Home Schooling? Why Not Add Oral Health Education To The Mix
Our Epsom dentists look at the oral health care of young children during lockdown.
Good oral health care is important for all ages; from the very young to the very old. It isn’t simply a case of having nice looking teeth either; teeth and gums in poor condition can affect what we eat and also, in some cases, have an impact on our overall well-being.
At the Clock Tower Dental Clinic, we sometimes hear patients say that they wish they had known, when younger, what they know now as adults about taking care of their teeth and gums. It is fair to say that the earlier that the importance of good oral health care can be ingrained in our lives, the better.
The Coronavirus has very few plusses going for it, but one thing it has provided for many of us is more time, and specifically more time with our children. This does bring a number of challenges of course, and how it affects you might depend on your living arrangements and how many children you have. Even in challenging situations though, there will be opportunities to learn things together with your children.
In addition to reading and other school work that they might have been set, we would like to suggest that you use a few minutes each day to introduce them to the basics of looking after their teeth. This doesn’t have to be particularly technical for younger children, but grasping the basics early on will be highly beneficial as they grow older.
To help parents include this in their daily education routine with their children, our Epsom dental team have put together, in bite size chunks, a few suggestions that you might wish to consider.
Brushing teeth well is one of the fundamentals of good oral health. Instead of telling your children to ‘go brush your teeth’, take some time to do it with them. We recommend that before you do this, you watch some reputable demonstration videos on the correct way to brush your teeth. You may be surprised to find that you are doing this incorrectly, and therefore, not only your children, but you too could benefit from this. We recommend that you do this with them for a little while, supervising and making gentle corrective suggestions so that they eventually settle into good brushing habits.
Younger children especially, will often happily sit in front of the TV watching videos at times when nothing else will keep them entertained. There are many child friendly videos that explain oral health care and use cartoon characters that kids like. One good one to look for is an explanation of how sugary foods can lead to cavities. Whilst this may not stop them eating sweets altogether, it should at least make them think about it and hopefully cut down the quantity that they possibly eat currently.
If your child is worried about going to the dentist, you could add in some role playing. You could allow the child to be the dentist and you could be the patient. Make it fun for them (though obviously don’t allow any sharp instruments to be used!). You could pretend to be nervous and allow them to try to calm you down. At the very least this could help them to understand that being afraid is not embarrassing and that it happens to many people. You could then reverse the roles and suggest ways that they can keep themselves calm when in the dentist chair such as slow breathing or singing a song in their head whilst being examined.
From time to time, set them a quiz about what they have learned. This will help to refresh their memory and young children tend to enjoy quizzes. You could even offer small prizes as an incentive.
We are sure that you can come up with other suggestions too. Drawing, making up songs or poems about teeth etc can all be fun and will help to keep the kids entertained too.
As you will be aware, we are unable to treat patients at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic at the moment so please do take a little extra time to take care of your teeth and those of your children. Although we don’t yet know when we will be allowed to open again, we hope that it will not be too long.
If you currently have a dental problem, please call us on our usual number – 01372 720136. You will then be triaged and either offered advice on how to minimise any discomfort where the problem is non urgent, or, for urgent dental emergencies you will be advised what to do next.
We hope that you are all keeping safe and urge you to continue to follow governmental advice. The statistics are slowly starting to look a little better but we are not there yet. If we maintain the current discipline, we will hopefully be able to open our Epsom practice to the general public again in the not too far off future. In the meantime, please stay safe.