Dental Advice for Kids

We have gathered some frequently asked questions that patients have asked us over the years and listed them below. Should you require further information please get in touch.

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FAQs - Dental Advice for Children

My child’s permanent teeth seem to be a lot yellower than their first teeth. Is this a problem?

No, permanent teeth are a lot larger and harder than primary teeth. The enamel or outer layer of the teeth is more translucent so the underlying colour shines through to a greater degree. They often look worse in comparison to the remaining primary teeth, but when all the adult teeth have erupted your child’s teeth will look pleasantly white if kept clean.

My child’s first permanent teeth seem to be coming through quite crooked. Should I be concerned?

Not initially. Front teeth often erupt at funny angles and the muscle forces of the tongue and lips usually pull them into the right place over a period of three months. However if the parents have crowded teeth, it may be that the child’s teeth will be sufficiently crowded to prevent the teeth lining up naturally. In these cases orthodontic tooth movement can be achieved. Normally we wait until all the permanent teeth have erupted (about the age of 12) before starting orthodontic treatment, but it would be worth us having a look to assess your child’s treatment needs, if you are concerned.

My child seems to get a lot of mouth ulcers. What can I do?

Some ulcers are caused by trauma, but recurrent ulcers affect one in six teenagers, and we don’t really know what causes them. They do seem to be linked to stress, and certain foodstuffs, and can be very painful for three or four days. They take about a fortnight to heal completely. We treat the symptoms by use of various mouthwashes or sprays which kill the pain and inflammation. Often it’s a case of finding one that works well for your child. Unfortunately for most teenagers the foods which exacerbate mouth ulcers are crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks, so they’d do well to avoid these.

Are fizzy drinks really bad news for my child’s teeth?

Yes they are. All fizzy drinks are essentially carbonic acid which erodes tooth enamel. Most of them are high in sugars and some of the cola drinks also have phosphoric acid as a flavouring which we use to etch teeth for bonding on fillings! We see an increasing number of children who have eroded large amounts of enamel from their adult teeth by their late teens, and require complex and expensive dentistry to correct the results of frequently consuming fizzy drinks.

Is fluoride good for my child’s teeth?

We have seen a huge decrease in the amount of dental decay in children since the advent of fluoride toothpastes. Fluoride strengthens the surface of tooth enamel making it less prone to decay. For most children, using about a pea-sized blob of toothpaste to brush their teeth gives them as much fluoride as they need to protect their teeth without overdosing them. Fluoride is not added to the water in this area, and so your dentist may advise fluoride supplements if your child develops a high degree of decay.

At what age should I let my child clean their teeth?

Most children don’t really have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth properly until about the age of seven or eight, so we’d advise giving them a hand at least once a day to ensure the teeth are brushed properly. Our hygienist is happy to show you and your child the most effective way of brushing their teeth. Alternatively we have leaflets available if you require further advice on caring for your child’s teeth.

I’ve heard that chocolate is not as harmful to my child’s teeth as toffee. Is this true?

I can give you a definite maybe!. Generally speaking, the longer sugar remains in the mouth, the longer the teeth will be at risk from the acids that plaque turns the sugar into. It takes about an hour for saliva to wash the acids away from the teeth, so sticky sweets will prolong that time, and the consequent damage. We’d always recommend restricting food, drinks, snacks and sweets to mealtimes to reduce the acid attacks on your child’s teeth.

Should my child have fissure sealing?

At Smiles Better we try and minimise the treatment needs of our patients and so would not automatically recommend sealing the fissures in the biting surfaces of your child’s teeth against decay. For children with no history of decay it’s probably not necessary. However if children have suffered decay in their primary teeth, it is a good idea to protect their adult molar teeth as soon as they erupt. Children who have had fissure sealants bonded to their molar teeth should definitely avoid toffees and Chewits as they may debond the sealants – an expensive sweet!

Should my child wear a gum shield?

Yes. We have seen children who have lost or broken teeth whilst engaging in all manner of contact sports. The pain and disfigurement are just not worth it. You can buy mouldable gum shields from sports shops for less than £10.00, but if you want the best for your child we can provide custom-made gum shields in all varieties of colours and designs. Contact us for more details.

My child never eats sweets or fizzy drinks but still gets a lot of decay. Why is this?

Your child has a form of decay unknown to dental science. We’d probably suggest keeping a diet sheet for a week or so, just to check that they really aren’t consuming foods which are bad for their teeth.