Chances are that over recent months and years, you’ve come across any number of damning reports regarding the oral health of the nation’s kids. Tales of tens of thousands of unnecessary tooth extractions, a plague of rotten teeth and the kind or oral health crisis today’s dentists have never before seen.
Unfortunately, this is one of comparatively few sensationalist stories that actually holds a lot of truth. There really is something of a crisis going on right now with kids’ teeth and – just as dentists continue to state – the vast majority is entirely preventable.
But why is it that in an age of such extensive education and information, these kinds of problems continue to happen?
The short answer – our collective dietary habits have never been worse. Even though we know the consequences of poor dietary choices and those of our kids, access to sugary junk has never been easier. And of course, it’s not as if any of us can keep an eye on our kids 24/7 – what they get up to when out of our supervision often doesn’t bear thinking about!
Interestingly though, evidence would seem to suggest that it isn’t simply dietary issues that are causing the crisis. While it’s true to say that all parents only want what’s best for their kids, there are far too many myths and untruths doing the rounds regarding kids’ oral health.
The more you buy into these untruths, the more damage you could be doing – albeit, unwittingly.
Which is why in the spirit of the story as it stands right now, we thought we’d visit a few of these myths and put them to bed once and for all. So if you’ve ever read into any of the following, now is definitely the time to reconsider:
Myth 1: Baby teeth don’t matter because they’ll fall out eventually
First and foremost, it’s surprisingly common (and quite understandable) to assume that baby teeth really don’t matter, given the fact that they will fall out soon enough anyway. In reality, this simply isn’t the case at all. Unhealthy baby teeth can be uncomfortable, painful and make life difficult for your child. If baby teeth fall out too early, it can increase the likelihood of adult teeth growing in crooked. Whichever way you look at it therefore, baby teeth matter – a lot. So too does overall oral health and hygiene, for obvious reasons.
Myth 2: Children don’t need to see a dentist unless there’s a problem
Again, given that it is often assumed that milk teeth aren’t particularly important, many parents assume that dentists only need to be consulted if there is a problem. Damaged or even absent baby teeth rarely constitute a particular emergency in the eyes of many parents. As far as dentists are concerned however, every child should undergo a full examination at around the time of their first birthday, or when their first tooth comes in. The reason being that even at this early stage, a dentist can check for any problems that may occur further down the line. The earlier impending problems are detected, the quicker and easier they can be treated or prevented.
Myth 3: When it comes to toothpaste, more is better
The fact that this is untrue as far as adults are concerned should make it pretty easy to figure out that the same applies to children, too. The only reason vast amounts of toothpaste are used on commercials is to fool you into using more than you need and ultimately buying more than you need. As a rule of thumb, children under three should be provided with an amount of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. After this, the quantity should be increased to no more than a relatively small pea. Along with avoiding unnecessary waste, less toothpaste also means a lower likelihood of fluoride being swallowed by the child in question.
Don’t let the toothpaste commercials fool you: you don’t need a lot of toothpaste to effectively clean your child’s teeth. Before any teeth come in, wipe their gums with a moistened washcloth or gauze. Until they are three years old, use only a smear of toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice on a child-sized toothbrush. From ages three to six, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used. And, most importantly, don’t forget to monitor and assist in toothbrushing until your child is capable of doing it on their own!
Myth 4: Kids don’t really need mouthwash
There’s a reason why many of the world’s leading dental healthcare brands also produce high-quality mouthwashes for children. In fact, think about it carefully and you’ll soon realise that mouthwash is perhaps even more important for kids than for adults. Mouthwash is designed to help clean all those areas of the mouth that are missed when brushing and flossing. Regardless of whether you or your child take control of brushing their teeth, it’s inevitable that quite a few areas of their mouth will be missed during the process. Even if you go ahead and get busy with the floss, there are still difficult corners and crevices only mouthwash can reach.
Myth 5: Kids are fine to use adult products
Again, there’s a reason why so many kid-focused dental health and hygiene products exist. If you really want to do what’s best for your kids, arm yourself with the very best toothpaste and mouthwash designed for children, recommended by dentists. These kinds of products are specially formulated with the oral health and hygiene of kids in mind, in order to both get the job done and look after their health and wellbeing.
Myth 6: Fluoridated water is unsafe for children
Last but not least, this particularly harmful myth has been doing the rounds for far too long and really needs to disappear for good. After the most extensive studies imaginable in countless countries worldwide, it has been proven time and time again that fluoridated water is 100% safe for kids. In fact, fluoridated water provides any number of health benefits that go over and above water with no fluoride content. Whatever you hear or read regarding the dangers of fluoridated water, you can rest assured that science says something completely different.