Ask the Dentist: Keep kids to a good toothbrushing routine in the pandemic

Lucy Stock, dentist at Gentle Dental Care in Belfast, reminds parents that a good tooth brushing regime is more important now than ever

There's even more pressure on NHS dental appointments so stay on top of cleaning your teeth
Lucy Stock

WITH almost three weeks of home schooling survived, dental practices open and team members starting to get their vaccines, things are improving in my dental world.

However, access to NHS dentistry is still challenging and this is particularly unfortunate for children whose routines have been thrown into the tumble dryer yet again.

When normal routines are disrupted, toothbrushing can be last on the list for some families just trying to get through the day. But leaving the toothbrushing to meander into the wilderness to get lost, can store up toothache and sleepless nights for the future.

Pre-pandemic, it was exceedingly frustrating to arrange a timely appointment to have a child's painful tooth extracted under general anaesthetic in hospital – it took about a year – and now waiting lists will inevitably be longer. So, anything that can be done to encourage children to toothbrush and reduce their chance of ending up crying from tooth pain is to be welcomed.

If you have a baby, start brushing from the moment the first tooth erupts to get them into a good routine. Even if the child just takes the toothbrush and chews on it in a relaxed atmosphere this is better than negotiating the stressful crying match when the child doesn't want the adult to do it.

For young children you may want to print off a free toothbrushing chart available on the internet that can be followed each day for encouragement.

For older children there are some really good apps. Brush DJ is a free music-centred award-winning app where the child can choose songs that last for two minutes and there's a buzz every 30 seconds to remind them to change sides. The child can vote for their favourite song and see if it gets into the weekly Brush DJs top five. Thankfully there are no ads, passwords or purchases.

Just for a bit of fun and to get the children involved, you may also want to check out a website called Home Tester Club where you can sign up for free toothpaste and toothbrushes if you leave your product testing feedback.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access