If your child is a typical toddler, chances are he or she isn’t always the biggest fan of brushing their teeth. Paired with an inbuilt love of sugary treats, this can make caring for a pre-schooler’s teeth one of the trickier sides of parenting! But with tooth extractions in toddlers on the rise, children’s dental health is an issue none of us can ignore. We’re here to help you keep those pearly whites in great shape, with ideas for making tooth brushing fun, and advice on healthy eating to keep sugar intake down.
Baby teeth matter
They’re going to fall out anyway; does it really matter if children’s milk teeth are looked after well? The short answer is yes: toothache in baby teeth still causes pain and
invasive dental procedures can be traumatic for young children, so it’s important to prevent decay with a good dental care regime. With 24% more under-4s undergoing tooth extractions than a decade ago, it’s vital to do what we can to reverse the trend.
Instilling a kids’ dental care routine of dentist visits and tooth brushing early on also helps children to understand the importance of looking after their teeth, so that by the time their adult teeth come in, dental care is an ingrained habit.
Tooth brushing tips
Children’s dental health begins with a good tooth brushing routine. If, like many parents, you struggle to get your kids on board with the toothbrush, you might find these tips helpful:
- Get into a routine of brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- ‘Brush your teeth’ songs and nursery rhymes can help make brushing fun. They also encourage kids to brush for longer, until the song ends.
- Choosing their own toothbrush can help children to feel in control of the process and motivate them to want to brush their teeth.
- Let children see you brush your teeth. Toddlers often want to emulate their parents, so seeing adults taking care of their teeth may make them want to copy.
- Although they need your help to ensure their teeth are brushed properly, it’s good to give kids some control. So let them use a paste-free toothbrush before you take over. Or let them brush your teeth while you brush theirs!
Here at Toad Hall we’re doing our bit to encourage tooth brushing. At our nurseries the children brush their teeth together as a group, and we talk about why it’s important to make sure teeth are regularly cleaned.
Tooth friendly diets
What should children eat to help maintain good dental health? The key is to limit the amount of sugar in the diet. At Toad Hall Nurseries, our healthy eating menus have been nutritionally analysed so that you can be sure they are a balanced and low-sugar option for your child. Here are some key tips for a healthy diet at home:
- Fresh and dried fruit are better for health than sugary sweets, but it’s best to limit them to mealtimes.
- Don’t use sweets as a treat or a reward; instead give them a hug or do something together that they enjoy.
- Look out for sugars contained in items you might not expect, such as medicines.
- You can read more about sugar and its impact on children’s dental health in our special information sheet for parents.