Trick, Treat or Time for Your Children’s Dentist Appointment?
The rise in the number of children overweight or obese is widely reported in the news, what isn’t quite so widely documented is that the foods and habits that lead to them gaining weight also lead to bad teeth in kids.
It’s Halloween, the holiday that has become synonymous with children filling themselves up on sugary treats, so let’s take a minute to focus on how you can help your little ones look after their teeth.
What Causes Bad Teeth in Kids?
Not all children gain weight as a side effect of eating lots of sweets and convenience food.
Even if they don’t, when they eat these things the effects can still be seen in their teeth.
As a dentist for children, as well as adults, we see bad teeth in kids a lot these days.
Often parents are surprised by the news of problems when they attend their children’s dentist appointment.
They don’t realise their children are developing potentially damaging eating habits, so how can they guard against them?
Bad teeth in kids is caused by sugar coming into contact with and remaining in contact with the teeth regularly, so limiting this contact is the way to combat the problem.
If you decide they can eat lots of candy on a treat day, like Halloween, that should ideally be an exception to the rule.
Limiting sugar intake and regularly brushing teeth, at least twice a day, will limit nasty surprises at your children’s next dentist appointment.
Ways to Prevent Bad Teeth in Kids
Unsurprisingly, as a dentist for children, our first tip is to make sure that your kids brush their teeth well at least twice a day.
If they have a sugary treat in the middle of the day – and that include dried fruit, because even natural sugars can coat and damage teeth – they might consider brushing then too, or at least rinsing their mouth with water.
A leading cause of bad teeth in kids is sugary drinks.
Fizzy pop and even natural fruit juices are high sugar.
Try to encourage your child to drink plenty of water instead of these drinks – you can help them to change their tastes. If you must give them sugary drinks from time to time have them use a straw.
Eat fruit before a meal, instead of after.
Fruit is great for the body but it digests more quickly than most other foods and it leaves sugar on the teeth. By eating a portion of fruit as a starter, the saliva created by the rest of your meal will help to wash away this sugar from the mouth. Try it and see what impact it has at your children’s dentist appointment.
Our last tip for preventing bad teeth in kids is to get out of the habit of using food as a reward.
Let’s face it, when we do it is usually sugary food.
By all means let your kids have treats, participate in Halloween and other events but it’s a great idea if you can find something else to reward your children with on a daily basis for good behaviour.
‘If you do X all week we’ll visit Y at the weekend’ can work, depending on the age of your kids, as well as stickers and verbal praise.
Using sugar as a reward can set up a bad habit for life. I mean this post is about bad teeth in kids but when was the last time you rewarded yourself with a sugary treat?
If a habit is set in childhood it is difficult to get out of!
Fiveways Dental is a dentist for children and adults with over 40 years of experience serving the Liverpool community.
If you are concerned that your children’s dentist appointment might bring bad news and you’re not sure what to do about bad teeth in your kids, please ask us any time. We are here to help.