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Our Undervalued Teeth  

By Jeanne Hambleton

If you lived to 100 and cleaned your teeth from an early age twice a day, you may have brushed your teeth around 73,000 times.  If you chewed a meal with your teeth three times a day until you were hundred years old, your teeth would have helped you eat about 109,500 times.  What a hard working and under estimated part in our life our teeth play.  Having said that quite a lot of us succumb to false teeth in later life.

If you do a bit of arithmetic about different things your body does, I am sure you will be staggered just how much we take for granted. And you will be reminded what a wonder the human body really is.  

But now I am writing about teeth…Adults have more teeth than children. Most adults finally have 32 teeth. Among these teeth are 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 12 molars (including 4 wisdom teeth). Most people have a complete set of adult teeth by the time they reach their teenage years but only if they look after them.

Permanent teeth start to erupt when we are about 6 years old. Deciduous teeth will gradually wobble and fall out. All deciduous (baby) teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth before we are 12 or 13 years old. This transition period is called the mixed dentition stage. There are 32 permanent teeth and they are more yellowish than deciduous teeth. Our final ‘wisdom’ tooth, the third molar, will erupt between the age of 17 and 25 years old.


Research has revealed 30% of parents struggle to get their children to brush their teeth d we hope they set a good example.

Every parent knows that children are not always the most co-operative.  When it comes to getting them to do something new or that they do not want to do they can be particularly resistant, whether it is putting on shoes or getting them to take a bath.

For dental care dentists will always advocate starting as early as possible to get your children accustomed to the process of brushing their teeth. Often it can be as simple as handing them a baby toothbrush for them to chew on - anything that gets them used to the feeling.

New research conducted by Europe’s largest dental treatment provider, MyDentist, has revealed that 30% of parents struggle with getting their children to brush their teeth, rating it more difficult than getting them to wash or dress themselves.

Steve Williams, Clinical Services Director at MyDentist, said,
“Parents should teach their kids about the importance of oral hygiene as early as possible; brushing baby teeth as soon as they start to appear and supervising children as they get older until they are at least eight years old.

“This will give them the best possible start and will get them used to the sensations. The trick is to make it a positive experience. If brushing your teeth becomes a regular and fun thing to do then children will be far more eager to take part. It is essential that parents instil good brushing habits from an early age by highlighting the importance of making sure all areas are cleaned including between the teeth, and encouraging them to brush for two minutes, which can often seem like a long time.”

He added, “But it is also important to remember that brushing is not enough - parents also need to think about what their children eat by limiting sugar and ensuring they have a healthy and balanced diet.”

Jacques Noir said, “We started really early. Gave our daughter a baby toothbrush before she even had any teeth. Naturally it went straight in her mouth and she would chew on it. It got her used to the feeling of having it in her mouth. Since then it has never been a struggle at all.  She actually enjoys brushing her teeth!

“When they hit about one and a half to two, we’d have them play with the toothbrush to encourage them to put it in their mouth. Then we would encourage them to brush their own teeth morning and night with us, mimicking our actions. After a month or two we’d introduce a mild toothpaste and start teaching them to brush their teeth in a pattern (front, side, top of the side, etc.). By about four they only really needed moderate supervision to make sure they take their time and do not mess around. By about six they were brushing their teeth confidently with little supervision.”

Children copy their role models, like mum and dad or an older sibling, and   research showed that 37% of parents brush their teeth alongside their children to encourage them to follow suit.

One parent said,  “We made it a group activity so if they do not do it they feel left out. They all do it without a fuss now. The youngest (14 months) absolutely loves it!”

Jedichop added,  “My son is 16 months old and he has a training toothbrush - we do it twice a day. It works because he is going through a phase right now where he loves to do everything dad does and so when I brush my teeth, he wants to brush too.”

If there’s one thing that kids love, it is playing games. So why not make brushing their teeth fun? If they enjoy themselves they are more likely to associate brushing with positive feelings. Research by MyDentist showed that making the routine more fun was a common tactic used by parents. Some of their methods included using a song (14%), sticking stars on a reward chart (14%) and using a fun toothbrush (24%).

Kenwenot suggested, “It took a while but once you nail down the game of ‘clean the tiger teeth’ it makes it easier. It also helps that she loves tigers and I keep showing her ‘clean tiger teeth’.”

One of the best kept secrets for tooth brushing is singing songs you know. Log on to the Department of Health’s own singing songs and you will all know the words.

Now you can sing songs you know, adapted to brushing your teeth. Print out a song sheet to learn the words and your teeth will be clean in no time.  

The songs you will know include the Row, row, row the boat, London Bridge, Old MacDonald had a Farm, If you’re happy and you know it, Jingle Bells and many more you will remember. Log in and print out the song sheet to keep in the bathroom.  Have fun with your toothbrush.

Tough tactics
Sometimes you have to get tough with older children by showing them what could happen if they do not do brush their teeth.

Eek04 said, “We threaten to not brush their teeth. Mind you, that threat has never been carried out. We have talked about how bacteria can be bad for their teeth, and showed pictures from the Internet - and then constructed teeth brushing as a favour we do for them. Now it is something that they want to do.”

MyDentist is the largest provider of dental care in Europe, with a network of more than 670 practices all committed to delivering high quality and innovative dental and orthodontic treatments. They believe it is never too early to introduce the idea of brushing teeth to children - sooner the better! - and that diet and regular dental check-ups should form part of their oral hygiene regime.

If all else fails there is always a Tooth Fairy and what a delightful visit to her very own website this can be.  It appears there is Tooth Fairy Village and a Tooth Fairy Castle so there must be a lot of fairies.

If you ask what happens if I do not brush my teeth, the Tooth Fairy has all the answers. This just might persuade your child to clean their teeth. Log on to


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