2 Spark Lane
We love sharing our knowledge of dentistry. We love parents asking questions about their children’s teeth. And, most importantly, we love our patients leaving the practice safe in the knowledge they can provide the best oral care for their children. With this in mind we asked Dom, one of our dentists, to share some of the most common questions he hears when in the practice. Read his answers below:
In the perfect scenario we would see your child as soon as they develop their first baby teeth, which is around the 6 months mark. We may not perform a full examination until they’re 2-3 years old, but this gives us the opportunity to advise parents regarding tooth development, diet and tooth brushing pointers. It will also allow your child to get used to coming to the dentist, and hopefully realise visiting the dentist can be an enjoyable experience!
The simple answer is when they reach six. The most recent published guidelines recommend that by this age, all children should be using adult strength toothpaste; identified as having a fluoride content of 1450ppm F (parts per million fluoride). Children’s toothpaste varies in fluoride levels so it’s important they move across to adult strength to help prevent decay and cavities forming. If a child has developed a cavity under the age of 6, we will usually recommend they start using adult strength toothpaste immediately.
There’s no denying fruit has overall health benefits for your child, but just be aware some fruits have high sugar and acid contents, both of which will contribute to tooth decay. We recommend eating in moderation as part of a balanced diet, subbing in alternative snacks. These substitutes can include: carrots, celery, tomatoes, bananas, cheese, crisps, and toast (with a savoury spread), amongst others.
As a general rule, we recommend that parents continue to supervise children until they can tie their own shoe laces. This is a great indicator that they have the skill to be able to reach their very back teeth. Around the age of 6, children develop their first permanent molar teeth behind all their baby teeth, which some children can struggle reaching with a toothbrush, so monitoring is definitely required.
Beware of the flavoured water! Ok, this may sound a bit dramatic but some have sugar content that rivals fizzy drinks, as well as being acidic, both of which will contribute to decay and cavity formation. Water, milk and squash with low sugar levels (as identified on the side of the bottle) are better drinks to give your child and ones we definitely recommend.
Some children can be very reluctant to part with their dummies. It’s very important they are weaned off them by the age of 2 as the forces exerted on the dummy can cause the front teeth to move forward and the top jaw to narrow, both of which can result in what we call an ‘anterior open bite’. This is where there’s a gap between the top and bottom front teeth when a child bites, which can make eating certain foods difficult.
A technique I learnt from a paediatric dentist when I was studying at Sheffield University was to explain to your child that “baby birds also need dummies” and that “unfortunately mummy birds aren’t able to buy dummies for their babies, so we need to leave your dummy in the back garden at night so they can come and take them for their baby birds”. This sounds like quite a far-fetched suggestion but I have had multiple parents say to me that their children were extremely keen to leave their dummies for “the birds”, at which point you can dispose of them when they have gone to bed!