Brush up on your child's dental care

01 Nov 2018

Brush up on your child's dental care

In parts of New Zealand, poor dental care is the main reason children have to go to hospital.

Dental care is free for New Zealand children.

It’s shocking, but both these sentences are true. We all know that taking care of our teeth and gums helps prevent tooth decay, mouth disease and bad breath. But did you know that NOT taking care of your teeth increases your risk of major problems like heart disease, diabetes and even early labour when pregnant? In some cases, the lack of dental care is so bad that children need to go to hospital. Taking care of our children’s teeth is a vital part of keeping them healthy and free of tooth pain. 

Every day, a film of bacteria grows on our teeth. This is called plaque. It produces acid, which eats away at teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing removes much of this and so helps keep your mouth protected and healthy, so it is very important to brush teeth twice each day. As well as cleaning at home, teeth need regular visits to the dentist to ensure a deep and thorough clean of the sticky plaque, and for early identification and treatment of any problems. Children and adults should aim to see a dentist every six months.

When should my children start? 

Your baby will start getting teeth at a few months old. Baby-teeth have an important role in helping your child to speak and eat properly, and acting as placeholders for adult teeth.

Healthy baby-teeth often mean healthy adult teeth, so as soon as they start to show, start brushing! Use a small, soft brush and a rice-grain size of fluoride toothpaste. Increase that to the size of a pea around age 6. Gently brush teeth and gums twice a day, in the morning and before bed. Your child should see a dentist every year.

If your older child has not seen a dentist yet, enroll now. You need to be responsible for your child’s dental hygiene until he or she is old enough to do it properly themselves - around age 8. But even then, keep checking in - tooth care is for life. Enrol your child for free dental care, or make a free dental appointment by calling 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583).

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