Establishing good dental habits is key for school starters

Establishing good dental habits is key for school starters

(22 Aug 2014)

Friday 22nd August 2014. The Irish Dental Association has urged parents of children who are starting school for the first time to make sure they follow a good dental health routine from day one.


The Association said parents should help children aged six or under to brush their teeth twice a day; once in the morning and last thing at night. Brushing should take 2 minutes.


Specialist Paediatric Dentist Dr. Rose-Marie Daly said it was also very important that children develop healthy dietary habits and reduce the frequency of consumption of confectionary and sweetened beverages including fruit juices.


“Lunch boxes can be tricky for fussy eaters. It is best to keep fillings in wraps and sandwiches savory and avoid jams and chocolate spreads. Children who have dried fruit and biscuits for lunch are more likely to develop cavities. Cheese and fruit make good snacks. Juice should be limited to one serving per day.


“Milk and water are the only safe drinks to quench thirst and parents should avoid high energy sports drinks.  Fruit juice has very high sugar content, higher than fresh fruit” she said.


Dr. Daly, who’s based in Tralee, pointed out that preventative dental care is important for people of all ages – but particularly young people – and is the key to good long term dental health. She said there were a number of steps parents could take to safeguard the dental health of their children.


“Many parents are unaware of the valuable role fissure sealants can play in protecting their children’s teeth from decay. A fissure sealant is a plastic coating which forms a shield over the chewing surface of the back teeth and helps to prevent tooth decay. Fissure sealants do need to be monitored and checked for cracks and leakage. They sometimes need top-ups.”


“The first dental visit should be scheduled by 12 months of age to allow for appropriate professional guidance on dietary habits, fluoride use, hygiene instruction and the use of soothers. This is an important time to detect early childhood decay and developmental problems. The earlier visits start the easier it is for children to become used to routine dental check-ups and this prevents anxiety.”


 “If parents haven’t already brought their children to a dentist for a checkup they should do so to check for decay and to see if fissure sealants would be useful. They should also ensure that their children have suitable mouth guards for their sports activities”


“Children’s teeth should be checked three times by the public health dentist during primary school. Due to cutbacks and a staffing embargo in the HSE this may not be happening in some schools and parents may need to remind the school about them. Parents should contact their local HSE clinic and see what their entitlements are as this varies from place to place” Dr Daly concluded.


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