Did you know that tooth decay is Australia’s most common Health Problem? At Jenny’s, we love to promote good health and we participate in the Smiles 4 Miles Program offered by Dental Health Services Victoria.
During September we will have a dental team from Smiles 4 Miles visiting the centre to offer free dental assessments for children so watch out for further information on this in coming weeks.
In the mean time, DHSV have a great website with loads of information for starting good oral health practices with children.
Check it out at dhsv.org.au/oral-health-programs/smiles4miles
Some of the tips are listed below.
Use low fluoride toothpaste from 18 months to six years of age
- Use a small pea-size amount of toothpaste.
- Encourage children to spit out toothpaste, do not swallow it or rinse with water. Not rinsing keeps a small amount of fluoride in the mouth which protects teeth.
- Spitting out can be difficult for small childre You may need to show them how to do it.
Brush teeth and along the gum line twice a day
- Brushing teeth removes plaque (the build-up on teeth) that causes tooth decay.
- Brush all surfaces of the teeth and gums twice a day (after breakfast and before bed).
- Gently brush in small circles along the gum line.
- Choose a toothbrush that is designed for children. It should have a small head and soft bristles.
- Children will need an adult to help them brush their teeth until about 7 or 8 years of age. Let your child have a go first before you brush their teeth. Give lots of encouragement.
Water is the best drink for preschoolers
- Preschoolers should drink tap water throughout the day.
- Most of Victoria’s tap water supply has fluoride in it. Fluoride protects teeth from decay.
- Remember that shop bought bottled water usually does not have fluoride in it.
- If your town water supply does not have fluoride, click here for further information.
- Plain milk is also a healthy drink for children. Children over two years of age can drink reduced fat milk.
Healthy meals and snacks are important for healthy teeth
- Enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods every day including fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy, lean meat, fish and eggs.
- Fruits and vegetables are an important part of healthy eating.
- Milk, yoghurt and cheese (and some dairy alternatives) are excellent sources of calcium, which is good for teeth. Choose dairy products that do not have added sugar.
- Many common foods and snacks have sugar in them. Eating foods with high levels of sugar causes tooth decay.
- Role model healthy eating as children learn about food by watching their parents and other family members.
Encourage children who are still sucking their fingers, thumbs or using dummies to stop
- Most children stop sucking their fingers or thumbs between two and four years of age.
- To help your child to break the habit, try encouragement and distractions.Offer a reward for a period without sucking. You could mark progress on a chart or calendar.
- Children can easily drift back into old habits. Recognise that it may take several attempts to break the habit completely.
Limit sugary foods including juice and sweet drinks
- Fruit juice and sweet drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay.
- Fruit juice with ‘no added sugar’ contains natural sugar which can cause tooth decay.
- Fresh fruit is a better alternative. It provides the same nutrients, plus fibre and is more filling than juice.
- Sweet drinks include: soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks, cordials, tea drinks, fruit drinks and energy drinks.
- Diet soft drinks contain acids which can also damage teeth
- Limit foods high in added sugars. Eating foods with high levels of sugar causes tooth decay.
- Avoid using foods as incentives or rewards for good behaviour.
Children should have an oral health assessment by 2 years of age
- By the time children are at preschool, they should have had an oral health assessment. If not, make an appointment with your local dental clinic.
- Find out more about free or low-cost public dental services available to children.