Often the importance of baby teeth is often overlooked. Baby teeth help children to chew properly and aid in the development of speech, they are also important in providing a pathway for the adult teeth to erupt, helping to ensure they erupt in the correct place. It is therefore imperative that baby teeth are looked after and cherished just as much as adult teeth.
Thumb sucking and dummy sucking only become a problem if they go on for a long period of time. Most children grow out of these habits, however if a child doesn’t then a plan may be required to aid in succession. If habits such as these go on for long periods of time, then they can create issues particularly with the bite. An ‘open bite’ is a common issue resulting from these habits, meaning that the teeth do not touch when the mouth is closed. Problems such as these can often only be corrected through orthodontics, which can be a long and expensive program.
You should aim to brush for about two minutes, twice daily. However, children are not always as receptive to this as we may like! Therefore you can gradually increase the length of time you brush for, increasing to 2 minutes as they get older.
When your child is about two and a half years old, you can try and introduce them to flossing their teeth. Flossing helps to remove decay-causing bacteria from between the teeth and keep gums healthy. It may take a while for your child to get used to flossing; however, ideally their teeth should be flossed twice a week in areas where the teeth are touching.
Plaque disclosing tablets (available from your dentist or pharmacist) contain food dye that turns plaque pink or red. This can be a fun way to help you and your child see if the brushing technique used removes plaque from every tooth surface.
Toddlers can be given incentives to brush in a number of ways. Electric toothbrushes add a novelty to brushing teeth; these days you can get singing brushes, light up brushes, and ones in an array of their favourite characters to help encourage them. Singing songs or playing their favourite song whilst they brush their teeth and rewarding them for brushing for 2 minutes can be beneficial. A sticker system could be used, whereby each time they successfully complete 2 minutes, they get to put a sticker on their tooth brushing poster.