Parents have a lot of additional pressure at this difficult time, but do take care to keep an eye on children’s oral care.
We don’t know how long we will be in lockdown, but indications are that it will be a little while yet, and although there are calls for schools to reopen as soon as possible, it is likely that children will be learning from home for several weeks to come.
This can put a lot of extra strain on parents, especially if they need quiet time to work from home too.
With all the added pressure, it can be all too easy to let things slip a little and take our eye off the food and drinks that our children are consuming and if they are cleaning their teeth or not.
We may have made a conscious decision to allow a little leeway with our children at this time. After all, they are probably struggling too. Online lessons aren’t quite the same as ‘in person’ teaching and they will be missing their friends as well; instead watching TV for much of their stimulation. In all likelihood, they will spend quite a bit of their time feeling bored, and when this happens, they are more likely to reach for the biscuits or sweets. As our Canterbury dental team are all too aware, this kind of habit can soon lead to tooth decay, with parents then also having to cope with a child possibly with severe toothache.
Before we look at ways of helping to keep your kids teeth healthy at this time, it is worth reminding you that medical and dental intervention is more difficult to access quickly at the moment. Given that young children may have to go into hospital to have a tooth extracted, we are sure that, given the current situation, it pays to do all that we can to avoid this if at all possible.
How to keep kid’s teeth healthy
As most parents will tell you, their kids need routine. This is a difficult time for sure, but routine can still play a significant part in their well being and indeed, in their oral health care. It can be all too easy for kids to roll out of bed, eat some sugary cereal and log on to their lessons, leaving their teeth unbrushed for most of the day.
At Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, we recommend that children brush their teeth before they start their school day. It can be all too easy to give in to them and agree for them to do so after the first lesson for example, but as they become wrapped up in their school lessons and you in your home working, this can soon be forgotten. Starting the day as they would if they were going to school will help them have a healthier mouth as well as making it easier to readjust once they are back at school again.
Home schooling can lead to a more relaxed environment and you might let them dress how they want or even stay in their PJs for much of the day. We do advise though that you don’t extend this to how they eat. Left to their own devices, kids will happily snack throughout the day, regularly dipping their hands into the biscuit or sweet tin. This can provide a more or less continual flow of sugar to their teeth and gums, providing the bacteria in their mouths with a constant food supply. Over time, this will almost inevitably lead to tooth decay and the need for a cavity to be filled at our Canterbury dental clinic. Try to keep them to a regular routine of three healthy meals a day and possibly allow them a ‘treat’ once during the day, for example, after finishing their school work.
At night, it goes without saying that they need to clean their teeth well before going to bed. If you have young children, please make sure that you supervise them doing this so that they brush their teeth correctly and for long enough.
Why children’s teeth are so important
There are two types of children’s teeth; those early teeth that will fall out and be replaced by another set and the second and final set that comes through. Most parents will accept that the latter especially are important as they will have these final teeth throughout the rest of their lives and poor oral health at this stage can lead to a lifetime of suffering with poor quality teeth.
Less importance is sometimes put upon the first set of teeth, sometimes called ‘baby teeth’ or ‘milk teeth’. Although it is true that these will eventually fall out and be replaced, if lost prematurely, they can create problems for a child’s speech development and eating habits. As the first teeth also act as ‘placeholders’, they can lead to the adult teeth coming through crooked if they are prematurely lost. In addition, no parent wants to see their very young children in tears with a very painful toothache. So it’s well-worthwhile looking after those “baby” teeth diligently too.
Times may be tough now, but please remember that there are better days ahead. Helping your children take care of their teeth now will stand them in good stead for when they are back in school once again.
Children’s dental appointments at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic can be made by calling our practice on 01227 463529. Our family-friendly team looks forward to your call!