Healthy Teeth in Childhood

The dental hygiene habits we develop in childhood help us to maintain healthy adult teeth. The healthy habits reduce the risk of cavities and will ensure children are able to eat, sleep and function well as they grow. 

To help children keep their teeth healthy, here are 5 top tips:

Encourage children to eat a healthy, balanced diet

Just like the rest of our bodies, what we eat can help to keep our teeth healthy. This is also true for children. Food and drink high in sugar should be kept to a minimum as they can lead to tooth decay. If you have any concerns about your child’s teeth or how to manage their diet to keep their teeth healthy, talk to your dentist. In some cases, sealants may be suggested as they can help prevent cavities from forming. 

Visit the dentist regularly 

Just like adults, children need to keep a regular routine of visiting the dentist twice a year. By visiting the dentist regularly, it becomes a normal activity that will encourage children to keep up throughout their lifetimes. The first visit to the dentist should be booked within 6 months of their first tooth appearing – or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. Before visiting the dentist, talk to your child and answer any questions that they may have.

Act as a role model 

Caregivers should demonstrate good oral health habits for their children. This means brushing your teeth with your children and showing them what you are doing. It is important to not make tooth brushing feel like a chore, instead, make it feel like a part of the daily routine. Brushing teeth for two minutes, twice per day can feel like a lot to a child, so you could consider using an app that can help make brushing teeth fun. 

Show children how to brush and floss correctly

Children under 3 should be shown how to brush their teeth and supported in doing so. When they are this age, they may not understand that they need to spit the toothpaste out, and so a very small, rice sized amount of toothpaste should be used. When they are older, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used. When the teeth begin to touch each other, your child should start to floss. Encourage them to brush and floss twice per day. 

Do not share eating or drinking utensils

Our mouths contain lots of bacteria, which we should not share with others. Encourage your children to not share cups, bottles or other items with friends. If possible, try to sanitise items that may have been in your child’s mouth, or in another child’s mouth, so as to prevent bacterial spread and infections. 

Key takeaways 

Childhood is an important time to develop healthy dental hygiene habits. These habits start with good role models, regular brushing and a great dentist. Children should avoid sugary drinks

and food to reduce the risk of developing cavities. They should also brush and floss their teeth twice per day to ensure that their mouths are clean and their teeth are healthy. Caregivers can help children to develop good oral health behaviours when they are young, and these will then become lifetime habits.