We hear a great deal about how much damage can be caused by diseases of the mouth, and how important regular visits to the dentist are in order to make sure that any potential problems are spotted early and treated appropriately.
But for the vast majority of the time the welfare of a person’s teeth and gums is down to good old fashioned oral hygiene and diet, and when that person is only a child, the risks are multiplied.
It can be extremely challenging for parents who have to work out what the best balance is, and what’s right for their children. With different toothbrushes aimed at different ages of child, with toothpastes as varied as the colours of sweets, and with many children having a combination of both adult and milk teeth, which apparently demand different treatments, it can be a nightmare.
Challenging Times For Parents
Many parents admitted that mornings are such a rush that brushing teeth is one of the first things to be skipped, along with breakfast.
At night it is very often the case that children will either be instructed to go to the bathroom, or just sent up to get ready for bed, but parents very rarely check to make sure that teeth are being cleaned, or that the child is brushing their teeth properly.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way trying to blame parents at all. I’m a parent myself, and I know the challenges, and I’ve been there myself with respect to rushed mornings and stressful nighttimes. But perhaps as dentists we should focus a little more on trying to offer support and advice to parents.
The Confusing Array Of Dental Choices
One glance at the toothbrush and toothpaste shelf in my local superstore and it is enough to alarm even me. Which toothpaste is right for me? Let alone each of my children at various stages of teething, losing their teeth and growing new ones.
We know that children’s oral hygiene makes a huge difference to their long term dental care, and that damage and bad habits early on very often set the tone for their adult lives, it’s a crucial time to make sure children understand the importance of good oral hygiene.
With the sweets, chocolates and fizzy drinks on offer left right and centre children’s teeth are under even greater attack than they were back when I was a child, which means that the combination of more risks, less time, more choice and more stress all adds up to a recipe for disaster as far as children’s dental health is concerned.
Concerns Regarding The Messages Dentists Are Giving
I know I’m far from being alone in suspecting that over the next fifteen to twenty years we will continue to see a significant increase in the number of treatments necessary to repair or replace teeth which have been damaged or lost due to poor dental hygiene.
Yet in an age when we have outstanding treatments available it seems ironic that as a nation our teeth are getting worse.
I worry as well that the impression people are getting is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t look after your teeth – just have veneers or implants and you never need to worry.
As we advertise these treatments, along with things such as teeth whitening, I wonder whether the message children are getting is the right one?
I’d be interested in hearing your views please. Am I alone in having these concerns, or do others share my feeling that we are in danger of giving young people the wrong messages?