Early check-ups are key to healthy teeth in children
Most of us can relate to the fear of a trip to the dentist: the grind of the drill, the harsh light and the nasty taste of the mouthwash. For children, that fear can be even more pressing, with little or no understanding of the treatments involved.
What steps can be taken to encourage children to look after their teeth?
The good news is that there are steps you can take at home to help your child look after their teeth and gums, says Dr Kathrine Trelles, of the Dubai-based Dr Akel’s Clinic.
“The best thing you can do is encourage children to make dental care a part of everyday life as soon as you can. This means twice-daily brushing and daily flossing, as well as regular check-ups.
“Starting early is one of the smartest things parents can do as children who visit the dentist in their early years begin to view appointments as routine.
“In addition, this also helps make sure that problem teeth don't develop -- and that avoids painful, invasive procedures. It's a lot easier to prevent any problems than to cure them.
Trelles recommends parents begin dental hygiene as soon as tiny white lumps appear beneath their child’s gums. “Use a baby toothbrush with a rubber head, which can be rubbed against the emerging tooth.
“Gentle stimulation helps speed up the teething process and once the teeth come through, it will be easier to give them a gentle brush, as your baby will already be used to having her teeth cleaned.”
When the child is a little older, Trelles recommends switching to one of the new dual-purpose brushes, such as the Aquafresh Flex Tooth & Tongue Brush. The brush combines X-Active plaque cleaning bristles on the front of the toothbrush head with innovative, rubber, tongue cleaning grooves on the reverse which help clean the tongue’s surface.
She said: “This product has been designed to be simple to use to encourage people to clean their tongue. The Tooth & Tongue effectively removes bacteria from the tongue surface which can enhance taste sensations and make the mouth feel fresher.
“Children welcome the chance to stick their tongues out at the best of times – this is one of the few occasions that we accept it!”
Before the child turns three, she recommends parents look for a paediatric dentist, or one that has an excellent track record with children. A paediatric dentist's office may offer toys, books and video games to calm children, and a good dentist will reassure the child while explaining the procedure.
"Children are very trusting when they know what's going to happen," she says.
Did you know?
Eating sweets is not a major cause of tooth decay. Nearly all food and drink contains fermentable carbohydrates (sugars and starches in cooked, baked or processed foods) which can be broken down by oral bacteria to produce acids, which can lead to tooth decay.
According to the World Health Organisation Oral Health Programme, there has been a significant decrease in tooth decay in 150 countries over the past 20 years. The WHO programme goals for the reduction of tooth decay have already been achieved in more than 90 countries.
This is mainly due to the availability of fluoride and better oral hygiene. The consumption of sugar has remained the same, or even increased, which argues the widely held belief that eating too many sweets rots your teeth.
With nearly $5 billion in sales, over ten $100 million brands and present in 130 markets, the consumer healthcare business brings an added dynamic dimension to GlaxoSmithKline.
Operating in the fiercely competitive environment of retail and consumer marketing GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare brings oral healthcare, over-the-counter medicines and nutritional healthcare products to millions of people.
Brand names such as Panadol the analgesic, Aquafresh oral hygiene products, Lucozade the nutritional and Nicorette/ Niquitin smoking cessation products are household names around the world. In one year GSK Consumer Healthcare produces - among many others - nine billion tablets to relieve stomach upsets, six billion tablets for pain relief tablets and 600 million tubes of toothpaste.
But the driving force behind GlaxoSmithKline's consumer healthcare business is science. With four dedicated consumer healthcare R&D centres and consumer healthcare regulatory affairs, the business takes scientific innovation as seriously as marketing excellence and offers leading-edge capability in both.