As dentists we want to share our knowledge about children’s dental health to you as a parent or someone working in the preschool.
Here at sockerbiten.nu you can listen to the dentist Mona, get advice on children’s nutrition and health and how to take care of the children’s teeth.
The website has been developed with the fund that World Dental Federation, FDI and Unilever / Pepsodent has in its global partnership with dental health projects worldwide. FDI and Unilever / Pepsodents project Live Learn Laugh aims to improve the oral and general health of children.
Listen to Mona the dentist
– I’m sure you’re anxious about your child’s health and know how important it is to help brush his or her teeth. Brush your child’s teeth gently with toothpaste containing fluoride morning and evening. This will decrease the risk of your child getting cavities or other oral health problems later in life. It is important to start dealing with children’s teeth early. Perhaps you didn’t know that children with dental caries before the age of three also run a greater risk of oral health problems when they get older.
Frequent snacking is not good for the teeth and not for the rest of the body either. I’m also the mother of a small child and know how tempting it is to give my child something sweet, in order to make our moments together as positive as possible without unnecessary conflicts. But your child will pay for this in the long run. Too many sweets not only lead to cavities but can also contribute to obesity and complications later in life, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Your child will thank you later on for your persistence.
Sweets only on Saturdays is a well-tried recipe. Choose that, and give some pieces of fruit rather than a bun or cookie as a snack. Offer water when your child is thirsty. Fizzy and soft drinks are liquid sugar, and fizzy drinks can also cause dental erosion.
A part of the body
There is a link between poor dental health, obesity and their complications, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. What is bad for the teeth is bad for the rest of the body too. Incorrect food habits cause dental caries in children, as well as deficiencies in oral hygiene.
As a parent, one is given mixed messages when it comes to children and food habits and it can be difficult to evaluate the information. Food is also a loaded topic and an effective weapon for children to use in their interaction with parents. It is easy to resort to sweets, ice-cream and biscuits as bribes to get children to eat food they are not so keen on or to calm a child that is agitated and unhappy in a stressful situation.
Good habits are essential
The foundations of poor dental health and obesity are laid when children are small. Studies show that children usually adopt the family’s lifestyle early in life and that habits learned early often endure. Therefore, it is so important to teach children good food habits and dental hygiene from the start.
The consumption of sweetened foodstuffs and unhealthy food has snowballed in recent decades. Almost a quarter of the energy children consume comes from sweets, soft drinks, ice-cream, snacks and cake according to the National Food Administration’s statistics. Our modern lifestyle, with too much of both healthy and unhealthy food has negative effects on both oral and general health.
Obesity, and in particular child obesity, in society has increased dramatically. Between 14 and 23 per cent of children are overweight and 1-4 per cent obese. In certain parts of Sweden every fourth 4-year old child is overweight. A child that is overweight finds it difficult to move, becomes tired, risks harassment and may also develop diseases that are linked to obesity. Those best known include hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, damaged joints and diabetes, above all type 2-diabetes or old age diabetes that is now beginning to appear already in young people.
At the same time the National Board of Health and Welfare’s dental caries statistics show a break in the trend as regards children´s dental health – the improvement curve has become more flat. Research also shows a clear connection between early dental caries and caries in later ages. A dissertation from the Sahlgrenska Academy shows for example that if a person already has dental caries when small, there is also a greater risk that that person will have dental caries as a teenager. Infants with a high sweet consumption have more dental caries as teenagers compared with children that seldom or never eat sweets.
Dental erosion is another problem that grows with the increased consumption of soft drinks. The acid in soft drinks and other sour drinks damages the tooth enamel. Since 1980 consumption of soft drinks has increased from 40 litres per person and year to 68 litres per person in 2008.
Calculations show that there are considerable savings to be made, in both money and suffering. Total dental care costs in the economy amount to approximately SEK 20 billion per year! The costs of obesity-related diseases amount to just over SEK 3 billion per year! Even small improvements in lifestyle would have a positive effect on both the economy and individuals.
Advice to you as a parent
The National Food Administration’s website has information about good food for children:
The important between-meal snack
Milk/soured milk/yoghurt and sandwich, vegetables and fruit are good between-meal snacks, which can be easily adapted to how hungry the child is. If the child is a little hungry and it is close to dinner it is advisable to put pieces of fruit, vegetables and bread on a chopping board and let the children take from there. Avoid sweetened products.
Take into consideration that it is important to let the teeth rest for a few hours between meals.
How to care for your child’s teeth
- Begin to brush as soon as the teeth appear
- Brush the teeth carefully with fluoride toothpaste morning and evening
- Children younger than 2 years – use only a tiny bit of toothpaste and preferably children’s toothpaste with lower concentrations of fluoride
- Children aged 2-6 years – use no more toothpaste than the size of a pea
- From the age of six – use about 2 cm of adult toothpaste on the brush – give special attention to the molars
- Avoid eating between meals and sweet drinks
- Let the teeth rest between meals
- Thirsty? Give your child water to drink – both between meals and at night
- Sweets only on Saturday or Friday
You can get tips here on how to care for your children’s teeth, in English and in other languages on The medical information website.