At Gateway Dental Health we find that many people are unsure about how to take care of their children’s teeth. The basic principles of oral hygiene such as twice-a-day brushing and daily flossing applies to both adults and children alike, but there are unique factors to be aware of when caring for toddlers and young children’s teeth.
An often unknown but useful fact is that newborn babies have sterile mouths, meaning their mouths do not contain cavity-causing bacteria. Parents often pass bacteria from their own mouths to their children during mealtimes. It is not possible to keep a young mouth sterile forever, but parents can give their child’s teeth the best start by not cooling food in their own mouth before feeding the baby, and by limiting the sharing of meal time utensils such as forks and spoons.
There are many differing opinions on when children should first see a dentist, but at Gateway Dental Health we recommend 12 to 14 months of age to be an ideal time for a first visit. The first ‘milk’ teeth in children are usually the lower central incisors and can appear from anywhere between 6-12 months. Children, like adults, should continue to visit the dentist every 6 months as things can go wrong in a short amount of time.
We are more than happy for you to bring your child in for a ride on the chair or to simply get comfortable with our staff and the surroundings, especially if it is their first time. We want every child to have a healthy smile for life, and that starts with a fantastic first experience at the dentist.
Top tips for young teeth:
As soon as the first teeth appear, start wiping your baby’s gums and teeth daily with a soft damp cloth or gauze, or ask us about our range of Jack n’ Jill Silicone Finger brushes!
Do not put your baby to sleep with a bottle of milk, as overnight the milk will act as sugar on your baby’s teeth. This applies to juice and cordial. Plain water before bed is always the best option.
For toddlers and young children between 2-5yo:
Avoid frequent sweet snacks. This includes drinks such as juice, cordial or soft drinks.
Parents should begin teaching their children to brush by themselves around the age of four or five as it helps them to form good oral hygiene habits early. Every child is different, but we recommend supervising children brushing up until the age of six.
Flossing is very important, even for children. From the age of six, food begins to get trapped in between the baby and adult teeth and can lead to hidden decay and cavities. There are several useful and inexpensive tools to help you and your kids floss. Ask us for some suggestions!
Fluoride is an important tool in helping to fight decay. It helps to strengthen teeth in both adults and children. We recommend children using a pea-sized amount of toddler or children’s toothpaste until the age of six. Children’s toothpastes contain lower levels of fluoride and are specifically designed for young developing teeth.
For toddlers who won’t open their mouth to let you brush, try handing them your toothbrush and get them brushing your teeth at the same time. You’ll have a distracted mouth to clean and it will show them that you are getting involved as well.
Last but not least, be a good role model to your kids!
We hope you have found the information useful. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on (07) 3493 0028.
Take care and we hope to see you soon!
Dr Richard Chee
Gateway Dental Health