Encouraging tooth-friendly habits from an early age

Posted by Denplan on 22/07/2016
The Big Summer Brush Up logo

Helping parents get their child off to the right start with their dental care can make all the difference to their future oral health. As part of our Consumer Oral Health Survey*, we asked parents of children aged 18 or under about their child’s dental appointments and brushing habits. 

How often do children (aged 18 or under) visit the dentist for a routine check-up?

  • 62% at least once every six months
  • 21% at least once every year
  • 4% at least once every two years
  • 1% less than every two years
  • 2% only when in pain
  • 5% never
  • 6% parents who don’t know

Only one in five parents of children aged 18 or under (19%) said they first took their child to the dentist before 12 months of age. The majority (37%) said they took them when their child was aged between one and two years old, and almost a quarter (22%) said they waited until their child was aged between three and four.

Early emphasis

Speaking to your patient during pregnancy can be the best time to highlight the importance of taking their child to the dentist from an early age. If they have recently left Denplan but want to ensure access to their preferred dentist during pregnancy, they can re-join Denplan hassle-free without paying a registration fee (for up to two years after they leave).

Keeping leaflets on hand about children’s oral health can be an effective way of educating parents. As the statistics above show, few parents realise that regular appointments should be made as soon as the baby’s milk teeth start to appear, usually around six months of age. This can help them get used to the sights, sounds and smells of the dental practice and familiarise themselves with the team. Waiting until a child is of toddler age can often make appointments trickier, especially if they have already developed dental problems. Their first experience is not likely to be particularly enjoyable

Denplan Excel for Children can deliver added value for your younger patients, providing you with specific tools and support to demonstrate the importance of good oral hygiene. The colour coded reports generated can help to visualise their current condition and highlight key areas for them to work on.

Healthy tummies, healthy teeth

A good diet plays a key part in keeping children’s teeth healthy. One in five parents of children aged 18 or under (21%) said they aren’t confident that they’re giving their children food and drinks that are healthy for their teeth*. Combat this with posters in your waiting room featuring some of the main offenders. Simple advice can also be given to parents which emphasises the importance of combining healthy eating habits with regular brushing to minimise the damage to children’s oral health.

81% of parents with a child aged seven and under said they either brush their teeth for them or supervise their brushing. However, 9% of parents said their child brushes unsupervised*. Young children tend to rush their brushing and can miss areas in their mouth, especially the back teeth and sides. It’s recommended that parents supervise their child’s brushing until they’re at least seven years old, helping them brush any areas they might miss.

Open your doors to both potential and existing patients by hosting a brushing workshop in your practice. Show children and parents the best ways to brush and give families practical tips to try at home. You could also engage visitors with a brushathon, a charity raffle or competition. Not only will this provide valuable advice for your patients, but it’s also a great PR opportunity for your practice.

Brushing battles

Some children are easily encouraged to brush well but others can prove difficult. Almost two thirds of parents (60%) said they find it challenging to get their child (aged 18 or under) to brush for the recommended two minutes, twice a day*. If your patients are having similar problems you could try stocking timers or toothbrushes featuring popular characters to turn the two minutes into a fun activity rather than a chore.

Denplan are once again promoting awareness of regular brushing by running the Big Family Brush Up campaign over the school summer holidays. This includes downloadable content such as a brushing chart and tips to support the professional dental treatment and advice that you provide to young patients and their parents.

To find out more, please visit our Big Family Brush Up resources page or contact your local Dental Business Consultant to discuss other ways of getting involved.

*Denplan/YouGov Survey January 2016. Online survey of 5,152 UK adults.  Of which 1,272 were parents/ guardians of children aged 18 or under and 591 were parents/ guardians of children aged 7 or under.