Milk teeth are just as important as adult teeth
Despite the fact that your child’s baby teeth will be replaced over time, preventing tooth decay in these ‘milk’ teeth is still important. Bad bacteria around baby teeth can often linger and spread to newly erupted permanent teeth. Your baby’s first teeth will begin to appear usually at around six months of age, and will only be fully replaced by around the age of twelve. These baby teeth are essential for the development of speech, chewing and healthy adult teeth.
Brushing your child’s teeth
You should gently wipe your baby’s gums daily with a wet cloth. When their teeth do appear, you can brush them with specially designed baby-friendly brushes, which have small heads, rounded bristles, and will be kind on teeth and gums. Use plain water once a day, not toothpaste.
For children between eighteen months and two years of age you can begin to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing low amounts of fluoride, and make sure they learn to spit it out after brushing.
For children between two and eight years, you can use smears of regular toothpaste or a milk teeth toothpaste, if they still have trouble spitting out the excess. Supervise while they brush their own teeth first. Up to the age of six, children do not usually have the dexterity required to brush their own teeth well, so help them with the task once they have had a chance to practice on their own. They should be brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time, usually after morning/evening meals.
Don’t forget to replace your child’s toothbrush every three to four months, or when the bristles begin fraying, and do not share toothbrushes between children or yourself.
Fluoride is important for developing strong teeth, however it is recommended that you do not use toothpaste containing fluoride for children younger than eighteen months. Overexposure to fluoride can damage developing teeth. Store all toothpaste out of reach of children.
Flossing is encouraged from the age of two and a half years. By laying your child’s head in your lap, similar to being in a dentist chair, you can have a really good look at their teeth while you floss them. As they get older, it is good for them to get into the habit of flossing, so allow them to floss their own teeth around the age of six. Make flossing and brushing as fun as possible to encourage your child to do it!
A very important way to help prevent tooth decay in young children includes limiting consumption of sugary and acidic drinks, snacks or foods. Instead, encourage ‘teeth-friendly’ foods such as cheese, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and teach your child not to share drink bottles or cutlery as this can transfer harmful bacteria.
Your child’s first dental visit
Take your child to the dentist for their first check-up before they are two years old, and then at least once a year every year after that. If your child damages their teeth in any way, contact your dentist immediately. Your dentist or therapist will be the best source of advice regarding your child’s oral health care. They may advise more frequent visits or other preventative measures if they notice that your child is at higher risk of developing tooth decay. The good news is that early diagnosis of tooth decay means that treatment can be very conservative and least traumatic for your child.
How do I take care of my baby/toddler’s teeth?
If your baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, you can wipe her gums with a clean warm wet cloth after every feed. Once she gets her first teeth, make sure you clean them after feeds with a warm wet cloth and avoid letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle. Do not allow your baby to drink anything else but milk or water from a bottle. Your toddler can have their teeth brushed the same way as the rest of the family. Until they are three years old they may not be able to spit, so avoid putting too much toothpaste on the brush and use only a smear rather than a blob of paste to brush their teeth. You may choose to use a milk teeth toothpaste with less fluoride until the first permanent teeth start erupting, but using regular toothpaste is also fine, as long as you use it in small quantities.
How can I introduce my child to good oral health routine right from the start?
Each time you have an appointment with our hygienist, your teeth are professionally scaled and polished, and remineralising agent is applied. We screen your mouth for gum disease, malignancies and tooth decay. Preventing problems is vital to good health, so our hygiene team will discuss with you how to best look after your teeth and gums at home. A dental therapist is a vital part of our team, offering a wonderful service treating dental concerns in children. A dental therapist is a great alternative to seeing a dentist, especially for young children. Our therapist has a great way of making children’s visits fun and enjoyable.