Larkhall Dental Rooms regularly receive emails from anxious parents asking how best to look after their children’s teeth. Here they answer some common questions on children’s oral hygiene.

When can my children be left to brush their teeth by themselves?
You should still be supervising their brushing until they are at least 7 years old. This should be done last thing at night and on at least one other occasion. They should spit but not rinse out.

Do my children have to use children’s toothpaste?
Flouride toothpaste is best. Its concentration is measured in parts per million (ppmF). To get the best benefit, children under 3 should use a smear of toothpaste with 1,000 ppmF, while everyone else needs 1,450ppmF. 3-7 year olds should use a pea sized amount and anyone older a ribbon of paste along the brush.

When should I take my child for his or her first dental appointment?
You should take children to the dentist when their first tooth erupts, usually at about six months, and then on a regular basis.

How often should I bring my child to the dentist?
It is recommended children visit a dentist once or twice a year even if their mouth is in excellent condition. This ensures that any potential problems are identified early.

Should my child be using mouthwash?
A smear of fluoride toothpaste and careful brushing for two minutes is all that is needed to protect their teeth. Encourage them to spit the toothpaste out but then not to rinse with water or mouthwash.

What are fissure sealants?
Sealants are a safe and painless way to protect your teeth from decay. A plastic coating is applied to the biting surface of your back teeth to form a hard shield which prevents food and bacteria from getting into the tiny groves.

What is tooth decay or ‘dental caries’?
Tooth decay occurs when acid within the mouth attacks the enamel and dentine of the teeth causing holes or cavities to form. The acid is produced by bacteria that is found within the plaque, creating a sticky and thin film that repeatedly forms over the teeth.

Why does sugar cause dental decay?
Bacteria within the plaque uses the sugar as energy and then releases acid as a waste product, which gradually dissolves the enamel of the teeth. As such, when consumed as sticky food both during and between meals, sugar increases the risk of tooth decay.

How to reduce tooth decay?
Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day and floss daily. In addition, reduce the amount of sugar that you eat and avoid snacking on sweet treats between meals.

For more expert help on dental hygiene, contact the team at the Larkhall Dental Room on email hidden; JavaScript is required and 01225 431231