Meet the Dentist
This month we’ve been working with our early years colleagues to promote the importance of good oral health for children and their families. Currently, a quarter of 5 year-olds have tooth decay when they start school. This can impact on children’s readiness for school as those who have toothache or who need treatment may need time off school.
It’s important for early years setting to promote the importance of registering children with a dentist and provide families with information on how often to visit. Four in ten children haven’t been to visit the dentist in over a year!
We’ve summarised some of the top tips from Dr Saul Konviser who we meet with as part of our ‘Meet the Dentist’ series. We really recommend all families and early years staff take the time to watch this video so please share with friends and colleagues.
- It is important for parents to take their baby to visit the dentist as soon their first tooth comes through. All children should visit the dentist by their 1st Birthday (#DCby1)
- Plan regular visits to the dentist and have a routine check up every 6 months
- A visit to the dentist is a great opportunity to discuss any dental health questions with the dentist such as, how to look after children’s teeth and the importance of good nutrition
- Parents are the best role models for their children and it’s important to be positive about visiting the dentist. Do not threaten to take children to the dentist at times of challenging behaviour as it creates a negative association. Many dentists will have stickers and balloons to give to children at the end of the visit. Parents may want to plan a trip to the park after seeing the dentist to make the whole day an enjoyable experience
- Prioritise visits to the dentist and don’t put them off! We know poor dental health can impact on general health. Children who have toothache or who need treatment may have pain, infections and difficulties with eating, sleeping and socialising
- Brush teeth twice a day, in the morning and before bed
- Use an age appropriate fluoride toothpaste and when children finish brushing their teeth they should spit and not rinse to ensure the fluoride is not washed off the teeth
- Children should be encouraged to drink water as this is a tooth friendly drink. There is no need for fizzy drinks
- It is important to reduce the frequency that children are offered sweets or juices so they are not part of the normal daily routine. The more often children have sugary sweets and drinks the more often the teeth are under attack.
Dr Konviser recognises that parents may face some challenges when visiting the dentist. For example, is the dentist near by and accessible. Families can find their local dentist with this useful NHS Dentist finder.
Top tips for encouraging children to brush their teeth
- Get children involved as much as possible so they feel they can take ownership and it will feel less forced
- By making brushing part of the daily routine, before going to nursery or school and before bedtime, it will become a normal habit – brushing teeth should be non negotiable
- Start charts and stickers are a great way to make brushing teeth an enjoyable part of the daily routine. You can download our start chart here or encourage children to create their own one
- Make teeth brushing interactive – siblings can brush each others teeth or have a competition for the first one to brush their teeth, parents can get involved in this also
- Younger children may enjoy brushing their teeth along to a song. Here is one of our favourite tooth brushing songs that you can try at home.
We’d love to hear your top tips for encouraging children to brush their teeth- so please do share them with us! We hope you’ve found our #smilemonth updates useful and don’t forget to continue promoting the key messages in your setting as a smile is for life!
Thanks to Dr Saul Konviser for highlighting how trips to the dentist can be a positive experience for children. Visit our YouTube channel to see all of his tops tips and useful advice.
By Edwina Revel