so that your children find the toothbrush attractive. Choose a toothbrush with a small head so it can fit in the mouth easily. Electric toothbrushes are an excellent option even for small children. Until the age of 7 years old, toothbrushing should be very carefully supervised. Children need a lot of help until this age.
Visiting the dentist regularly can mean that some of the above advise will be reinforced and any tooth decay or gum problems can be picked up early. Building a good rapport with your dentist is important in case any dental work is required in the future. Prevention of disease in the mouth is so important in keeping your children smiling.