How to keep those pearly whites...pearly white!

So in the final blog with regards to your families dental health, lets talk about tooth brushing - one of my favourite subjects!

As mentioned in the previous blogs, we know that plaque (bacteria) in the mouth causes tooth decay so a vital part of keeping tooth decay to a minimum is removing the plaque build up on a regular basis.  Remember plaque is soft like yoghurt so we don't need hard scrubbing but accurate gentle brushing.  If there are any hard deposits in your or your child's teeth,  you will need to see your dentist to clean it off

There are a few basic rules to adhere to, to ensure your children's teeth are kept beautiful and sparking clean for the tooth fairy

Brush your children's teeth regularly and accurately

In order to keep those baby teeth sparkling clean make sure you brush them twice a day (after breakfast and last thing before bed). I generally advise parents to first of all let their children have a good go at brushing their teeth themselves.  Make this fun, 'can you brush your teeth like this?' and give them a little demo.  I find pulling a funny face increases my chances of compliance and on that note expect your bathroom mirror to be splattered with toothpaste and water.  Once they have had a go, take over as the parent.

Supervise and help children brush their teeth until they are able to tie their own shoes laces. 

This is where, as the adult, your brushing technique will really make all the difference to their dental health.  Divide the mouth in four:  top right, top left, lower left and lower right.

Spend about 30 seconds giving each quarter of the mouth a good clean. Remember you need to clean the surfaces next to the cheeks, then the surface next to tongue and roof of the mouth and finally the biting surfaces.

There is a little video demo to show you as sometimes to visualise it makes things a little easier to understand:

Use an age appropriate toothpaste for your child.

We always recommend an age appropriate toothpaste unless there is a specific reason which your dentist will tell you about.  The reason for this is that children's and adult toothpaste have different concentrations of fluoride, which is suited to age and size.  If you have any concerns with regards to the toothpaste your have selected, please address them with your own dentist.  

Only use a thin smear of toothpaste over the surface of the toothbrush. Toothpaste should be seen a topical antibacterial ointment being accurately coated over the teeth and should be used sparingly.  However, if it is diluted with a lot of water (lots of running under the tap) its effectiveness is being reduced.  It also should not be swallowed (as will not protect the teeth) so encourage your child to spit out the tooth paste once it has frothed up in their mouth.  

However, do not encourage lots of rinsing out with lots of water after brushing. Just ask your children to spit out the excess froth and have only a small rinse with the water on the brush head following running it under the tap.  The reason for this is, as you have spent the last two minutes applying the toothpaste with a lot of care and attention, you do not want then remove it all with excessive rinsing.

Use the best brush for the job

One of my top tips is to use the best brush you can to get to the job done quickly and effectively. Think going for a walk vs. riding a bicycle.  You will get there in half the time with a lot less effort!  So for that reason I recommend an electric toothbrush as soon as you start brushing your children's teeth.  I will not mention any brands here but all I would say is that you need a rechargeable electric tooth brush that plugs into the  shaving socket.  I find battery operated ones do not have to same power and so are less efficient.  Quite a lot of brands now make character brushes which can also increase fun at brushing time. Ensure you have a medium firm head in the toothbrush, not too hard.  As the electric brush heads are actually quite small they do very effectively clean even little mouths.  It can take a while for little ones to get used to the vibration of an electric brush but persevere and I am sure they will, especially if you use one as well.

I also find that some children put up a bit of a battle brushing their teeth and often using an electric brush will mean that as long as the brush is in their mouths it is doing a better job of brushing their teeth than you as a parent could do with a manual tooth brush.

Overall, toothbrushing is a life skill the can prevent painful infections in the teeth and jaws and something that if done as a family will be fun and become part of the routine!