Regularly check your children’s gums. They should be pink, with an even tone throughout the mouth. If the area above one of the teeth is red and swollen, an infection may be the cause. Keep your eyes open for bleeding gums. Although less common in children than adults, bleeding gums and bad breath can be a sign of early stage gum disease caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that contains bacteria. If you don't remove plaque from your teeth by brushing them, it builds up and irritates your gums. This can lead to redness with bleeding, swelling and soreness.
Children and tooth decay
Children are as susceptible to tooth decay as adults. Look out for signs such as a dull white band on the tooth surface closest to the gum line. This is the first sign and can often remain undetected by parents. If your children suddenly complain about hot or cold food being painful, or it starts to hurt when they chew or bite, these can also be signs that a trip to the dentist is necessary. Make sure your child visits the dentist as often as he or she recommends for check-ups.
Keeping children’s teeth clean
Encourage your children to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Up until the age of three, a child should be using a toothpaste with 1100ppm (parts per million) of fluoride as it protects the teeth long after brushing. After three they can use the same toothpaste as you (1450ppm of fluoride). Some children don’t like very strongly flavoured toothpaste so try a few until you find one they like, remember to check it has the right level of fluoride.
Good habits for cleaning teeth
Try to get into a routine where children brush their teeth before bedtime and at one consistent time of day every day – say before breakfast. Habits are very important as setting a routine early means they are more likely to take them into later life. Make cleaning more fun by doing it together.