How To Reach Adulthood With Healthy Teeth And Gums
Advice from the Foxhall Dental Practice to help parents manage their children’s oral health.
The chances are that, over Christmas, your children will have consumed even more sugar than they usually do the rest of the year. Any ‘leftover’ chocolates will soon be gone too, ravenously consumed by eager teenagers and younger children. What better time then, to remind parents about how important it is to look after the oral health of young children and teenagers.
One thing that you can be sure about is that younger kids and teens tend not to think about the consequences of things that they do now upon their later life. However much we try to explain, it rarely registers and, as frustrating as that might be for parents, it shows that we still need to take responsibility for certain areas of their life and that includes looking after their oral health. Failure to do this is likely to lead to them reaching adulthood with poor oral health and probably a number of missing teeth as well.
Set a good example
The first piece of advice that our Ipswich family dentists offer is to set a good example yourself. Before you start telling your children what to do, ask yourself if you are doing as much as you can to look after your own teeth and gums. Young children especially will pick up on our habits which they will see as the norm. If you just give your own teeth a cursory brushing and don’t bother flossing, then there is every chance that they will do the same Make a point of cleaning your teeth regularly and doing it well. Use dental floss too; not only will it help you to avoid gum disease but may well help your children to avoid it too.
Don’t overdo the sweets
Although it will be almost impossible to avoid them eating any sweets at all, that shouldn’t be a reason to encourage kids to see sweets as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of their diet. Be careful too, especially with younger children, to avoid giving them seemingly ‘healthy’ alternatives such as raisins too frequently. Although this is done with the best of intentions, dried fruits stick very easily to the teeth and are full of sugar too.
The same thing applies to any drinks that you have around the house. Many soft drinks are high in sugar and also acids that can damage the tooth enamel. Try to avoid or limit these and encourage the drinking of water which is better for their teeth and their general health too.
Ensure dental appointments are booked … and kept
From around one year old, you should bring your children to our Ipswich dental practice for regular check ups. Starting them this young helps them to become comfortable with the dental environment and makes it a ‘normal’ thing to do. This means that they are less likely to develop a fear of going to the dentist as they become older. Regular monitoring of teeth and gums is essential for a healthy mouth. It can enable us to help prevent problems from developing as well as enabling us to treat any problems that do occur in their earliest stage.
We can almost hear you saying “that is all very well but my 14, 15, 16 year old refuses to do what I tell them”. We sympathise and are sure that you are far from alone if this is the case. Persuading teenagers to do something they don’t want to do can be very tricky and any attempt to persuade them otherwise is likely to be met with a rolling of the eyes at the very least. Where gentle persuasion fails though, you may need to resort to other tactics. Most children this age will still largely be reliant on their parents for any finances. Withholding money or limiting game time might work as a last resort. The important thing is to work out what works for you and what will help them to receive essential dental care until they become adults and then, it really is up to them (although as parents, we never stop trying of course).
The sometimes hard work of getting your children to look after their teeth and to see a dentist regularly will pay off and should result in them having a healthy mouth going into their adult years. It will also hopefully encourage them to continue this themselves and also improve the chances of your grandchildren having healthy teeth too.
However hard it may seem, it is worth reminding yourself of all the problems that can arise if you neglect this aspect of their upbringing. Some of the more common problems that can arise if this is neglected include:
- Tooth decay, along with the painful toothache that can occur alongside it
- Gum disease. Yes, even children can get this and can lead to wobbly teeth which may fall out
- Crooked and uneven teeth that may require significant orthodontic treatment in later life if not treated early
- Premature loss of baby teeth. Although these will be replaced, losing them early can result in teeth coming through unevenly.
If you feel that you may not have done all that you can to help your children look after their teeth well, it is never too late to start. A good starting point is to book them in for an appointment to see one of our friendly dentists at the Foxhall Dental Practice for a check up. You can do this by calling us today on 01473 258396. We look forward to meeting you and your family!