Your general health and well-being rely heavily on your dental and oral health. Studies have shown that poor oral can cause tooth cavities and gum disease, and even illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
It is a continuous commitment to maintain proper oral hygiene. It is crucial to teach our children the correct oral hygiene habits, such as brushing, flossing, and having a balanced diet – so parents can nurture healthy, bright smiles as young as possible. As we know, a child’s smile means the world to any parent.
Jordan Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd recently launched Jordan Can’t Smile Without You, a campaign dedicated to helping more parents understand how a child’s oral hygiene can reflect their confidence. As part of the campaign, Jordan surveyed some Malaysian parents to find out what their child’s smile means to them and what sort of oral hygiene habits Malaysian parents are inculcating among their children. From this, an exciting finding emerged where, compared to toys or screen time, 86% of the respondents said that family quality time is the number one factor that makes them smile. A healthy smile is undoubtedly one way children develop interpersonal relationships and self-esteem.
We spoke to Jerry Ng, Country Manager, Malaysia, Thailand & Philippines at Jordan Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd who shared with us more about the survey and the link between oral care and self-confidence in children and Dr. Shani Ann Mani, Associate Professor, Department of Paediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry at Universiti Malaya who shared with us some of the best practices for children’s oral care.
What was the inspiration behind the Jordan Can’t Smile Without you survey?
Jerry Ng: Most parents are always busy and on the go and they can sometimes miss out on special moments with their child. We know that parents would do anything for their child’s smiles, and we wanted to help enhance that precious bond between parent and child.
As an oral care brand, Jordan knows very well how important having healthy teeth is to create confident, bright smiles. A healthy smile is undoubtedly one way children develop interpersonal relationships and self-esteem and we wanted this campaign to help draw that connection for parents, and encourage them to spend more time with their children, whilst driving awareness for inculcating good oral hygiene from a young age.
“A healthy smile is undoubtedly one way children develop interpersonal relationships and self-esteem.”
What was the most significant finding from the survey?
Jerry Ng: Compared to toys or screen time, 86% of respondents said that family quality time is the number one factor that makes their children smile. This finding stood out to us because it underlined the child’s desire for more time with their parent, and served as a reminder for us to actively make time for those special moments.
On top of that, it was also encouraging to see good results relating to oral hygiene. 97% of respondents said they use age-appropriate toothbrushes for their kids while 62% of respondents stated that they change their child’s toothbrush every three months.
This is significant as it shows that most Malaysian parents are well-versed with the importance of proper oral hygiene for their children. Jordan always advocates the importance of oral hygiene from a young age, which will lead to healthy teeth and a good oral care routine as they grow older.
Could you expand further on the link between oral care and self-confidence in children?
Jerry Ng: As children grow, they may come into contact with common diseases such as cavities or tooth decay. When the first thing people notice in a smile is teeth, having these issues at such a young age can cause harm to a child’s self-confidence, and in some severe cases, even cause children to hide their smiles.
The good news is that this is preventable. Good oral care from a young age can help prevent the teeth from decaying. Using a gentle formulated toothpaste is also essential in a child’s oral hygiene as it strengthens the child’s teeth by adding minerals back to the enamel found on the teeth. Good brushing technique paired with proper rinsing, a flossing routine, combined with a well-balanced diet and regular visits to the dentist will help children maintain, healthy, bright smiles.
This is why Jordan always encourages proper and good oral health for children as young as 0-2 years old – we believe it is important that parents use the right toothbrush and toothpaste for their child’s needs, and to educate them on the importance of oral care from the very start so they can grow up practicing good oral hygiene.
What are some best practices for children’s oral care? How does it vary in different age stages?
Dr. Shani: The best oral care practice for your child is to brush twice daily (most importantly before bedtime and any other time during the day) with the right amount of fluoridated toothpaste. In young children below 6 years, parents have the responsibility to assist their child with toothbrushing making sure all surfaces of all teeth are cleaned and the child spits out the toothpaste. Fluoridated toothpastes should have a minimum of 1000ppm of fluoride for children younger than 6 years, with children younger than 3 years requiring only a smear of toothpaste while children older than 3 years can use a pea-sized amount. There is no need to rinse mouth with water after brushing to remove the toothpaste completely.
As children get older, parents should continue supervision till they are confident that their child can brush effectively and independently. A child older than 6 years can use pea-sized 1450ppm fluoridated toothpaste. Simply spitting out the toothpaste after toothbrushing without rinsing with water permits extended fluoride protection on the teeth.
“Children younger than 3 years old require only a smear of toothpaste while children older than 3 years old can use a pea-sized amount.”
What should parents look for when choosing a toothbrush for their children?
Dr. Shani: A toothbrush should have soft bristles and should fit comfortably in the mouth. Age-group recommendations on the packaging are a useful guide for parents. A child should be able to grip the toothbrush to encourage them to develop toothbrushing skills. Attractive colours and shapes have an additional advantage to encourage children to brush teeth.
How does a child’s diet affect their oral care?
Dr. Shani: Diet plays a very important role in oral care. Frequent intake of sweetened food and liquids increases the risk for cavity formation and increases the number of bacteria in the mouth. Soft, sticky food stay longer in the mouth and increase the risk for cavities. On an average, sweetened food and liquids should not be given more than 3 times a day and children should be encouraged to rinse their mouth with plain water after consuming such foods.
On the other hand, unsweetened (eg cheese and nuts) and fibrous foods (fruits) are proven to have less risk for cavities and promote good oral health. Children should be encouraged to eat such foods as snacks.
Young children should be encouraged to stop bottle feeding by 1 year and drink from a free-flow cup. Night-time bottle feeding considerably increases the risk for cavities and should be discouraged.
“Night-time bottle feeding considerably increases the risk for cavities and should be discouraged.”
What are some steps that parents should take when they start noticing tooth decay in their child?
Dr. Shani: Tooth decay is a gradual process and can take a few months to develop before it becomes evident. Regardless, as soon as you notice tooth decay in your child, it is important to ensure keeping teeth clean with the best oral hygiene practices. There is evidence to show that regular twice daily toothbrushing can stop or delay the progress of tooth decay.
The next step is to make an appointment with a dentist to get professional advice and preventive measures to manage the decayed tooth. While early stages of tooth decay can be controlled by regular effective oral hygiene, more advanced stages of tooth decay require fillings or crowns.