Extended Time Off School Could See Children’s Teeth At Risk
Principal Dentist, Dr Yogi Savania, offers parents advice on keeping young mouths healthy
It is likely today that we will find out that the current ‘lockdown’ situation is to continue for a few more weeks yet. This will probably not come as a great surprise, and whilst there is still a possibility of a return to school at a later time, it does seem that children may not be returning to school now until after the summer holidays.
A combination of boredom and easier access to sweets and other sugary foods in the home means that children are at an increased risk of problems such as tooth decay during this time. Given that dental practices are currently closed for all but urgent emergency advice and may be for some time, until we are advised otherwise, it makes sense to do all that you can to help your child maintain good oral health through this challenging period.
Below, we offer some tips which we hope will enable children to keep their teeth and gums healthy until things return to something more like normal.
Don’t (over) indulge sugar cravings
It is rare to find a child, and especially a young one, who doesn’t like sweets, or perhaps we should say ‘love’ them. If they had their way, children would probably live on little but sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks. Obviously, as parents, we make sure that this doesn’t happen but few of us are capable of convincing children that sweets are bad for them.
Especially at the moment when they are not otherwise occupied by school work, there is a good chance that they will be feeling bored and restless and will probably feel like eating more sweets and chocolate than normal. It is tough for almost everybody at the moment and there is nothing wrong with letting them have a few sweets to make them feel a little better about the current situation, but allowing them free rein is not a good idea.
At Alexandra Dental Care, we still see a lot of younger patients from Swadlincote, Ashby and Burton who have tooth decay which has largely been caused by over consumption of sweets or other ‘sugary’ products. By all means allow some as treats, but do try to keep these to a minimum. Keeping children occupied will help to distract from this craving and you may wish to hide the sweet ‘stash’ away from young hand’s reach.
Make sure they brush their teeth
Most of us are out of our usual routine, and kids probably especially so. It is important that this doesn’t result in them skipping cleaning their teeth twice a day. Especially with younger children, it is strongly advised that parents supervise their brushing to make sure that they do it for long enough and correctly. If your children are old enough to start flossing, now might be a good time to introduce this. With the additional time that many of us have, this could be an opportunity to teach them how to do it, possibly with the aid of an instructional video.
Adding flossing will help to remove food and bacteria that is trapped between the teeth and help to keep both teeth and gums healthy until such a time that we are able to see our patients once again.
Educate them about their teeth
Our teeth are important and if they are in poor conditions and unhealthy, can detract from our quality of life. It can also cause discomfort and anti social problems such as bad breath. Increasingly, it is believed that gum disease may play a role in problems like heart disease and even Alzheimer’s. Helping children to understand the importance of having strong healthy teeth will hopefully help them to look after them as they grow up.
As you may now have some time on your hands, why not schedule some of it to teach your children about their oral health? You can make this fun with quizzes, roleplay and also use videos with cartoon characters for the really young ones. Anything that encourages children to understand the importance of looking after their teeth can only be a good thing.
Finally, if you or your child does suffer a dental problem whilst we are closed, we may still be able to offer advice on how to manage it until we are able to offer treatment again. In some cases, such as severe toothache or trauma, we may refer you for urgent treatment. Our advice is that if you are in any doubt at all, please call Alexandra Dental Care on 01283 216347 and we will do our best to help you.Google+