A regular teeth-cleaning routine is essential for good oral health. Follow these tips and you can help keep teeth decay free:
- Commence toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first primary (milk) tooth breaks through
- For children with ectodermal dysplasia, it is recommended to use a rice grain-sized amount of toothpaste containing fluoride (ideally minimum concentration of 1450ppm, this is shown on the back of toothpaste packaging) as soon as teeth erupt. Please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fluoride/ for more information regarding fluoride
- Brush at night before bed and at one other time during the day
- Don’t rinse the mouth out after brushing as this will wash the toothpaste fluoride away
- Only give milk or water to drink between meals
- Do not allow baby to sleep with a bottle of milk in the mouth
- Discontinue bottle use, moving to open or “sippy” cup around age 1
- Give three main meals and two snacks per day once established on solids
- Access primary dental care regularly.
Taking your child to the dentist
- NHS dental care for children up to the age of 18 is free
- Take your child to the dentist around the age of 6 months so they become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist and the room
- The dentist can advise on how to prevent tooth decay and identify any oral health problems at an early stage
- Allow the dentist to look in your child’s mouth so they become used to this process
- Let your child sit on your lap in the dentist’s chair if they will be happier
- Make the trip fun, be positive, laugh with the dentist and be relaxed. This will stop your child worrying about future visits
- Dental check-ups should be every three to six months, according to your child’s needs
Fluoride varnish and fissure sealants
Fluoride varnish can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth. It involves painting a varnish on the surfaces of the teeth every 3 or 6 months to prevent decay. It works by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay, and can be useful to slow down decay if it is caught at the very earliest stages.
Fissure sealants can be used to protect vulnerable pits and grooves in primary/baby and permanent/adult teeth. These come in two types and your child’s dentist will help decide which is best for your child and their teeth. The sealant can last a long time but needs to be checked and repaired regularly to ensure it doesn’t break down.
So how do you put the dentures in?
For full upper dentures, put the top dentures in your mouth, place your thumb on the roof of the dentures, push up, suck and swallow, and this should create a suction.
The lower dentures are much easier and just need pushing down into place using two fingers on either side. However, they are held in place using facial muscles rather than suction which takes a little more practice. There may be complaints of a sore face, this is usually just the muscles aching as they adapt to the new denture and will pass after a couple of days. Dentures can rub on the gums and create sore areas (see next section).
Where some teeth remain partial dentures may be used, and your dentist will explain how to insert and remove them.
Cleaning dentures regularly prevents debris accumulating on the surfaces which is unpleasant and can lead to gum infections and, if a partial denture is being used, decay in the remaining teeth. This is best done using a soft brush, warm water and washing up liquid or liquid soap for dishes or non-scented hand soap (not toothpaste), then keep them in a box with a little cold water overnight. If stains are troublesome then most chemists sell proprietary cleansers. You can buy colourful boxes to keep the dentures in – go to Easyfundraising and then Amazon and type in Orthodontic retainer box; they only cost about £3.00.
Remember to fill the sink with water when cleaning dentures in case you accidentally drop them as they can break.
Do not let dentures dry out or they will warp; similarly, do not put them in hot water or a microwave oven!
How do you get your child to wear the dentures?
A little bribery can help. Offer a little treat if your child can
- keep the dentures in for 15 minutes, then increase the time
- drink through a straw with the dentures in
- drink from a cup/glass with the dentures in
- eat something soft with the dentures in
Tell them you cannot understand what they’re saying without their teeth to encourage them to use the dentures.
Ask an adult, such as a grandparent who uses dentures, to talk and help your child throughout the process. They can help teach them. Also, the child will feel better with someone they know is also wearing them.
Don’t give in. It’s important to give the child a rest, but encourage them several times a day – they will soon forget they have them in!
Remember children grow, but dentures don’t. New sets are usually needed every one to three years, depending on how much they have grown. Don’t be afraid to make several trips to the dentist. They need to fit right!
New dentures may rub a little, it is important to listen to your child if they say they hurt; take them to the local dentist or back to the dental hospital straightaway to have the denture adjusted where it is rubbing. Please do not attempt modification at home! You are likely to need a minimum of three adjustments to get them to be comfortable.