Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. As early as four months, the first primary, or baby teeth, erupt through the gums. Most children have all their first teeth through by the time they’re three years old.
Taking care of your baby’s teeth:
We have to start early; by the child’s first birthday. We also know that if you or other family members have poor oral health, your child is more at risk. Until children are old enough to form their own routine, you can do a number of things to help them and teach them good oral care habits:
- First dental visit: As soon as the first tooth appears!
- Limit the child’s sugar intake. At around 8-9 months, replace one bottle with a ‘sippy’ cup. If you put your baby to bed with a bottle, make it water, not milk, so as to ward off ‘bottle caries’.
- Usually, ensuring they drink enough water will give them adequate fluoride.
- Teething: When your baby is teething, offer him or her something cold to chew on, and gently rub the gums with a clean, moistened cloth.
- Thumb sucking: Not really a problem until after the age of 3 years old. It is completely normal for a child to suck its thumb for the first few years.
- Teeth/gum cleaning: Clean gums and teeth gently with a clean soft cloth or childrens tooth brush. Use a very thin smear of toothpaste on the brush.
It’s important for the overall health of your child that you establish healthy habits early. We want to create a great relationship with your child from the start, so they’ll learn and follow good oral health without fear.
For the first examination, we usually encourage you to keep your child on your lap so the child feels safe and comfortable.
Taking care of your young child’s teeth
Tooth decay in young children is a serious dental condition, with nearly 50% of children having decay at the age of 6. However, you can help your child keep his or her teeth long enough for the tooth fairy to come naturally.
Limit the child’s sugar intake (including soft drinks, juices, lollies and so on).
- Usually, ensuring they drink enough water will give them adequate fluoride. (See the Australia Dental Association policy on fluoride)
- Brushing: Teach your child how to brush (and help them brush until they are 8 or so).
- Thumb or dummy sucking: Once all the child’s teeth are through, it’s a good time to encourage your child to stop the practice. Thumb or dummy sucking can push teeth out of alignment. Generally, a program of positive reinforcement will help your child stop.
- Signs of decay: Get a copy of the ‘Lift the lip’ brochure from our surgery. Only your dentist can tell for sure but early signs are sensitivity to hot and cold or sweet foods or drinks. At this stage, we can stop the decay without drilling.
Between school, sports, friends, shopping and texting, there isn’t much time left to think about their teeth. And let’s not mention their preferred diet of junk food and sweet drinks.
They also find it hard to listen to or understand your requests.
Here are a few tips to help your child get through the teen years cavity-free:
- Appeal to their vanity. Explain to your child that bad oral hygiene can lead to stains, bad breath (halitosis) and missing teeth.
- Set a good example. If you take good care of your teeth, your teenager will see that good oral hygiene is important to you. Encourage brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily.
- If your teen has braces, make sure he or she brushes well around the braces, using floss to remove all food particles. Remember: Their risk of decay is higher while the braces are on. We recommend cleaning every 3 months during orthodontic treatment.
- Keep lots of fruits and vegetables in the house for snacking. (Limit the amount of junk food available and discourage ‘grazing’.)
- Encourage your teen to wear a mouthguard when playing sport.
- Consider having sealants applied to your child’s teeth. Sealants are made of plastic and are bonded to the teeth. Sealants give the highest level of protection for vulnerable back teeth and their deep grooves.
The Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) commenced on 1 January 2014 and provides access to basic dental services to around 3.4 million children aged 2-17 years. It replaces the existing Medicare Teen Dental Plan (MTDP). Your child may be eligible to receive up to $1000 over 2 years in benefits.
Read more about the Child Dental Benefits Schedule here.
ORAL HEALTH THERAPY:
At Paul Beath Dental we have a passionate team of Hygienists and Oral Health Therapists that will look after your childrens teeth.
Both are university trained and qualified to diagnose and treat tooth decay as well as provide preventative maintenance and help guide you in the right direction to ensure that your children have their teeth for life.
Meet our Hygiene Oral Therapy team here