Children and brushing; developing the habit of a lifetime

This may sound silly but I'm quite often asked the question "Why should we brush our children's milk teeth if they're going to fall out anyway?" This used to really surprise me, "How can they not know about brushing children's teeth?!" But then I thought, well it really is a good question. If you are not in the know about oral health then yes brushing a tooth that will one day fall out does seem like a waste of time. But tooth brushing is key! As adults we know this (as adults paying dental bills we really know this) and children will always need that helping hand when it comes to developing oral hygiene routines of their own. So lets go through a few things and I'll explain a little about each age group's development as we're there.

6 months old is usually the age when the first baby teeth will start to break through the gums. Teething can come with some unpleasant symptoms; red rosy cheeks, terrible nappies and sometimes quite high fevers. The gums may also be a little tender at this time so don't be surprised if you can get nowhere near them (let alone clean them!) even with all that to contend with, this is a critical age when it comes to brushing. Many parents will know the screaming hab-dabs that can happen when it comes to cleaning those pearly whites but to begin with all we are aiming to do is get the child used to having the toothbrush and paste in their mouths. Managing this is a task all on its own so don't be worried if you don't get into every nook and cranny! There are a million and one products on the market when it comes to oral health, for children of this age you don't need anything fancy; a simple brush (have a look here for some ideas) and an age appropriate toothpaste is all you need! 


Take a look at the above chart, It explains which baby teeth will erupt and when.


Fingers crossed by the time the majority of the baby teeth have popped up brushing may be a little easier, again no need for an amazing super-dooper brush, if you the parent are still brushing for your little one then a standard child sized manual brush is enough. A good way to tell if your child is ready to brush by themselves is through their handwriting. If your child can write cursive/ joined up then they now have the motor skills that are needed for brushing their teeth! Having the skills is one thing, using them is another. Mums and dads keep an eye just in case, we all know how kids will find something more exciting to do very quickly. 

The First adult teeth will start to appear around the age of 6 years old. I can already hear you saying "but we haven't lost any baby teeth yet!" this is because these wonderful new adult teeth pop up directly behind the last baby ones, at the very back of the mouth. These are the child's first molars (number 6s when you come to the dentist!) and fingers crossed these will be there for the rest of the child's life! The 6s are some of the most important teeth, they are chewing teeth and that means that they need care and attention too. Once spotted make sure these molars get a good clean, it just means reaching a little further back with the brush.


As the remaining baby teeth are replaced by new adult ones different obstacles will cross your path when it comes to your children brushing! We've had the screaming hab-dabs with the babies; from there we get the over excited 3 year olds who really want to do anything else. This is something parents tell me all the time, right up to the age of 10 or 11! Their child is just too busy to brush. But there are ways of keeping your family interested in brushing. I am a huge fan of the Aquafresh website (take a look) it has resources for parents and children to keep brushing fun! There is an age range where no amount of fun will help, the dreaded teenage years! After working within dental practices for the last 10 years I can tell you right now teenagers are the worst when it comes to brushing! I have no reason for it, no logic, nothing. Many are fantastic and really take care of their oral hygiene, seeing as this is usually the age range where braces and other orthodontic treatment is carried out that is great. But there are many who there is no getting through to. Mums and Dads you all know what I'm talking about if you currently have teenage children! All I can suggest is routine trips to the dentist (where we can nag them for you) and all the tools needed to maintain a healthy mouth. If things like floss, paste and brushes are around they might be used. 

When it comes to visiting the dentist try and keep it as regular as possible. Every 6 months is a must for all children under the age of 18, after that the dentist may congratulate them on their fantastic oral hygiene by changing their recalls to once ever year! Younger children really need this 6 month routine, not only for the oral care but so they are familiar with the dental environment. The "Magic chair" can be both an exciting and a terrifying experiance for some. We usually say to try and introduce your children to the dentist before their first birthday, this way they can sit with their parents and feel calm knowing you are there.

At thegallery we happily accept families of all ages and if you are registered with us and have children of your own, we wont charge for under 5's examinations! Come and get to know us, we don't bite! 



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