Being a parent is a massive learning curve and with so much conflicting advice around, it can be hard to know what’s right and who’s right. So, our rt healthy teeth Dentist, Dr Lincoln Law, shares his advice on protecting your kids’ teeth now and into the future.
1. Don’t feed the feeders. If you’re thinking about giving your child lollies, think again. ‘The trouble with lollies is that they stick to the teeth. This provides ongoing food for oral bacteria, which feed on the sugars. They then produce acidic waste, which can cause tooth decay,’ says Lincoln.
2. If they must have a treat, make sure they have it with a meal. When you chew, your mouth automatically produces saliva, which helps to kick-start the digestion of starches. Saliva also lubricates food for easier swallowing plus it helps to wash away food debris. This helps to clean the teeth and the mouth giving mouth bacteria less chance to eat food left behind.
3. Don’t brush immediately after eating. ‘This is especially so if your kids have been consuming acidic foods and drinks (like fruit juices and soft drinks),’ says Dr Law. ‘It’s important to wait for at least half an hour before brushing. This is because acids soften the enamel so if you get your kids to brush too quickly afterwards, they could literally be brushing the enamel away. So, get your kids brushing twice a day, before eating in the morning and before bed – preferably about an hour after the last meal or drink of the day (unless that drink is water).
4. Go with H2O. The natural way to quench thirst is with water, which has the added bonus of being sugar and acid free.
Plus, most areas in Australia have fluoride added to the water supply, which helps to harden and protect kids’ and adults’ teeth.
5. Try sugar-free gum. If your kids are old enough, chewing sugar-free gum after eating sugary and/or acidic food and drink is a good idea. It stimulates the production of saliva, which helps to cleanse the mouth.
6. See them? Clean them. ‘It’s vital that you start looking after your kids’ teeth as soon as they appear. Milk teeth (baby teeth) for example, serve a long-term purpose – they hold the space in the jaw for the adult teeth to come through. And, if milk teeth are lost, there may not be enough space for the adult teeth, resulting in the need for orthodontic treatment. Early dental visits are also important to ensure that children don’t associate a visit to the dentist with fear. Plus, good teeth boost children’s self esteem. To clean your child’s teeth, use a child’s toothbrush (which is small enough to get to the back teeth) and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Remember, your kids don’t have the dexterity to clean their teeth until they can tie their shoelaces. They’ll need to be taught good oral health habits – so show them early on and lead by example,’ advises Lincoln Law.
7. Ask your dentist. There may be certain treatments that your dentist can use to protect teeth. Take dental sealants, for example, which are a thin layer of plastic-like material. Your dentist will brush them into the grooves of chewing teeth, i.e. the molars, which helps to provide a barrier against attacking mouth bacteria. These sealants help to protect the deep areas in the mouth, which can be a challenge to reach with a toothbrush.
Dr Lincoln Law is a practising dentist at rt healthy teeth, 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. We are conveniently located close to Central Station. Just use the Chalmers Street exit and walk up Devonshire Street.
To make an appointment to see Dr Lincoln Law or to see one of our other caring dentists, call 1300 991 044.
For more information see our website.