Fluoride toothpaste and water fluoridisation has had a significant effect on reducing the levels of decay in the UK, explains principal dentist Malcolm Harbour from Harbour Dental Care in Ipswich High Street. But research carried out every ten years in the Child Dental Health Survey showed that in 2013 there were obvious levels of decay in 31% of 5 year olds, 34% of 12 year olds and 46% of 15 year olds.
It is clear from these statistics that our teenagers need extra help and encouragement when it comes to looking after their teeth. But what can parents in Suffolk do when their children hit that notoriously difficult age?
Learning by example
Instilling good dental health habits in our children from an early age should certainly help make brushing their teeth twice a day seem like second nature. If they have always done this, the idea is that they will carry on, so start while they are still young!
At this stage in their lives, teenagers start to care more than ever about their appearance. Having discoloured teeth was the biggest reason (33%) given in a recent survey for people feeling self-conscious about their smile.
There’s nothing more attractive than strong, healthy teeth and regular visits to a dentist will help ensure their teeth stay this way. Encouraging visits to a hygienist for a thorough clean and polish to bring back a natural sparkle to their teeth may help your teen feel proud of their smile once again – and they may be more inclined to look after it.
Paying for their own dental care
Cajoling and carefully worded suggestions work as well for toddlers as they do for teenagers. Mentioning that they will have to pay for their own dental care once they turn 18 (or 19 if they are in full time education) might just kick start regular tooth brushing! Explain that the easiest, most effective – and cheapest – way to keep their teeth and gums looking great is to brush for two minutes twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
Chewing sugar-free gum
Chewing sugar-free gum after eating and drinking is a convenient way of looking after our dental health. It washes away food debris, helps to neutralises damaging plaque acids and re-mineralises tooth enamel by stimulating the flow of saliva which helps protect teeth.
The door to our Ipswich dental practice is always open to new patients, even teenagers! We offer NHS care for children until their 18th birthday (or 19th if they are in full time education). Please contact our friendly team for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.