Looking after your children’s teeth – Age 7 to teens

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 7 to teens

Toothbrushing:  It is assumed that most over 7’s will be brushing their own teeth but it is advised that some supervision is needed to make sure your child is brushing their teeth effectively and brushing for 2 whole minutes.  Brushing should be carried out twice a day for at least 2 minutes.  Brushing should be carried out 30-60 minutes after breakfast and again before bed.  Use a toothbrush with a small head, apply 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.  Use of an electric toothbrush is something you may now want to consider, we can advise on types of electric brush and how to use them effectively.  Remember to change their toothbrush or toothbrush head 3 monthly or sooner if start to splay.  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.

Your child may still want to use an egg timer or brushing app, this is a good idea to ensure they are brushing for 2 minutes.  Most electric brushes have a 2 minute timer. Using some disclosing tablets to colour the plaque can be a fun experiment at home, speak to one of our dentists or hygienists if you are unsure how to use disclosing tablets.

Food and Drink:  Water and milk are the best drinks for teeth.  Fizzy drinks, fruit juices or fruit squashes are popular but should be limited to mealtimes. 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 eat healthy sugar-free snacks between meals as sugars should not be eaten more than four times a day.  It is not realistic to expect children to never have sugary foods, but what is also important is how often they have them. Keeping these until straight after a meal or until a specific day each week is a good suggestion, e.g. ‘sweetie Saturday’.

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 will probably already be regularly visiting the dentist.  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.

You may be offered fissure sealants. F fissure sealants are a special thin plastic coating applied to the back teeth to keep bugs and food particles out of the grooves in the teeth.  This can be done once your child’s permanent back teeth have started to come through (usually at the age of about 6 or 7) to protect them against decay. The sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years.

For further information on looking after your children’s teeth, or to make an appointment for a consultation please call us on 01242 512444

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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