February is Children’s Oral Health Month

Between the torturous months with Oscar teething and the pure excitement when Olivia’s teeth began to fall out, it’s seems teeth have been very much the focal point in our lives lately. Now more than ever I’ve been reminded that there’s much more to teeth than just cleaning them. Speaking of cleaning, did you know that February is Oral Health Month? Me neither. I came across oral health expert Eileen McGlinchey aka Smiley Eileey last year through social media. She stocks all sorts of teeth related products for children on her website and Eileen also provides fun, interactive and educational oral health workshops in schools and centres across Ireland. I contacted Eileen recently with a few questions I wanted an expert answer to (not realising it was oral health month) I’m one of those annoying mammy’s that wants to know if they’re doing things correctly. Some of her answers really surprised me and they have made me re-evaluate certain techniques with my two. I’m what you’d call a “basic brusher” an electric toothbrush is as technical as we get in our house. Here are the 8  questions I asked Eileen and her response…
  1. What age should you start brushing babies teeth? You should start brushing the minute a tooth appears. You can also begin before this by using dental wipes which keep the babies gums clean and free from bacteria which can cause smelly breath when baby is teething.
  2. Do you need to use toothpaste? You don’t have to use toothpaste for little babies. Using water on the brush is enough until they are   at least two. If you want to use toothpaste there are many toddler toothpastes in yummy flavours available.
  3. What  age  should  children  start  to  brush  their  own  teeth? All children should be supervised until they are at least seven. Let them brush on their own as soon as they can just to get them in the correct routine and you can show them that for two minutes every morning and night so it becomes a fun time for them .
  4. Are electric toothbrushes the way to go for all ages? Yes and no. You don’t need to buy the most expensive toothbrush. If your child can use a manual toothbrush for the full 2 minutes it’s as good. Electric is good because many of them vibrate for the recommended 2 minutes and others do the round and round motion to clean teeth correctly.Another useful and not too expensive toothbrush are the Dr. Barmann 3 sided toothbrushes (brushes all 3 sides of the teeth at once) and can be seen or purchased on www.smileyeileey.ie  You should replace your child’s toothbrush 3-4 times a year as the bristles get worn and don’t do the same good job anymore.
  5. Should children floss? Yes you should floss your child’s teeth the minute two teeth meet. Intradental caries can occur if not flossing inbetween teeth. It’s also very good for their gums. This can be easily done by the use of kids dental flossers. Flavoured ones can be found on my website also.
  6. What foods/drinks should children honestly avoid? Sticky sweets and bars. Fizzy drinks are very high in sugar and fast food restaurant milkshakes (a large milkshake can contain 21 teasoons of sugar) The best time to give your child a treat is after their dinner and to eat the treat all at once is actually better for your teeth than a little bit now and a little bit later, because when we eat something sweet, there is (basically) a chemical reaction in your mouth. It takes approx. 30-40 minutes for your mouth to go from start to finish, so you don’t want to be constantly eating sugar or your mouth will never get a chance to settle down to normal ph levels.
  7. What products would you recommend for oral health in babies and children? Toothpastes with fluoride and xylithol are the best for the healthy development of your babies teeth.
  8. Oh, Do not all toothpastes have fluoride in them? No not all of them have.
  9. When should children visit the dentist for the first time? (if they have no dental issues prior to this?) It’s recommended that you bring your child to the dentist around their first birthday. This is a good idea as it gets your child familiar with the sounds and smells etc. You don’t want to wait until your child has a toothache to bring them to the dentist because they will then always associate the dentist as “that place I had awful pain”.
Great advice Eileen! Check out Eileen’s website for oral health and teething related products and if you have any other questions you want answered, Eileen will be happy to help. I’m off to teach my daughter how to floss…..
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