Looking after your children’s teeth – age 3 to 6

In a series of blogs, Laura Leonard, our hygienist, shares her advice about caring for your children’s teeth.  In this article, we share advice for 3 to 6 year olds.

Toothbrushing:  At this age your child will probably want to brush their own teeth, brushing should still be supervised to make sure they are being effective.  Brushing is recommended to be carried out twice a day for 2 minutes, brush 30-60 minutes after breakfast and again before bed.

Use a toothbrush with a small head, apply a pea sized of fluoride toothpaste (1350 – 1500ppm check the label on the tube or pump for the amount of fluoride).  Encourage your child to use a circular motion and brush the tooth surface and gently onto the gum, most children’s toothbrushes at this age will still be soft but will have an age guide on the packaging.  Toothbrushes will need to be replaced every 3 months or sooner if look splayed.  After brushing encourage your child to spit out any excess toothpaste rather than rinsing, this allows the fluoride to stay in contact with the tooth surface for as long as possible.  Make sure they don’t eat or lick the paste from the tube.

Try and make tooth brushing fun, use an egg timer or one of the brushing timer apps available with music and fun brushing challenges.  Using some disclosing tablets to colour the plaque can be a fun experiment at home, speak to one of our dentist’s or hygienist’s if you are unsure how to use disclosing tablets. Sticker reward charts can motivate reluctant brushers.

Don’t let your child run around with a toothbrush in their mouth as they may have an accident and hurt themselves.

Food and Drink:  Water and milk are the best drinks for teeth.  Fizzy drinks, fruit juices or fruit squashes can be popular with children but should be avoided. Frequent drinking of these drinks results in acid attacking the teeth often. The biggest cause of tooth decay is the amount and frequency of sugar eaten. The more frequently sugary food and drinks are consumed, the more acid is produced and the more damage to teeth occurs. Food and drinks containing sugar or acid should be limited to mealtimes. Try to get your child to eat healthy sugar-free snacks between meals.  Some tooth friendly snacks include: plain yoghurt, or yoghurt mixed with unsweetened fruit puree or chopped fruit, hard-boiled eggs, cubes of cheese, fresh fruit, raw or cooked vegetables, hummus and pitta bread, and cream cheese with mini-breadsticks.

The NHS Eat Well guide can help you create a well-balanced healthy diet.  http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/eatwell-plate.aspx

Visiting the dentist:  Your child has probably had their first check up by now and will be regularly visiting the dentist to identify any problems early.  You may have been offered fluoride treatment, a fluoride varnish can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth. It involves painting a varnish that contains high levels of fluoride onto the surface of the tooth every 6 months to prevent decay. Some children may need this more often. It works by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay.  It may also be recommended for your child to visit the dental hygienist for some advice on looking after your child’s teeth and gums including brushing and advice on diet, the hygienist may remove any hard plaque from your child’s teeth to help them clean their teeth more easily.  Most children find this a funny appointment with big teeth and the water hose!

Laura Leonard

Dental Hygienist GDC Reg 6419

Diploma in Dental Hygiene, Member of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy

Arden House Dental and Cosmetic Clinic

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