In a nutshell, National Smile Month is the UK’s largest and longest-running oral health campaign. Together, with thousands of individuals and organisations, National Smile Month promotes three key messages, all of which go a long way in helping us develop and maintain a healthy mouth. They are:
• Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste.
• Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
• Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend
So what better way to start thinking about national smile month, than to get your children smiling too! Tooth decay is the most common oral disease affecting children and young people in England and poor oral health can affect children’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with other children. By getting your children off to a great start in oral health you are only preventing them from getting tooth decay, pain, infections, gum disease, impaired nutrition and growth, but setting them up for life.
Starting your children in their early years at the dentist is the best way to promote great dental health for your child’s future. With advances in technology and research we can now offer a much more prevention based approach to dentistry, educating children on how to care for their mouths in order to head off problems in the future.
1) SO LETS GET BRUSHING
Some children are very reluctant to brush their teeth whilst others love doing it! If you’re children are falling short of the recommended two-minute brushing mark, then follow some of the tips below to see if this helps with getting them on board.
• Children often find mint flavour toothpaste too strong. So fruit flavoured is fine as long as it contains fluoride.
• Use a ‘smear’ of toothpaste for children under 2yrs and then a ‘pea size’ amount of toothpaste around age 2yrs up.
• Encouraging children to floss at an early age, is really beneficial and will help clean areas that cannot be reached by a toothbrush. If you do it, they will copy!
• Children’s toothbrushes should always have a small head. It makes getting in there easier.
• Try offering fun rewards, sticker charts, or make up a silly song to encourage your child to brush your teeth.
• Or search for the Aquafresh App on your mobile, they have a really fun and interactive cartoon to use during brushing.
2) SAY CHEESE!
Here are a few useful pointers to help cut down on sugary foods and drinks for kiddies
Can I give my child fizzy drinks and fruit juice?
• Generally speaking the only drinks safe for teeth which can be consumed at any time during the day are plain milk and plain water.
• Flavoured milks and waters usually contain sugar and acid and should really only be consumed at meal times.
• If you do want to give fruit juice or squash, ensure they are highly diluted.
What healthy snacks can I offer?
• The best safe snacks to have are fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, savoury crackers and bread sticks.
• We know they are not quite as exciting a chocolate, but you can make them more fun and appealing for children by making funny faces on a plate, cut them into animal shapes and even get your children involved too! Blueberry eyes, Tomato nose, red pepper smile and broccoli ears! You get our jist.
What snacks should I avoid?
• Do beware of dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas. The natural sugars in them are very concentrated due to the dehydrating process and have a tendency to stick to teeth. The natural occurring sugars in dried fruit, will still rot children’s teeth, so be careful.
• Sweet sticky foods are the worst, they stick to your teeth and rot them! Avoid these at all costs for good dental health.
• Keep the snacks between meals as sugar free as possible and have the sugar treats with or straight after a meal. A much better way of avoiding tooth decay!
Is it ok to give chocolate and sweet treats?
• Yes of course, a little chocolate or sweetie is fine to give as a treat! Just be mindful of ensuring they don’t become a child’s regular snacking food. The best time to give a child a sugary snacks or drinks is at meal times as we get lots of saliva in our mouths to aid the digestion process and the saliva helps to wash away acid. Reducing the tooth decay damage!
• It might only take you ten seconds to eat the biscuit, but the acid can remain in your mouth for up to one hour afterwards. The acid starts to eat away at the enamel on your child’s teeth, so if you have something with sugar in every 1-2 hours you will literally be bathing your teeth in acid all day, which will lead to tooth decay! The solution is to leave enough time in between sugary snacks to help your child’s mouth recover to it’s normal ph level. Limit the sugar attacks
Check The Label
• Every parent needs to read the small print where possible! The marketing healthy snacks can be very misleading for parents! Some products claim to be sugar free or have no added sugar , but don’t be fooled into thinking these are safe for teeth.
• Often sugar can be itemised on in ingredients lists as dextrose, lactose, sucrose and fructose. If it ends in “ose” it’s sugar! They are all sugar in disguise!
3) LASTLY, VISIT THE DENTIST
Luckily at The Exeter Dental Centre we are fully brushed up on the best ways to look after your child’s smile. We have a super friendly talented team offering top notch dentistry for the super special people in your lives. Children can enjoy a ride on the dental chair, become friends with their dentist and learn all about how to brush their teeth correctly and look after their gums!
Our clinicians are naturally gifted with children and are skilled at making the most nervous child feel really comfortable and happy in our care.
It’s all about a positive and fun experience, so your child grows up with no dental phobias and a smile to be proud of!
So don’t delay book your child in today!