Like parent, like child: oral health starts at home

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  Posted by: Dental Design      5th September 2021

“A chip off the old block”, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”; these are just a couple of common sayings that reflect the importance that parental care and influence has, not only on a child’s attitude and mannerisms, but vitally, on their overall health and development.

This influence is particularly apparent when it comes to breastfeeding. World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), run by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) (August 1-7 2021) [i] promotes breastfeeding as a universal solution that gives everyone a fair chance in life and lays the foundation for good health. The value in breastfeeding lies not only in its nutritional advantages, but also in that it protects children from a range of illnesses including infection, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and obesity, as well as cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). [ii]

Like breastfeeding, there are many other ways that parents can set the foundations of their child’s future health early on. To protect a child’s oral health from the start, dental professionals can advise new parents, highlighting the benefits of leading by example and instilling good oral hygiene habits that young people can take into adulthood.

Oral health for babies: laying the foundations

It can be good to remind parents to start their baby’s dental care journey as soon as their first tooth comes through. While we know that for those under 3 years old, using a baby toothbrush with a small smear of fluoride toothpaste twice a day is recommended, vii it can be helpful to reassure new parents that it is the setting of the daily routine, as much as the brushing itself, that benefits the child’s future health.

Oral health for children: leading by example

As children become more independent with brushing and flossing, one of the best things clinicians can advise parents to do is to continue to lead by example for their offspring – children might do as their parents say, but are more likely to do as they do.

As a reminder, here are some of the key tips clinicians can discuss with their patients to help them maintain good oral health – for themselves and their offspring:

Make healthy food choices
As we know, sugary food and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay. [iii] It’s therefore important to take a holistic approach to patient advice and let them know what items to avoid (or at least reduce).

Advise them to stay clear of sugar-laden sweets and fizzy drinks, and limit their intake of fruit juice and smoothies, while encouraging them to pick up fruit and raw vegetables instead. [iv]

Schedule regular dental and/or hygiene appointments

Motivate patients to book in dental or hygiene appointments as recommended for professional cleanings, check-ups, and so they can report and address any issues as early as possible.

Also, encourage them to bring their child so they can become familiar with the practice team and environment. Perhaps use this time to get them used to opening their mouth for the dental professional, which will help prepare for future check-ups. [v]

Set a daily routine

It continues to be simple, but important advice for patients is to brush at night and at least one other time in the day, for two minutes. Let them know that if they start brushing their child’s teeth early on, they’ll soon get used to this important twice-daily routine. iv

Additionally, prompt your patients to consider having a conversation with their children about why brushing is important so they understand that it helps to protect against tooth decay and gingival diseases. If brushing is a challenge, clinicians should also be ready to suggest persuasive ways to get children onboard – such as reward charts, or brushing along to their favourite song. iv

Choose the right tools for the job

It’s also helpful to suggest the right tools for the job so adult patients can achieve optimum oral health, and continue to be a good example for their children. Alongside a toothpaste that contains fluoride, consider recommending an electronic toothbrush such as the Sonic-Fusion® Flossing toothbrush by Waterpik®. As the world’s first flossing toothbrush, patients are able to brush, floss, or both at the press of a button – perfect for keeping dental problems at bay from every angle.

Patients can further enhance their oral routine with daily interdental cleaning [vi] to eliminate cavity-causing plaque. Consider recommending the Waterpik® Water Flosser that cleans away debris that other devices miss and are clinically proven to be more effective for reducing plaque, gingivitis, and gum disease. 


For more information on Waterpik® products please visit Waterpik® products are available from Amazon, Asda, Costco UK, Argos, Boots, Superdrug online and in stores across the UK and Ireland.

Book a free Waterpik® professional Lunch and Learn for 1 hour of verifiable CPD and a free Waterpik® Water Flosser – available either face to face or as a webinar – at 



[i] World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. Available at: [Last accessed 04.05.2021]

[ii] Unicef. Benefits of breastfeeding. Available at: [Last accessed 04.05.2021]

[iii] NHS. Which food cause tooth decay? Available at: [Last accessed 04.05.2021]

[iv] NHS. Sweets, fizzy drinks and bottles. Available at: [Last accessed 04.05.2021]

[v] NHS. Children’s teeth. Available at: [Last accessed 04.05.2021]

[vi] NHS. Why should I use interdental brushes? Available at: [Last accessed 04.05.2021]

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