Top Tips for Caring for Your Children’s Teeth in Zurich
Wherever your children are growing up, one thing that is really important for their overall health, is the condition of their teeth. Poor dental care can lead to infection, disease and even the permanent loss of teeth but with the right attention, your children’s teeth should last them a lifetime.
Frequent Questions about Children and Teeth
People often ask when they should start brushing their babies’ teeth, when children should be brushing their teeth themselves and when they should expect baby teeth to arrive and second teeth to be in place. Another question is fluoride and flossing? Should children use fluoride and when should they begin flossing?
These are just some of the questions we put to Dr Marina Thomas, who is an English speaking family dentist in Zurich, to get some tips and an understanding of what to expect with our children’s teeth.
Good Oral Health = Good Overall Health
Dr Thomas told us that good oral care is very important to the overall health of a child and good habits should begin when the child is young.
Question and Answer with Dr Marina Thomas
NIZ: When should you start brushing baby’s teeth?
Dr Thomas: As soon as the first teeth appear you should gently wipe them. From the age of 12 months onwards you can carefully brush baby’s teeth with a soft brush. Just use a tiny grain-like amount of children’s toothpaste.
NIZ: By what age should all my children’s first teeth be present and when do they start falling out?
Dr Thomas: This varies from child to child but generally the first loss of milk teeth starts from around the age of 6 years old.
NIZ: At what age should all my children’s second teeth be present?
Dr Thomas: Usually (but not always) children aged 13 – 14 years old will have all their permanent teeth in place.
NIZ: My baby sucks his thumb. Could this be a problem? What can I do?
Dr Thomas: If your baby sucks his thumb for long periods of time, particularly during the night, this could lead to a deformation of the upper jaw. Very often young children stop this habit of their own accord between the ages of 2 and 4. However, if it continues you need to talk to your dentist about this to avoid it becoming a serious problem.
NIZ: From what age should children start brushing their own teeth?
Dr Thomas: This depends on the child but generally from the age of 6 or 7 onwards children can brush their own teeth. However, up to the age of 10 years old, it is extremely important that parents check their children’s teeth afterwards, to see that the brushing has been done correctly. If you have any concerns that your child might not be brushing their teeth properly always mention this to your dentist and ask their advice. Make tooth brushing a routine or ritual, so that children do it automatically twice a day without thinking.
NIZ: How often should children brush their teeth.
Dr Thomas: twice a day, morning and evening with milk teeth. When adult teeth come through ideally this should be three times a day after meals.
NIZ: What tips can you give for making it easier for children to brush their teeth properly.
Dr Thomas: Letting children choose the colour (and design) of their toothbrush is a good idea and the flavour of their toothpaste. It’s important that they brush for a full 2 minutes – so using an electric timer or sand timer or even playing their favourite song for 2 minutes is a good idea. You could also buy them one of the many videos and books on brushing teeth so that children can understand why they are doing it.
NIZ: How do I know if my children are brushing their teeth correctly?
Dr Thomas: Ask your dentist when you visit for the annual check up.
NIZ: From what age and how often should I take my child for a dental check up.
Dr Thomas: From the age of two, once a year.
NIZ: How often should children change their toothbrush?
Dr Thomas: Every 1-3 months but as soon as the bristles are starting to look a bit worn they should be replaced.
NIZ: Should children floss their teeth? At what age should they start?
Dr Thomas: Children should start flossing their teeth from the age of 10 years onwards.
NIZ: Any special advice for children brushing their teeth?
Dr Thomas: Teeth should be brushed with vertical movements from the gum towards the top of the teeth.
NIZ: What causes decay in teeth and how does it happen?
Dr Thomas: Caries (or dental decay) is caused by frequent consumption of sweet drinks and food and insufficient dental care. The bacteria in the dental plaque transforms the sugar into acid within minutes and it is this acid which starts attacking the teeth.
NIZ: How can we avoid our children having fillings?
Dr Thomas: Ideally teeth should be brushed after every meal but as a minimum, twice a day, morning and evening. Children should not be given snacks containing sugar and babies should not be given sweet teas, fruit juice, syrup and iced tea. Sugary drinks and sweets should never substitute healthy food and drinks. Not only are they bad for children’s teeth but they can lead to weight problems too. It’s much better for children to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, unsweetened milk products and cereals, and to drink herbal teas and water.
NIZ: I try to give my children a healthy diet but they still want sweets – what can I do?
Dr Thomas: Sweets and snacks should be eaten just once (or as a maximum twice) a day. Also, after consuming sugary foods, kids should clean their teeth straight away or at least rinse their teeth. Milk-teeth are important for the general health and development of children. It’s important to avoid caries at the milk-teeth stage to ensure healthy teeth and gums in the long term.
NIZ: Does the water in Zurich contain fluoride? Should we be giving children toothpaste with fluoride?
Dr Thomas: Unlike the UK and Ireland and many states in America, the water in Zurich does not contain fluoride. Children’s toothpaste contains a small amount of fluoride, but from the age of 10 children can start using adult toothpaste, although they must remember not to swallow it.
NIZ: What do you think about children having a fluoride treatment applied to their teeth to help protect against decay?
DR Thomas: Fluoride treatment can be applied to children’s teeth by the dentist if requested, up to around the age of 10. After that, you can buy Elmex Fluoride Gel which can be applied at home once a week. Again, children shouldn’t swallow it.
NIZ: I’ve seen contradictory advice about chewing gum. Should I let my children chew gum?
Dr Thomas: Sugar-free chewing-gum is fine for dental health for both adults and children as it helps re-mineralise teeth due to the presence of more saliva in the mouth.
NIZ: Does my child need a mouth guard when playing sports?
Dr Thomas: A sports mouth guard is very advisable if children take part in contact sports like ice-hockey, boxing, football and baseball (and also snowboarding) as chipped and broken teeth can sometimes result from these types of sports. If possible, the child should clean their teeth each time before wearing the mouth guard.
NIZ: When do Wisdom teeth arrive?
Dr Thomas: Wisdom teeth usually start coming in from the age of 16 years onwards but sometimes don’t appear till the age of 30 or even later.
NIZ: Do wisdom teeth usually need to be extracted?
Dr Thomas: Wisdom teeth only need to be extracted if they are creating a problem in the mouth for example if they start causing overcrowding in the mouth.
NIZ: Any other tips you can give us?
Dr Thomas: It is important to make regular dental appointments once a year until all teeth are in place. Then the dentist and the dental hygienist can decide if it is better to upgrade to two visits per year which is usually what I recommend for adults. Another tip – after taking your children for an appointment to the dentist, it’s always a good idea to plan a fun activity after the visit!
If you are looking for a child-friendly dentist in Zurich feel free to contact Dr Marina Thomas using the details below:
Dr Marina Thomas Dental Practice
Address: Seestrasse 67, 8002 Zürich (opposite Museum Rietberg)
Tel. +41 44 202 20 41
For more information visit Dr Thomas’ Website which is in English as well as German
See the Google Map below for location details.
Photos courtesy of Dr Marina Thomas
This article was produced in conjunction with and support from Dr Thomas
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