From babies to toddlers, it’s important to start good dental habits early!
Parents need to think about the long-term care of their baby’s teeth, even before the teeth have erupted. No baby is too young to attend St.James Dental so bring your baby with you when you come for your next routine examination. We recommend that babies start their routine examinations from six months old. We always regard children as very special patients and do everything we can to make their visits as pleasant and as enjoyable as possible. Our main aim is to help all children form good dental habits and an early interest in dental health. This will prevent problems with their teeth in later life.
Babies can sometimes be born with teeth present, but they generally appear around six months. They have usually all erupted by 36 months. Whilst your baby is teething, reduce their discomfort by keeping their mouth clean. Use a damp gauze pad, 3-4 times a day or gently brush their gums with a baby toothbrush. It can also help to give your baby a cool teething ring to bite on and where necessary, apply sugar-free teething gel. If your baby’s doctor prescribes liquid medicine, always ask for the sugar-free alternative especially if your baby is on long term medication.
Cleaning your baby’s teeth
Tooth brushing should be started before the teeth erupt. This allows your baby to get used to having a brush in their mouth. To brush your baby’s teeth, lay them flat with their feet facing away from your body. Using a small piece of gauze or soft baby toothbrush, gently stroke the gums. When teeth begin to appear, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste pushed well into the bristles. Always brush twice a day.
Cleaning your toddler’s teeth
Sit them on your lap or stand behind them. Gently brush their teeth in circular motions and brush each surface of every tooth. Brush for at least two minutes. Clean your child’s teeth twice a day up to the age of seven or eight and then supervise their cleaning up to the age of twelve.
Nursing bottle caries
This is a type of tooth decay that affects a baby’s upper teeth and is associated with bottle feeding. Nursing caries is caused when babies are settled to sleep with a bottle of milk, or any sweetened liquid. A toddler who is allowed to continually sip anything other than water from a bottle or training cup may also develop tooth decay.
How to prevent tooth decay
Tooth decay can affect both adults and children alike. So, it is important to prevent it as early as possible.
- Use still water as a thirst quencher in a bottle or cup.
- Do not add sugar or honey to drinks.
- Avoid fruit juices or squash between meals.
- Do not have sugary drinks or fruit juices at bedtime.
- Remove the bottle or cup when your child has finished drinking to avoid continuous sipping.
If your baby uses a dummy
- Do not dip the dummy in sugar solutions or syrup as this can cause severe tooth decay.
- Children should be weaned off dummies before their permanent front teeth erupt (approximately 6 years old).
- Do not suck your baby’s dropped dummy then give it to your baby, as this can pass on oral infections.
- A dummy should have a large mouth guard (kept outside of the lips) with 2 venting holes to allow your baby to breathe.
- A dummy should have no tears or holes in the rubber and should be flat rather than round in shape.
Have you considered how your child’s diet may affect their oral health? Sugar in a child’s diet produces acid that attacks their teeth. Their teeth are exposed to this acid for up to 30 minutes after eating and drinking sugary foods. At this point their teeth are at risk of decay.
Find out more about sugar with our ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ blog coming soon…
For more information on how to protect your child’s teeth, why not arrange a dental appointment with one of our dentists… Please contact our patient coordinator Jaime on 01452 727 665 or email: [email protected].