4 useful ways to help look after children’s dental health in lockdown

It’s now been over a year since the pandemic first emerged, making life more difficult in countless ways for parents ever since. A common effect has been the breakdown of daily routines, including eating and sleeping habits, and that’s started to have a knock-on effect on the dental health of both children and adults. Now, we know that monitoring your children’s dental health can be a challenge enough in itself at the best of times, and especially so if you’re juggling the twin challenges of homeschooling and working from home. So here at AP Smilecare, we’ve had a whip round the dental clinic to come up with some of the best ways to make that job easier!

Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste

Yes, we know – it seems so obvious as to be almost not worth saying! But personally we still think it’s really important to reiterate, because one of the biggest effects that the pandemic has had on so many of our lives is a simple breakdown in routine, in everything from sleeping patterns to diets to yes, brushing our teeth. That can have particularly big effects on children, whose teeth are still developing and can be more vulnerable than those of adults.

For that reason alone, it’s worth putting the effort in to try and stick to your normal daytime structure as much as you can, especially your morning and evening routines. Ensuring that your children brush their teeth once in the mornings and once in the evenings can help you all maintain that sense of structure, which is not just beneficial for your teeth, but can be beneficial for your mental health too. Don’t forget to ensure that your children are using fluoride toothpaste, as it helps to prevent cavities and strengthen weak spots.

Suggest healthy alternatives for snacks

Snacking has always been a very pivotal issue when it comes to children’s dental health, and it’s become all the more crucial since the recent lockdowns. There was an estimated 25% to 30% rise in the consumption of fizzy drinks alone in the first lockdown, and there’s been similar rises in the consumption of other treats and confectionery. It’s not hard to see why – let’s be honest, there’s a very common attitude that treats can keep children quiet for at least a bit, which makes them worth their weight in gold when so many parents are adjusting to suddenly working from home!

But the sugary and acidic nature of these treats, combined with the common ‘grazing’ style of eating that many children have during the day, ultimately means that the pH in the mouth struggles to rise above seven. That results in the mouth remaining acidic, ultimately causing tooth decay.

To avoid this, try and discourage your children from snacking too frequently throughout the day (easier said than done, we know!). And when the mood does strike them, there are plenty of healthier alternatives that can strike that same sweet chord. The NHS has lots of good suggestions, including watermelon fruit lollies, grilled tinned pineapple, and fruit kebabs. Carrot and celery sticks are also classic favourites!

swapping sugar for fruit

Try and focus on the positives

As adults, we’re used to being warned about the risks of not looking after our teeth, such as the effects of dead roots and gum disease. However, while that normally does a good job of motivating adults, not every child responds well to that approach. Instead, it’s better to talk about the positives of what happens if they do look after their dental health, rather than the dangers of what might happen if they don’t.

You could talk about how happy and healthy their smile looks, and how important it is to keep it looking that way. Or if you’d like, you could talk about how dental health affects overall wellbeing, and how it will help them continue growing strong and healthy. Above all, children will look after their own teeth better if they’re motivated to do so for the sake of their own health, rather than simply because they’ve been told to by their parents. And don’t forget, children take a lot of cues from their parents, so if they see you making an effort to take care of your teeth, they’re more likely to do the same!

Stick to regular dental appointments

Like everyone else, we’ve had to change the way we’re working throughout the current lockdown here at AP Smilecare – but we’re still here, and we’ve not gone anywhere!

Right now, we’re still open for:

We’re still running virtual assessments for children here at AP Smilecare, so that we can continue to help you look after your children’s dental health. We know it can be easy to let normal commitments slip with everything that’s going on, but dental appointments can help keep you informed about the condition of your children’s teeth, while helping us to spot any developing issues early. If you’ve got any questions, or you’d like to book an appointment, just give us a call on 01254 297 000!