Children, like adults, should be brushing their teeth twice a day right from when the very first milk teeth make an appearance. Although they will need help to begin with, establishing a good brushing routine is setting young children up with a good dental hygiene routine from a young age, and will help ensure their teeth and gums remain healthy.
According to recent research undertaken by StemProtect.co.uk, this isn’t happening, with findings suggesting that less than one-third of children are in fact brushing their teeth regularly enough. Dentists are worried that this pattern means a generation of young people could be exposing themselves to a heightened risk of dental problems later in life.
The research study involved 600 families in the UK, and indicates that there are big gaps in the regularity that young children are brushing their teeth:
- Proportion of 2 to 4-year olds who brush their teeth once per day – 60%
- Proportion of 4 to 8-year olds who brush their teeth once per day – 70%
This is exacerbated by an alarming number of parents who claimed not to know how long their children were brushing their teeth for – with around eight in ten parents unaware how long their children were spending brushing their teeth. Here at CD Dental, we advocate using a timer for this, and ensuring that children use this as part of the fun of brushing their teeth. The timer could be set to music, or there are a number of apps that can be downloaded for free that give children an indication of how long to brush for.
According to the study, only 3% of parents were using a timer, and this is one of the easiest ways to ensure you have confidence in the duration children are brushing for. Depending on what resonates with your children, there are other creative techniques available too, such as reward charts and a bit of gentle bribery… although using treats like stories as the rewards, not sweets or chocolate.
A spokesperson for StemProtect, Anne Edwards, summarised the concern that this report has raised: “Younger children tend to be more resistant to tooth brushing, but caring for your teeth is a lifelong job. Not brushing regularly can lead to gum disease, which has been proven to have a number of serious health risks associated, including cardiovascular disease. Parents may think their children will look after their own oral hygiene once they’re old enough to brush, but it’s not worth leaving to chance.”