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Katie Dullaghan answers frequently asked questions on dental health of the young

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Katie Dullaghan, Dental Nurse turned Author, and Founder of Happy Teeth Education, worked in dental health for over 15 years. As a dental nurse, Katie saw first-hand the affect that dental decay has in children and wanted to make a change. Katie saw that through key messages delivered in the right way could have a positive effect on the habits that children create from a young age. Through her educational products, which are being introduced in families, dental practices and schools, Katie aims to reduce childhood dental decay right across the UK, making little teeth happy 🦷

1) If parents are struggling with tooth-brushing at home during them pandemic, what advice would you give them? 

2) Two minutes is the recommended time for tooth brushing; how can parents encourage kids to keep going for the full 2 minutes? 

3) What can parents do to make tooth brushing more fun? 

The best advice with children is encouraging independence. Encourage them to want to look after their teeth. Make it fun! Use dancing and singing in the bathroom together and show your little one how to brush. Using a timer is great to help them to understand how long to brush for. An exciting toothbrush with their favourite character and a toothpaste that they like, as there are lots of different flavours available for children as long as they contain the recommended amount of fluoride of at least 1000ppm.

4) What resources can parents’ access when it comes to ensuring they are doing everything possible to protect their child’s teeth? 

George and the Happy Tooth are resources which encourage positive habits in oral health in a fun and colourful way. The characters encourage engagement and are featured in a host of books and resources to encourage good happy teeth habits. We use reward charts, games and activities to create fun and learning for happy teeth.

5) Are there any foods or drinks that parents might not recognise to be bad for their children’s teeth but are known to increase the risk of tooth decay?

There are lots of foods which contain sugar. The key is the frequency that sugar in consumed. Each time we eat a sugary food/drink there is a sugar attack which increases the PH in the mouth which makes teeth more vulnerable to decay. If sugary foods are kept to mealtimes there is a much-reduced risk of decay.

6) How to properly introduce flossing to children? 

Show your child how to wrap the dental floss around their index finger. Teach them to relax the floss into a ‘c’ shape and gently glide in-between the teeth. It’s best to floss before brushing to remove bacteria.

7) How to soothe children who have a toothache?

It depends what the toothache is. Whether it’s tooth eruptions or decay which may have caused an abscess. If you think your child may have decay take them to see the dentist. Children should have a dental check-up at least every 6 months to check for early signs of decay before toothache develops.

If toothache develops, call your dentist or emergency dentist, don’t use anything warm in the area, and give pain relief. When children are teething, this can be really painful as the tooth comes through. Use cold teethers, teething powders and pain relief.

8) What is the best theme tune to brushing teeth?

My little boy George likes the gummy bear song but any song that they enjoy to encourage positive thoughts about brushing.

9) Are there positive role-models that kids will relate to when it comes to looking after your teeth and your smile?

The best role models are family. Good habits are set in families. If parents and guardians can understand the basic principles of good oral health, then these are able to be passed on, encouraging good habits is key to happy teeth!

10) What would you say to parents that give sweet treats as rewards?

When sweet treats are given as a reward, they often feel more appealing. This leads children to develop a preference for them instead of healthier, more nutritional foods. Everyone loves a chocolate cake, biscuit, the most important thing is not making a habit of snacking on sugary snacks, keep them to mealtimes to keep teeth happy and healthy.

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