Getting your little ones to practise good dental care can certainly be an uphill battle. Yet despite the trouble it can be, it’s not something you can just leave off. Lack of good dental hygiene in children can have some deleterious effects later on in life due to plaque buildup.

But not is all lost! There are ways to ensure your children don’t develop a nasty layer of dental plaque on their teeth and gums. Here are some of the best methods for battling plaque in children and in preventing it from forming in the first place.

What Is Plaque?

Dental plaque is, in a word, horrid. It’s a barely perceptible layer of sticky bacterial residue that’s left over on your teeth — or your child’s teeth — that can’t simply be rinsed away with water. This bacteria thrives on food particles left behind after meals, but they’re especially enamoured of high-carbohydrate foods and beverages like milk, fizzy drinks, biscuits, sweeties.

The fact that these bacteria eat those food particles isn’t really the problem — it’s the fact that they then release acid as a byproduct. This acid weakens tooth enamel over time, resulting in cavities and tooth decay, gingivitis, and all sorts of related dental health issues. In other words, letting plaque linger is bad news.

The Best Defence is a Good Offence

Combating dental plaque is relatively straightforward: you need to get it out of your child’s mouth. Normally, the best choice for this is a standard brushing routine of at least twice a day — once in the morning and once at night. Fluoridated toothpaste is a good choice, as fluoride has been shown to strengthen tooth enamel.

Of course, some kids are going to be resistant to brushing. This will complicate things quite a bit, but you may need to set your foot down on this one. You can also increase brushing efficacy by combining it with once daily flossing and an antibacterial rinse. However, there’s one caveat — stay away from alcohol-based rinses and mouthwashes, as they tend to dehydrate the mouth. Ironically, this exposes your child’s teeth and gums to more bacteria.

When All Else Fails, Turn to Your Local Dentist

Sometimes, the only thing your child will hate more than brushing is visiting the dentist. We don’t recommend threatening your kids with dental visits if they don’t brush, though — that’s not exactly going to set the stage for a lifetime of good dental health practices — but your dental office plays an important role in the oral health of your kid.

Sometimes, a child won’t listen to Mum or Dad but will listen to a different authority figure. A dentist cautioning your little one on what happens if you don’t brush or providing education as to how to brush and floss properly might go over better than you or your spouse telling your child for the thousandth time to brush their teeth before bed. Always consult your local dentist to find out how they can help.