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I’m a dentist – the 10 habits which are RUINING your kids’ teeth and why raisins are worse than sweets

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TOOTH decay is the leading cause for kids aged six to ten going to hospital.

And an increasing number of younger children are having baby teeth filled or removed.

In England, more than 42,000 were extracted from under-19s in 2021-22, costing the NHS a whopping £81million.

And with limited access to dentists, looking after your mouth at home is more crucial than ever.

Dr Sam Jethwa, of Bespoke Smile, says: “It’s really important your child maintains good oral hygiene, even if they still have their milk teeth.”

Here he gives Lynsey Clarke his top tips for preventing a dental disaster.

MILK TEETH MATTER

“A LOT of people assume that because milk teeth are not permanent, they don’t require as much care,” says Dr Jethwa.

“But not taking care of them can lead to tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.”

Start brushing as soon as teeth come through, usually at around six months.

TURN TOOTH CARE INTO A TRIAL

SAND timers have added a sense of excitement to challenges in the I’m A Celeb jungle — but they’re handy when brushing teeth, too.

Dr Jethwa says: “Use a timer and make it a game.

“Or play a song that lasts two minutes. Get kids to brush in front of a mirror so they see where they’re brushing.”

LEAVE POSH PASTES ON THE SHELF

SOME expensive toothpastes don’t contain fluoride, which protects teeth.

“Fluoride has been extensively researched in terms of how it strengthens tooth enamel and reverses tooth decay,” Dr Jethwa explains.

The NHS recommends kids up to six use a children’s fluoride toothpaste containing no less than 1,000ppm of fluoride.

DON’T BREAK THE 3-5 SECOND RULE

“YOUR child’s toothbrush should clean one tooth at a time for three to five seconds, with the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle,” Dr Jethwa says.

“Once they have brushed the outside surface of the tooth, repeat from the inside of the mouth.

“People don’t realise how important it is to brush their teeth from the inside.”

SPIT, DON’T RINSE

“YOUR child should spit afterwards as you do not want to wash away fluoride,” says Dr Jethwa.

But rinse with water after snacking to remove bacteria left on the teeth.

He adds: “This is not to replace brushing, but it can help maintain good oral hygiene.”

‘RAISINS ARE WORSE FOR TEETH THAN SWEETS’

“DRIED fruit such as raisins not only has a high sugar content, but is very sticky and contains less water than fresh fruit, so it stays in your mouth for longer, increasing the risk of decay and cavities,” Dr Jethwa says.

“Some research has suggested raisins can be more harmful for teeth than pure sugar.”

Of course, any food and drinks that are high in sugar are not recommended.

BE WARY OF THE WHITE STUFF

LOTS of parents fall into the trap of giving their kids milk before bed.

“It’s fine for your child to have milk, but they need to brush afterwards,” says Dr Jethwa.

“Sometimes the milk left in the mouth can turn into sugars and, if left on the teeth, this can lead to cavities.”

This rule goes whether it’s cow, formula or breast milk.

GET A GRIP, GO WIDE

KIDS’ miniature mitts can make brushing a challenge.

“A wide handle will help them get a better grip,” says Dr Jethwa.

“Make sure the brush has soft bristles, as they will be gentle on teeth, but still effective at cleaning.

“A silicone brush can be good as they are gentle.

“From age six, kids can use one with a slim handle, but the head should still be small with soft bristles.”

BE SURE TO BRUSH BEFORE BREAKFAST

“ALWAYS brush before breakfast,” Dr Jethwa says.

“I tell people to think of it as eating on clean teeth.

“Overnight, both plaque and bacteria form, so the first thing to do is brush our teeth so we don’t add to the bacterial load.

“You should also wait 30 minutes after eating before brushing as this avoids brushing acids from food around the teeth, which may cause tooth wear and sensitivity.”

CARBS CAN GIVE YOU CAVITIES

SPUDS and bread don’t taste sweet, but can lead to tooth damage.

“This is because carbohydrates can cause acids, which will attack the enamel,” Dr Jethwa says.

Likewise orange juice, which may seem healthy, can “lead to erosion due to high acidity levels”.

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