Big smiles for National Smile Month 2021
A healthy smile starts early on
National Smile Month is taking place at the moment and runs until the 17th June. It is a big awareness campaign from the Oral Health Foundation to get us all looking after our teeth and thinking about good oral health…that includes little ones too! So whilst it’s useful for us all to think a little more carefully about what we can do to improve our own oral health, as parents, we have the responsibility to care for our baby’s teeth as well. This starts the minute they come though as baby teeth.
Whilst baby teeth will eventually fall out they have many important functions such as; eating different foods, smiling, maintaining space for guiding adult teeth into position as well as speech development. Unfortunately, tooth decay in children is fairly common, yet preventable. One survey in England found by the age of 3, 12% of children had some signs of cavities.
As parents we have to make healthy choices for our babies to give them the best start in life…that’s the reason our founder, Sara Keel, developed a little open cup that’s kind to teeth, Babycup First Cups. Nothing like it existed before and now it has the seal of approval from the Oral Health Foundation – we are Oral Health Foundation accredited!
There is a lot of marketing confusion out there which parents have to navigate around in order to make everyday healthy decisions for their babies: Food or drink labels might say ‘good source of calcium’, but read the small print and there might be a high level of sugar lurking there too; ‘Sucky’ cups marketed as sippy cups, when there’s nothing sippy about them. We’ve try to make things simpler for you with some top tips from experts to start your baby off on their healthy dental journey…
Top tips for healthy baby teeth
Brushing twice a day (with a fluoridated toothpaste) – simple but effective. Not always easy with little ones but being consistent, making it fun and building it into the daily routine from when they are young really helps.
An ‘awareness’ of sugars – obviously we do enjoy sweeter foods but in moderation and only at main mealtimes. Frequent snacking means the mouth has less time to recover so try to limit grazing and encourage family meals. And then for drinks it’s just water, water, water & milk.
Visiting the dentist – Regular check-ups. It’s important not just for assessment and advice but also to acclimatise your baby to the surgery environment and build confidence. Your baby can watch you sit in the chair and have your teeth counted as a form of role modelling, and of course there’s always a sticker!
Be a sipper not a sucker – That goes for food and for drinks. Food pouches are useful for carrying or storing foods but when it comes to eating their contents avoid being a sucker and instead empty them into a bowl or onto a plate. Using a spoon to self-feed develops fine motor skills
When it comes to drinks so many ‘cups’ are really bottles in disguise. Go for the real deal and get sipping with an open cup. With a cup that’s the right size for your baby you’ll help make sipping a success for your little one.
So it’s big smiles for National Smile Month!
With thanks to our experts for contributing their tips
Dr Jemma Hook aka The Mummy Dentist is a mum and a dentist, cutting through the clutter and giving real life guidance with the reassurance of expert knowledge and firsthand experience. (A pretty awesome combo)! Follow Jemma on Instagram @themummydentist for info and advice on caring for children’s teeth plus love and laughter aplenty!
Sara Keel is a mum and the founder of Babycup, as well as a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood.