As parents, we often struggle with how to make teeth brushing of our younger prodigy a possible AND successful mission. Since this February is Children’s Dental Care month, I reached out to the lovely team of Bite Dentistry for some insight on the matter. Dr. O’Connell comes to the rescue with 9 things that we can do right now to improve our children’s dental health.
Dr. O’Connell when is the best time to brush our kids’ teeth in the morning – before or after breakfast and why?
❝After breakfast, because then you clean all the particles of food away. You apply a layer of fluoride to the teeth which helps strengthen the outer layer against decay and you leave your breath smelling fresh.❞
How can we make teeth brushing fun for the kids?
❝There are lots of apps that sing songs in time to the tooth brushing and will mean sufficient time is dedicated to the task. Teeth are very precious and once damaged it becomes an uphill battle to maintain their health. Prevention is definitely better than cure.❞
When is it okay to let our children start brushing on their own?
❝When a child can competently write they will be dexterous enough to clean their teeth. You can let your child start the process as long as a parent finishes it off by getting into the harder to reach areas. The cleaner your teeth are kept the less likely you are to ever need a filling.❞
Are electric toothbrushes good for keeping children’s teeth healthy?
❝Electric toothbrushes remove twice as many bacteria in the same time frame so they are the best investment for keeping everyone’s dentition in optimal condition.❞
What foods would you recommend avoiding or being cautious about to prevent decay in milk teeth?
❝The most important thing to remember is that all decay is caused by the combination of our natural bacteria (which start the digestive process by producing acid) and the food we eat. The more acid-producing the food the stronger the effect on the teeth.
Sugary foods produce stronger and more potent acid which in turn burns into the tooth starting the process of decay. It is the frequency of sugar intake that is what determines the potential for damage. Eat sweet or acidic foods at meal times not in between and brush your teeth thoroughly each morning and night from when the teeth appear.❞
What advice and tips could you give when children start losing their milk teeth?
❝The baby teeth start falling out from age 5/6 but these teeth help guide their adult successor into the correct position. As soon as these teeth appear in your baby’s mouth please start cleaning them. Some damage can have occurred before the age of 2 so by the time the baby molars are ready to fall out they have needed fillings. Baby teeth may still be in your child’s mouth up to the age of 12/13 so they need careful attention from their eruption.❞
How does the dental check-up for children look like? Is there something that parents could do to make the whole experience fun and pleasant for the kids?
❝We like to see the children as soon as they have teeth whether they let us look or not. Coming along with their parent and watching what happens allows them to become accustomed to the process. Sometimes if parents count their teeth and talk about why we want to count them.
I usually tell them I’m counting for the tooth fairy. We reward the child with stickers whether they sit on the chair or not, whether they open or not, the most important thing is to establish trust. We want every patient to have 100 percent healthy teeth. Then no intervention is required and everyone has fun.❞
What advice would you like to give children and youngsters in looking after their oral health?
❝Invest time and energy brushing your beautiful teeth with fluoride toothpaste and electric toothbrush, take sugar in moderation, get regular check-ups. After almost 30 years as a dentist, I can tell you this will work and in 99 percent of cases, children will reach adulthood never having to have fillings.❞
How could parents check their kids’ teeth for proper development and issues during the COVID pandemic when regular appointments are no longer available?
❝Consistent investment in home care and watching not to snack on sugary foods between meals is all a parent can do. Plaque disclosing tablets are great to let older kids see how well they are removing the bacteria (known as biofilm) from the teeth. This can be a fun exercise to do but just make sure you are not going out in public shortly thereafter as the staining to the lips and tongue can be vivid.❞
The pandemic put lots of things on hold, including our regular dental check-ups. Hopefully, the advice you got here helps you deal with the oral health issues that you might be facing with your children now. Looking after our own and our loved ones’ dental health is certainly one of the key ingredients of enjoying a happy life. For any questions or inquiries reach out to your dentist or the lovely team at Bite Dentistry. They are devoted to helping you get the shiny and healthy smile that you would love for life.
Dr. O’Connell received her dental degree from the University of Edinburgh. She has run her own private dental practice Bite Dentistry in Edinburgh for 25 years.
She has received her MFGDP and FFGDP from the Royal College of Surgeons London and her Diploma of Implant Dentistry from the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. She is currently President of the ADI.
In 2014 Dr. O’Connell won a UK business award from Software of Excellence as well as winning Best Overall Practice in Scotland. In 2015 her practice won the Best Patient Care Award.
She is a KOL for Dentsply Sirona in the field of digital dentistry and implant dentistry. In her spare time, she looks after her three daughters. Her interests outside dentistry include hockey, sailing, skiing, reading, and enjoying the great outdoors.