Ensuring that children have good dental hygiene is of the utmost importance for a whole number of reasons. For example, it ensures children pick up healthy dental habits early, it aids proper tooth development and can even aid speech development.
Astonishingly, it is estimated that about 42% of children aged 2 to 11 years develop tooth decay, and that an equal percentage of 6 to 19-year-olds develop it in their permanent teeth.
But why is it important to teach and maintain good dental hygiene in children? In this article, we round up the 5 main reasons.
1. Establishes Healthy Dental Habits Early
First and foremost, teaching children good oral hygiene habits from an early age helps instil a proper routine of regular dental care, and this habit will likely continue into adulthood, promoting lifelong dental health.
Starting children’s dental care early also helps them develop positive associations with oral health practices and dental visits. This is important as many children fear the dentist, especially those who don’t regularly visit them. However, by taking your child to regular dental visits from a young age, they become accustomed to the dental environment, which reduces fear or anxiety related to dental appointments. This familiarity can therefore ensure children maintain regular check-ups and seek dental care throughout their lives.
When Can Children Brush Their Own Teeth?
Typically speaking, children need help brushing their teeth until they are about 7-8 years old, as this is around the time they will have developed the skills and coordination necessary to properly brush themselves. However, parents should observe their child's brushing and technique until they are around 10 years old, incase they need additional assistance.
In the meantime, parents should encourage good oral hygiene habits by following our 5 step guide on how to brush children’s teeth, demonstrating proper technique, and supervising their brushing to ensure they are doing it properly.
2. Improves Children’s Overall Health
While it might sound obvious, dental health directly affects your child’s overall health as poor dental hygiene can lead to physical and emotional issues that affect development and growth of your child.
When it comes to physical health, a dental condition can affect children's feeding, breathing, speaking, smiling, and adapting to social situations. Poor dental health may also cause pain and discomfort, embarrassment and overall lower self-esteem, which of course no parent wants to see happen to their child.
Tooth problems can also cause increased susceptibility to illnesses, have higher rates of hospital admission, and complain of sleep disruption.
3. Aids Proper Tooth Development
Dental hygiene in children plays a crucial role in aiding proper tooth development. This is because regular dental check-ups as part of a child’s dental hygiene routine allows for early detection of any potential issues with tooth development.
Also, teaching children how to have proper dental hygiene, including a balanced diet and fluoride intake, helps the formation of strong and healthy teeth. Strong teeth are more likely to erupt correctly and resist dental issues during tooth development.
Proper oral health also ensures that baby teeth are maintained until they naturally fall out to make room for permanent teeth, and this process supports correct jaw growth and development.
Additionally, regular and proper brushing will help remove food particles and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay in children. Tooth decay can negatively impact a child’s tooth development and potentially cause the premature loss of baby teeth, which in turn can disrupt the natural order of permanent teeth eruption.
This brings us nicely onto our 4th point…
4. Prevents Tooth Decay & Gum Disease
Tooth decay and gum disease are largely preventable yet they remain a serious problem amongst children. In fact, PHE data shows that in 2015, a quarter of 5-year-olds experienced tooth decay in England, and the vast majority were left untreated.
The best way to prevent gum disease and tooth decay is regular brushing and flossing, as this helps to remove plaque - a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth when left. Plaque contains harmful bacteria that can erode tooth enamel and irritate gums, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
It’s also important that children use fluoride toothpaste (in appropriate amounts based on the child’s age), as this strengthens tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria.
A good dental routine and regular dental appointments to assess children’s teeth also helps detect many other health conditions like vitamin deficiencies, tooth grinding and acid reflux. These early findings allow for the prevention and correction of tooth decay.
5. Is Cost-Effective in the Long Run
As with everything in life, prevention is better than cure, and that is especially true when it comes to children’s dental hygiene.
Maintaining good oral hygiene from an early age can save parents (and children when they grow up) from significant dental expenses in the long run. This is because preventive care is much more cost-effective than treating dental problems that may escalate if left unattended.
For example, maintaining good oral hygiene helps prevent tooth loss that might occur from decay or gum disease. The cost of replacing missing teeth with dental implants, bridges, or dentures can be significant.
And there we have it! We hope this article has helped your understanding of the importance of dental hygiene for children. And if you're looking to purchase child-friendly (& eco-friendly) dental care products, check out our zero-waste toothbrushes and toothpaste tablets.
Brush Fresh Co. is founded and run by a group of UK-based dentists, who specialise in environmentally-friendly and sustainable dental products. From biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes to zero waste toothbrush tablets, our product range has been designed to put both your dental health and the environment first.
Written by Kate, for Brush Fresh Co.