Growing teeth need plenty of attention, which means looking after them effectively at home and seeing the dentist for preventive dental care. Children under the age of 18 benefit from having their treatment covered by the NHS.
When should children start coming to the dentist?
Teeth start to emerge at around six months and this is the best time to bring your little ones for their first check-up. This will ensure they get used to the sights, smells and sounds of the dental practice, as well as encouraging a more relaxed approach to attending appointments.
When the adult teeth start to emerge, at around the age of 6, you can start to think about using fissure sealants.
The fissures on the biting surfaces of the back teeth are very narrow so can be hard to keep clean, which means bacteria and food particles can stick around and start to damage the enamel. The application of fissure sealants is a preventive treatment that involves applying a plastic coating to these difficult to reach grooves, protecting teeth from possible decay.
Sealants can last for years but will need regularly checking to ensure the protective coating is still intact, and although treated teeth are much better protected, they will still need regular brushing and flossing.
Fluoride varnish can be used to help prevent tooth decay or stop it getting worse. It is a safe, concentrated form of fluoride that helps to strengthen enamel and make it more resistant to attacks from acid.
The varnish comes as a fruity flavoured, yellow gel and can be given to children over three.
As well as regular visits to the dentist, an effective home care routine is essential for keeping developing teeth healthy. Your dentist can offer advice about how best to maintain the health of your child’s teeth between appointments. You should start to clean teeth as soon as they appear and continue this as children get older, with supervised brushing twice a day. Flossing can also be introduced when teeth start to touch each other.
As well as cleaning teeth, you should also pay attention to your child’s diet, making sure they don’t consume too much sugary food and drink.