I was recently sent some research related to children’s oral health, conducted by Simplyhealth. This research showed that 10% of British children have missed more than a full day of school due to receiving treatment for tooth decay. In cases where children were required to have a tooth extraction performed in a hospital setting, 19% of these children had a total of four teeth extracted due to tooth decay.
This survey went on to explore the problems parents face when trying to ensure their children’s oral health is maintained. It revealed that 64% of parents found their biggest difficulty was trying to ensure their children brushed their teeth for a full two minutes, twice a day. It found that 21% of children were brushing their teeth once a day or less and 13% of children aged seven and under were brushing their teeth without adult supervision or assistance. (The recommendation is that all children aged seven and under are supervised and/or assisted whilst brushing their teeth).
The survey continues looking into other factors causing tooth decay in children; I will put the link this at the end of this post. It is definitely worth a read.
As a parent to two little girls (aged two and four), we experience these difficulties too. Our eldest is now of an age where she is beginning to understand that we are brushing her teeth to prevent them getting ‘sore’, our youngest just think we are attempting to torture her! (The struggle is real!)
With our eldest starting school, we’ve begun to encounter new challenges; low in sugar lunches and snacks. As a family, we are very conscious about maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. So we were shocked when we began to look at the amount of sugar hidden in normal day-to-day foods, that would usually find their way into lunch boxes. Some examples include; yoghurts which contain 16.6g of sugar per 100g; fruit fromage frais 13.3g/100g; squash cordials 24.6g/100g; cereal bars 34g/100g, to name a few. We would usually look at these statistics, with concerns about balanced diets and obesity levels, but many are forgetting the impact these can have on children’s teeth too. Even with the healthiest of diets; children will still be exposed to sugars that could potentially harm their teeth, which is why maintaining good oral health is vital.
Here are some ways to help take care of your children’s teeth;
- Brush twice a day – set a routine for this, it really helps.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste.
- For older children, floss (in between teeth, not the dance!)
- Make sure your children have regular check ups at the dentist.
- For babies, make sure you begin brushing their teeth as soon as their first tooth comes through.
- Reduce the amount of sugar in your child’s diet (I know this one is easier said than done).
- Wait an hour after eating before brushing teeth; this allows the saliva the time it needs to neutralise the acids in your mouth, and gives the enamel time to re-harden. Brushing straight after can actually do more harm than good to your teeth.
- Replace sugary drinks with water. If your child wants to take a drink to bed with them, make sure it is water.
- Supervise children under the age of seven whilst they are brushing their teeth.
- Be the role model for your children; make it a family activity. Let them see you brush your teeth.
It is sometimes a tough battle getting children to brush their teeth, but the time you invest now in educating them about oral hygiene, will shape how they look after their teeth through teenage years and into adulthood.
There is lots of information and resources online related to taking care of your children’s teeth; as well as games and activities to encourage them to have a good dental hygiene routine.
Other Helpful Links
Simplyhealth Consumer Oral Health Survey 2019 – see the children’s section for more on the information above.
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Thank you to Simplyhealth for partnering with me on this post.