Angel or Monster ?
For some under 5’s brushing teeth brings out the monster in them; the teeth clamp shut and nothing will persuade them to open them. Nightmare !! But we all know that teeth have to be brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and it has to be done properly.
FACT – 50% of under 5’s have tooth decay
The stats regarding the long term health implications of poor brushing (and even worse, no brushing) are horrific and well documented.
A report in the Telegraph last year revealed that more than one million British children under five have at least two fillings and 47% of youngsters under 12 have dental decay.
Worryingly, 2% of mums confess their kids never brush their teeth while 24% said their children use a toothbrush just once a day. The research, by toothpaste brand Aquafresh, found 6% of children have never visited a dentist. The main reason mums avoid taking their children is that they think the dentist will think badly of them, while 5% feel embarrassed.
Leading dentist, Dr Tina Tanna of Chertsey, Surrey, said: “The results are shocking but not wholly surprising – dental decay is one of the most preventable diseases in the UK”.
So, now we are all suitably horrified, lets look at what ‘proper’ brushing really entails
What’s the best way to brush my child’s teeth?
Use a small, soft, toothbrush and a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Until your child turns 2, use a dot of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice (or a thin smear). After the second birthday, you can use a pea-size amount. For kids age 5 and older, use an amount the size of a small bean. Try to encourage then to spit (yes I did say spit!) out the toothpaste rather than swallow it as over time swallowing too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis which is a defect in tooth enamel caused by excessive fluoride intake during the tooth-forming years (age 0 to 8). It causes teeth to stain milky white and then brown/black – not good. Personally I’ve always stuck with minty toothpaste for my tribe as whilst it might not be as palatable as the fruit flavours it does get them used to the mint flavour and encourages them to spit rather than swallow.
Twice a day (in the morning and at night after eating dinner), gently brush the teeth on both the inside and outside surfaces, as well as the tongue, to dislodge bacteria that can cause bad breath. Once you think your child can master it, teach her to rinse with water.
Replace the toothbrush as soon as the bristles start to look worn or splayed.
Ok so we now know how to brush properly but what if you have a ‘clamper’. Here are 5 great tips for getting those mouths wide open –
Top 5 tips to get children brushing their teeth:
1) Let kids pick their own toothbrush – they will get really excited when it comes to brushing their teeth with the toothbrush they have picked.
2) Get your kids a (robust) mirror they can make silly faces in and watch themselves brushing and perhaps play their favourite song (lasting at least 2 mins if possible)
3) Brush your teeth at the same time because kids love to copy their parents or get an older sibling to teach them.
4) Tell your kids that the Tooth Fairy pays out less for decayed teeth – this will soon get them brushing better.
10) Let your child brush their favourite toy’s teeth and then ask them to ‘show’ the toy how to brush properly