Parents urged to attend kids dental appointments

13 September 2013
Concerned by the number of young children who fail to turn up to their dental appointments, Whanganui dental therapists will be asking parents to attend with their children.
Whanganui District Health Board dental clinical manager Barb Dewson says while parents are being vigilant about enrolling their babies with the service from birth and bringing their babies to their first appointment, they often fail to turn up when the preschooler is older, and particularly if they have treatment needs.
“Having regular contact with parents is very important,” Mrs Dewson says. “This is the time when we can talk about the need to keep teeth healthy so they last a lifetime. It’s when we tell them the following:
  • brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste once the teeth break through 
  • lift the lip every month to check the child’s teeth and gums 
  • choose healthy snacks and drinking water or milk 
  • be aware that sugar in sweet drinks, fizzy drinks, fruit juice or sweetened milk can harm their child’s teeth - especially at bedtime
  • be aware that babies get holes in their teeth from sucking for long periods of time on bottles containing sweetened drinks or from sleeping with a bottle in their mouth 
  • never dip a baby’s dummy into anything sweet as this will almost certainly lead to tooth decay
  • look after baby teeth because they hold spaces for adult teeth and guide the adult teeth into their correct position 
  • decay in baby teeth can not only become painful but it will affect the child’s eating and development 
  • decay in baby teeth can often signal that decay will develop in adult teeth. 
Mrs Dewson says alarmingly, 50 percent of five-year-old children of all ethnicities throughout the Whanganui region have had decay by the time they reach school.
“The fact that Whanganui’s water is not fluoridated doesn’t help us but if more families were to attend preschool appointments we would have more opportunity to educate them on decay prevention to improve this situation,” she says.
“We also want to see parents at appointments once their children start school. This allows us to keep up our efforts to educate them about dental health - particularly at a time when their children’s second teeth are starting to come through.”