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Oral Health Information for Parents

 

Promoting oral health in early years is essential to protecting young teeth and establishing good habits and it is now part of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework.

It is said that 25% of children under the age of 5 experience tooth decay. It is therefore important for us to support children with oral health, as their first experiences can have a great impact on the rest of their lives. By supporting them, we can teach them about their mouths, introduce them to good habits and normalise dental visits.

There are three main themes in good dental health:

  • Keep sugary and acidic food and drinks to mealtimes
  • Brush teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Visit the dentist regularly

 

Top tips for good oral health

  • Giving your child regular meals rather than grazing, is best for their teeth. The more times their teeth have food or sugary drinks on them the more decay is possible
  • Try to reduce the amount and frequency of giving your child foods and drinks that contain sugar and only give sweet foods including dried fruit at mealtimes - ask family and friends to do the same
  • You can offer healthy snack options such as fresh fruit, vegetables, plain yoghurts, cheese and bread
  • Encourage your child to have milk and water between meals as they are the most tooth friendly drinks as even fruit juice is acidic and high in sugars
  • Keep all fruit juices and squashes to mealtimes only
  • Always avoid giving your child squashes sweetened with sugar, fizzy drinks, soft drinks and juice drinks
  • It is helpful to check the label on other kinds of sugar harmful to teeth such as glucose, maltose and sucrose
  • Remember that ‘low sugar' or 'no added sugar' labels do not mean the food or drink is sugar free
  • Choose sugar-free medicines when you can
  • Dipping dummies into honey or sugary drinks can cause tooth decay
  • Introduce your child to a free-flowing beaker from 6 months of age and aim to discontinue the use of bottles at 12 months
  • Children aged under 3 should use just a smear of toothpaste
  • Children aged 3 to 6 years of age should use a pea sized amount of toothpaste

Finding a Dentist

If you unsure of your local family dentist, you can use the NHS website to find your closest one: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist

 

Dummies

It is a good idea to reduce and restrict the use of dummies as early as possible, as dummies can affect children’s speech development and cause problems with the positioning of teeth.

It can be a daunting prospect to wean your child off their dummy but here are some ideas on how to help with the process: https://www.childcare.co.uk/information/how-to-ditch-the-dummy

 

Additional resources and information

Children's teeth - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Sweets, fizzy drinks and bottles - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Sugar Swaps for Kids | Make a Swap | Change4Life (www.nhs.uk)

Brushing-Chart-and-Tips-doublesided.pdf (dentalhealthcareeoe.nhs.uk)

Childrens-Teeth-support-iHV.pdf (pacey.org.uk)