Breaking the habits of a lifetime

As parents we all want to pass our good habits on to our children….

But when it comes to oral health, many of us have missed the memo that things have moved on since our own childhoods. Here we set the record straight about the dentistry dos and don’ts for the kids of today.

Myth 1: Flossing is for grown-ups

Not true! While in the UK many of us aren’t introduced to flossing until we’re in our teens, the fact is you’re never too young to start. Of course, no one expects a four-year-old to be able to floss – but we do know that children learn best through play and through copying grown-ups. Make sure they see you carrying out your own teeth-cleaning routine, including flossing, and let them know that flossing is something they will be doing too, as soon as they are able. Once they’ve established a confident brushing technique – usually by the age of 7 or 8 – they’ll have the dexterity to start trying to floss by themselves.

Myth 2: it’s best to brush straight after meals

If you urge your children to brush straight after meals, it’s probably because that’s what you were told to do as a child – but this is one area where, as parents, we need to catch up. Today’s consensus is that brushing right after a meal can actually do more damage than good. Why? Because during meals, acids and sugar are at their highest levels in the mouth, and can wear away at tooth enamel. Brushing at this moment can be as abrasive as sandpaper on that weakened enamel. Instead, wait (ideally 45 minutes) for your mouth to recover naturally from the acid assault and allow saliva to do its job – which is to naturally wash away food particles and restore a neutral pH level in the mouth. Help this process along by washing your food down with water.

Myth 3: tongue brushing is for grown-ups

Not true! Children can suffer just as much as adults with bad breath because the tongue is a place where bacteria happily outstay their welcome. Brushing the tongue gently back and forth, and side to side, gets rid of those unwanted guests and keeps children’s breath nice and fresh. Get little ones on board with the idea by asking them to show off their best sticky-out-tongue face in the mirror, and gross them out with the thought of millions of bacteria pooping in their mouth – trust us, they won’t have a problem with tongue brushing after that!

Myth 4: one brush fits all

It might be tempting to let your child have the coolest-looking brush in the supermarket, but all brushes are not made equal – picking the wrong one could even damage their enamel. At Happy Kids Dental, our dentists and therapists take into consideration your child’s diet, brushing habits and the health of their enamel before deciding on a ‘prescription’ toothbrush best suited to their needs. This might be a soft nylon-bristled brush, ideal for weaker enamel, an electric toothbrush to help with dexterity, or a specially designed brush to assist with special needs. We’ll also recommend the right toothpaste, too. The results of our care and attention in this area is that our patients get to grips with brushing quickly and enjoy excellent results.

Statistics show that the earlier children are introduced to new behaviours, the more likely those behaviours will become habits that stick for life. And there’s no better habit they can get used to than great oral hygiene. For advice and tailor-made assistance, contact the team at Happy Kids Dental!

Want to know more about how we create healthy, happy and cavity-free smiles? Pop into the practice for a tour, or call us on 020 7078 0822 to arrange a consultation!

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