Last month we were very lucky to be visited in group by one of our parents and committee members Audrey Costa who just happens to be a dentist. The children absolutely loved the chance to play dentists while learning how to look after their own teeth. Here’s what Audrey has to say about her visit along with a great guide for parents on caring for our little one’s teeth.

Dentist book story telling
Learning about our teeth

I had the opportunity last week of introducing myself at Puddleducks as the dentist!  The children were brilliant and listened while we read stories about the importance of our teeth and looked at different types of food and how they can cause cavities. Each child left with their own little pretend play dentist set to show their parents and to play dentists at home.

I’m passionate about fostering a ‘teeth for life’ attitude and where better to start than with our youngest of patients! This philosophy can only be fulfilled by working hand in hand with parents, hence I’m taking this opportunity to pass on some useful advice and tips.

Try to avoid giving sugary snacks between meals. This is because our saliva can repair the tooth damage caused each time we have something sugary but this process unfortunately takes hours! So, ideally make sure that sugar intake is infrequent. Also since there isn’t enough saliva going round at night avoid sugary snacks at nighttime (such as bedtime biscuits). It’s always a good idea to read the sugar content of readymade snacks such as anything with dried or pressed fruit. Parents are often surprised by snacks like Yo-yo bears, just one 20g yo-yo contains 4.9g of sugar, and a 14g box of raisins is about 10g sugar. Sugar in fresh fruit is okay though as it only gets released in the stomach! Snacks such as cheese, vegetables, and breadsticks are all good examples.

If you can, I’d suggest avoiding sugary drinks. I always urge parents who give alternative drinks to kids who ‘do not like water’ to reconsider… water and milk are what every creature on earth is meant to drink, and what every human drank before squash, juice and fizzy were invented. Our taste buds quickly take a liking to the sweet taste and that in return causes an individual not to like unsweetened drinks! But this can be reversed with a bit of perseverance.

If you’re brave take a look at adjusting your shopping list, in other words do not buy and store sugary food/drink at home: let’s face it, even I as an adult, and a dentist, would find it hard to resist the constant temptation!

Use an age appropriate FLUORIDE toothpaste. When fluoride becomes part of the tooth it makes it much more resistant to decay. To ensure this happens, teach children not to rinse their mouths after their teeth are brushed (you could always try a strawberry flavoured toothpaste if your child dislikes mint).

Children under 8 should have their teeth brushed by an adult. For a good view and access I suggest lying the child’s head on your lap while sitting on the edge of the bed (use very little toothpaste and let the child spit every now and again). Singing made-up funny songs about teeth enjoying a clean is one way to get very young kids to cooperate. Another way is to educate your children about the importance of teeth: once they understand then they are more likely to let you clean their teeth. There are plenty of good children’s books that can be helpful with this including ‘Open wide, what’s inside’ by Alex Rushworth (a paediatric dentist).

This may seem over the top but it really isn’t: do FLOSS your children’s teeth a few times a week if not each night …germs love living all nice and cosy in between teeth: a lot of decay starts here and it takes longer for a dentist to spot it! You-tube videos on how to floss are helpful, alternatively ask your dentist or the dental nurse for a demonstration!

I hope this helps! Getting dental prevention right early in life is a massive investment for our children: good teeth mean a better quality of life whether it’s about staying pain free, eating comfortably, saving money or having a confident smile!

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