Dr Samantha Byrne
Lecturer Melbourne Dental School
MDHS AKA The Tooth Fairy
I am so thrilled to have Dr Samantha Byrne _the_tooth_fairy_ join our blog to help us teach our children all about keeping their teeth healthy. Dr Samantha Byrne brings a wealth of knowledge in this area as a former Dentist wIth a PhD in oral microbiology and working currently as a Lecturer in oral microbiology and preventative dentistry at The University of Melbourne, we can trust that we are getting the very best advise!
Learning all about how to keep their teeth healthy is one of many important life skills children need to learn. Children are full of questions and with three little children I have answered a LOT of questions about teeth! Here are some of the big teeth-related questions you are bound to hear!
Why do we have teeth?
Teeth help us chew food! The sharp teeth at the front (the incisors) help to bite, the pointy teeth at the corners (the canines) also help bite and tear food and the big back teeth (the molars) help to break food into smaller pieces. Breaking food down helps us digest the food once it gets into our stomach and then intestines. But teeth are also important for helping us make sounds when we talk, and of course for smiling which is a brilliant way of brightening someone’s day.
What are teeth made from?
Teeth are made from crystals of calcium and phosphate, like what makes up our bones. This makes teeth very hard. The outer layer of teeth is called enamel, and this is the hardest tissue in our body.
Why do we have to clean our teeth?
Even though teeth are super hard, they can get damaged if we don’t look after them properly. Our mouths are home to hundreds of different types of bacteria. When these bacteria grow on our teeth, they make a sticky layer called plaque. Some of these bacteria help to keep our mouths healthy. But some of the bacteria are not good for teeth, so we need to make sure we clean the plaque off twice each day – after breakfast and then before bed.
How d o the bacteria in the mouth damage the teeth?
Some of the bacteria in our mouth can turn the sugar we eat into acid. This acid damages the hard tooth, making it weaker. If there is only a little bit of damage this can be repaired by saliva and some toothpastes. But if there is a lot of damage, this can make holes in the teeth. These holes are called tooth decay.
Does that meant I can’t eat any sugar?
Sugar is found in lots of foods that are great for teeth! Fruits and vegetables have sugar, but chewing fresh fruit and vegetables helps keep our teeth healthy by making lots of saliva which helps protect our teeth. Some foods like soft drink, fruit juice, biscuits and some breakfast cereal have lots of sugar and this is the sugar that is not good for teeth.
Are there other food that can make my teeth strong?
Dairy food like milk and cheese are great for teeth. This is because they can give the teeth more calcium which helps keep them strong.
So does that mean I can’t eat the lollies from the lolly bag from Will’s party?
You can eat the lollies from the party bag. The best time to eat them is with lunch or dinner when there is a lot of saliva around.
Why do you have to help me clean my teeth? I really want to clean my teeth all by myself!
You do such a good job cleaning your teeth! I really need to help you to make sure those big back teeth are super clean. How about you help me clean my teeth first, and then I will help you? We can use a timer to help us make sure we brush for long enough. Can you turn it over?
Why is my toothbrush so much smaller than your toothbrush?
Your toothbrush is the perfect size for your mouth! It has a nice small head so that we can move it all around your mouth. And the bristles are nice and soft so that they will clean all the plaque and food off your teeth but will be gentle when we are cleaning your gums.
Why do I have to use toothpaste? It tastes yucky!
Toothpaste has a special ingredient in it called fluoride. The fluoride helps to repair any damage that the bacteria have caused, and it makes the teeth a bit stronger! We can try another flavour of toothpaste though. If you don’t like the minty flavour, we could try bubble-gum flavour instead.
How come Freddie didn’t have to use toothpaste when he was little?
Children usually don’t need to use a toothpaste until they are 1 ½. After that they use a toothpaste that has a small amount of fluoride in it. Then when you turn 6 you can use a toothpaste for grown-up teeth which has a bit more fluoride in it. When we go to the dentist, we will check that we are using the perfect toothpaste to keep your teeth healthy.
Why do we have to go to the dentist?
The dentist needs to count your teeth, and make sure that we are cleaning them properly. They will check that we are using the right toothpaste, and that we are eating the right food and drink to help keep your teeth good and strong. You can sit on my knee when the dentist is checking your teeth if you like, and I really think we need to get your teddy’s teeth checked too!
Hopefully this will cover many of the questions you might encounter while you and your little one craft away with the Human Body Creative Box. For more answers to tooth-related questions you can find me on Instagram _the_tooth_fairy_ and print out your FREE Tooth Fairy colouring page HERE
Happy crafting and learning!