Children’s Dentistry FAQs with Dr Leske
Our first Dentistry in Focus article (from September 2013) focuses on some basic frequently asked questions about children’s dentistry and is written by Dr. Leske.
Happy Teeth = Happy Kids
Good oral health is essential for your child’s general health, eating, speech, apperance and self-esteem. Here are some answers to some frequently asked question for parents.
Q. When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
A. As soon as teeth first appear in the mouth. This occurs, on average, between the ages of 4-8 months with the eruption of the lower and/or the upper front teeth. Use a soft toothbrush without toothpaste until 18 months of age, then introduce a low fluoride children’s toothpaste.
Your child should use an adult fluoridated toothpaste from 6 years of age.
Make sure brushing and flossing your own teeth is a regular part of your daily routine – this will make it more likely that your child will want to join in too!
Q. I really struggle to get my kids to brush their teeth. Do you have any advice?
A. Getting into good habits early is the key to happy brushing times.
Be a good role model and brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes and remind your kids to brush at the same time. Let your kids watch you from a very early age to spark their interest in brushing and copying you.
Perform regular mouth “checks” gently with a clean finger or face washer from a very early age (even before your child has teeth) to desensitise them to the feeling of having their mouth cleaned. Also you can let them play with a toothbrush in the bath (under supervision) from a young age.
Some other things you can try include:
- Pretend brushing your teeth is a fight against the “plaque monsters” or “tooth germs” and turn it into a game where your child has to defeat the “bugs”.
- Get your child to list some of the foods and drinks they have consumed that day and pretend you have to brush those specific foods/drinks off the teeth one by one.
- Try brushing to a favourite song (ideally two minutes long) and incorporate a little dance routine if you are feeling very energetic!
Q. When should I first take my child to the dentist?
A. It is important to make visiting the dentist a regular routine for your family. Your child should start accompanying you to your regular dental check-ups from a very early age and should have their first check-up by 2 years of age.
This first check-up is usually just to familiarise your child to the dental environment and involves balloons, stickers, rides in the chair and fun!
Watching older siblings have their check-up can also help their confidence.
Try to have a positive attitude by highlighting the new and interesting things about the dental visit. Remember, your child will pick up on any of your anxieties and may become anxious themselves.
It is important to do your research and choose a dentist you feel comfortable with and is good with children. At Robertson Dental Innovations you have 6 dentists to choose from, all of whom have extensive experience in treating adults and children, as well as an Oral Health Hygienist/Therapist who is specifically trained in treating younger patients.
Q. What foods and drinks are good for teeth?
A. The only “safe” drinks for teeth are fluoridated tap water and plain milk. Children that drink fluoridated water experience about 40% less decay than those who don’t. Children do not need juice, cordial or soft drink and these drinks contain high amounts of sugar, acid and preservatives that are not good for your child. Try to limit these to special occasions and don’t regularly keep them in the house.
Recommended snacks include fresh fruit and yogurt, cheese and dry biscuits, plain popcorn and vegetable sticks and dips. Try to limit the snacks to once between meals and make sure the three main meals of the day are as nutritious and balanced as possible.
“Sometimes” foods, such as muesli bars, fruit bars, cakes, sweet biscuits, lollies and chocolate, should be limited as much as possible.
Remember, you are the best role model for your child, so if you have a healthy diet then your child is likely to copy you!
About the author
Dr. Leske has been part of the team at Dental Innovations on Sternberg for over 4 years. Outside of work she is also a keen cyclist.