Australian family routines have been significantly impacted in recent months, with many of us baking more (45 per cent), brushing our teeth less and ordering more takeaway food (40 per cent), according to new research.
At the start of Dental Health Week, a national survey of Australian parents released by Life Education and Philips Sonicare reveals 42 per cent of children's dental routines have changed recently, with 62 per cent of parents admitting this was a shift away from positive habits, such as brushing teeth less than twice a day or only brushing for a short time. Parents themselves have also been affected, with 35 per cent confessing their own dental routine has been impacted.
The research also revealed the impact of lockdown on our eating habits, with 38 per cent of parents admitting their children's diets have changed in recent months due to additional snacking. As a result, 31 per cent of children's sugar intakes have also increased, with popular treats enjoyed including chocolate and lollies (51 per cent), baked goods (46 per cent) and ice cream (44 per cent). Similarly, nearly half of parents (47 per cent) concede their own diets have slipped recently.
Visiting the dentist has been another pain point for Australian families. Despite 86 per cent of parents recognising their children should see the dentist at least once, if not twice, a year, 30 per cent admit their children haven't been in over 12 months.
These combined changes to diet and dental routines have had a big impact on our overall health and wellbeing, and Life Education's Kellie Sloane said more education is required to help families get their healthcare back on track.
"When it comes to resetting good health habits, families need support. Our research shows parents are finding it difficult to maintain their children's dental routine. This is where Life Education can help. The last few months have been tough for all of us. The Life Education program includes messages about dental health and our online resources can help families with tips and support.
"Prevention is always better than cure, and healthy habits, such as choosing foods with less processed sugars and encouraging our children to take care of their dental health, will pay off in the long run.
"Although more than 85 per cent of parents rate the importance of their children's oral health as eight out of 10 or higher, we all know it's easier said than done. Engaging parents to speak to their children about oral health from a young age means they will be more likely to develop lifelong healthy habits," said Sloane.
Philips Sonicare Dentist Dr Rick Iskandar said Dental Health Week is the perfect time to reflect on recent months and reignite healthy routines.
"To think so many children and parents are not brushing their teeth twice a day is worrying, especially in light of this new evidence that our overall sugar intake has increased recently.
"Our oral health is a window to our overall health, so it's extremely important for families to watch what they're eating and reestablish a regular dental routine.
"Dental technology has come a long way and there are some amazing products that will ensure your family's oral health is in safe hands. Dental health experts are also a wealth of knowledge and can provide tips for both parents and kids. This is an excellent first step in building, or re-building, your oral health care routine," said Dr Iskandar.
1. Bring back the routine
Our routines have changed drastically in recent months, with thousands of Aussies working from home (or off work altogether) and kids attending school virtually. This lack of structure has made it difficult to keep our hygiene habits on track. In fact, what the new Life Education Parent Survey has revealed is that 42% of parents admit their children's dental routine has changed and 35% acknowledging their own has also slipped.
Rather than relying on train timetables or school bells, we need to find new ways to keep our routine in check. Setting a schedule to brush your teeth at set times together will help to rebuild these habits as a family. Not only does this set a good example but it will create engaging family time that the kids can look forward to.
2. Supervise your shopping trolley
Spending more time at home hasn't just changed our routine, it has also impacted our diet, with many of us baking more (45%) and increasing our takeaway food consumption (40%). In fact, 31% of parents admit their children's sugar intake has increased in recent months, while 47% admit their own eating habits have also slipped.
It's important we bring diet control back into the home to protect our teeth and gums, and the first stop is the shopping trolley. Make sure you read the nutrition label and opt for products which contain small amounts of natural sugars such as fruit and milk, over processed foods with large quantities of added sugar. It's recommended that we consume no more than 6 teaspoons / 24 grams of added sugars per day.
3. Have the right tools
Dental technology has come a long way and there are some amazing products that will ensure your family's oral health is in safe hands. For the little ones, I recommend the Philips Sonicare For Kids electric toothbrush because it combines best-in-class cleaning technology with a fun and interactive app to teach kids about oral healthcare through play.
For mum and dad, the new Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000 can help maintain healthy brushing habits in between dental check-ups by offering up to 10x more plaque removal than a manual toothbrush and personalised progress reports via the Sonicare app.
4. See your dentist
Despite 86% of parents recognising their children should see the dentist at least once, if not twice a year, 30% admit their children haven't been in over 12 months.
Prevention is better than cure, and the best advice I can give here is the sooner you go, the sooner you'll have your oral health back under control. Dental health experts are a wealth of knowledge and can provide tips for both parents and kids. This is an excellent first step in building, or re-building, your oral health care routine.
5. Stress less… for your teeth!
There is no question that the world is going through a stressful time. However, what some may not realise is that some of the most damaging effects of stress can occur in our mouths. The combination of more uncertainty and less routine has expressed itself in negative ways on our oral health and I have seen a significant increase in the number of young patients recently suffering from teeth grinding, tension headaches and even cracked teeth. With the increased sugar intake added to this combination, it's the perfect storm for decay to set into these compromised, stressed teeth.
When getting back to a routine, don't forget to schedule in some family relaxation time. Your teeth will thank you for it!