Many of us come equipped with our own preconditioned beliefs on dental care dos and don'ts. Tying a string to a loose tooth then to a doorknob that's to be slammed closed or holding an oversized cube of ice to the gum line to numb it before having someone pluck the dying bone from the body. If all else fails there are plenty of the old stereotypes or home remedies laying around if you haven't worn out your fingertips on internet search engines. Science and technological advancement aside dental offices around the world are plagued with the same parental myth about how best to handle a child's dental care.
Break the cycle
The biggest myth of all is that fruit juices are healthy. Children are not particular fans of the plain tastes of water leaving most parents turning to flavored powdered additives or fruit juices. The high level of sugars in these additives and juices are the Helen of Troy in this story. The sugar is what actually rots the tooth. Some extreme cases resulted in a child's teeth being nothing, but stumps. Everything in moderation, but focus on the dental needs of the child and reduce the daily intake or dilute the juice heavily with water.
Dried fruit isn't any better of a solution. The sugar content is often higher and the sticky surface of the dried fruit stick to the child's teeth and the acid from the fruit is free to eat away at the enamel. If you want to stay health conscious for you child while taking into account the child's dental care give the child a whole piece of fruit (two tops a day) avoiding overly sugary fruit like bananas, pineapples and grapes and instead substituting peaches, kiwi or the classic pear.
Parenting and child dental care
Almost all parenting courses, magazines will suggest parents allow children to brush their own teeth once they reach the age of seven. The attention given to child dental care in the early stages of the child's life is essential to the development of healthy dental care practices as an adult. Consider the child's maturity level before allowing them to be solely responsible and/or supervising the child can help ensure proper dental care is established. Incorporating an electric toothbrush with a timer can also do the trick; two minutes minimum.
A few last pointers
No need to rush! Fluoride in toothpaste will work on teeth for up to thirty minutes.
Brushing teeth after eating acidic food is a threat to the enamel made soft by the acid in the food.
Normalise the habit of going to the child's dentist as soon as teeth begin to appear.
18 September 2017
As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.