A lot of adults with oral diseases usually accept that their condition is part of growing older or an inherited disposition. In actual fact, studies have shown that many of the oral health issues that adults experience are a result of high risk habits and behaviours learnt from an early age.
With rates of tooth erosion, cavities and decay increasing among Australian children, it has become even more important to teach them proper oral health care and hygiene habits that are maintained throughout their childhood and adult life.
The right time to start caring for your child’s oral health is when they are infants through to the age of 3. By that time, they should understand how to keep their teeth clean and healthy, as well as why they should do it. That doesn’t mean you can just leave them to it – kids have notoriously short attention spans. You will have to regularly supervise their brushing and flossing until the age of 9 or 10, or until you think they have learnt to self-manage their oral habits correctly – without your help.
Establish a proper oral care and hygiene routine
Ensure your child brushes their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Make sure they use a soft bristled toothbrush with a pea-sized dollop of fluoride toothpaste, and after they have completed their brushing, they should spit not swallow. You should also start assisting with flossing or interdental brushing, once two of their teeth have made contact.
Visit the dentist
You can start taking your child to the dentist for a check up every six months as soon as their first teeth start to appear. Make them aware of the fact that regular dental visits are an essential part of maintaining good oral health. If your family is eligible, the Child Dental Benefits Schedule benefit should be more than enough to cover the cost of these all-important preventative dental checkups.
Establish healthy food and drinks habits
Over 70% of Australian children consume too much sugar in their diets. The potential adverse effects of this unhealthy habit include obesity and diabetes. Additionally, sugary foods and beverages can have devastating consequences for teeth – with over 20,000 Australian kids requiring hospitalisation for preventable oral health issues in 2015-2016. Keep your child’s diet healthy and avoid refined carbohydrates. Also remember to include fluoridated tap water as part of their liquid intake.
Ensure oral protection
Sugary foods and drinks aren’t the only threat to your child’s oral health. Playing contact sports at school and other risky physical activities can increase the risk of oral injury or trauma. Ensure that your child is properly equipped with the right safety gear, including dental mouthguards and helmets. In the event of an injury, be prepared and make sure you’re familiar with basic dental first aid, such as what to do when a tooth gets knocked out.