Tips for looking after baby teeth and developing good oral hygiene habits include:
- From birth – Focus on the other 10000 things you need to do and don’t think about their teeth.
- First baby tooth – Don’t stress when the first tooth comes. She will come when she is ready. Too many parents worry about the WHEN. There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ age of teething so stop comparing your child’s (lack of) teeth. For this reason we have intentionally not written an age.
- Maternal health nurses will tell you to ‘Brush once or twice a day with a moist soft cloth’ but it’s not necessary and you will have too many other more important things to do (it’s called survival). What is the absolute most helpful habit for your child’s teeth? Having a zero processed sugar diet. What’s considered sugar? Honey, dried fruit, jam, jarred fruit purees.
- When is the ideal time to take your child for their first dental visit? We recommend within 12 months of their first baby tooth coming through, or by 18 months old.
- 18 months old – Take your child for their first dental visit, regardless of how many teeth they may or may not have. The appointment is the most important one because it’s more for you, mumma, to get all your nitty gritty questions answered and to finally get some peace of mind about what we should and shouldn’t do with our child’s teeth. From here on, try taking you child to your regular dental check up and clean appointments. Role modelling helps teach your child a vital lesson in tooth care.
- The biggest and most important thing we can do for our children is to be super strict with what we feed them. This is 10000 more important than what type of toothbrush we buy for them, or what type of toothpaste we choose to use. Our food is actually more important than whether or not we brush our teeth. Diet plays the biggest role in decay prevention, especially in children.
- Many common manufactured foods and snacks contain high levels of processed sugar which can cause tooth decay and can lead to dental infections and pain. We certainly want the best for our children and we would never mean to intentionally do any harm of course. But the danger is that we can be a little ignorant with the ingredients found in a lot of food and sometimes it might be in our best interest to seek a professional’s advice, such as a children’s nutritionist (or a dentist).
- 18 months or when their back molars have come through – Add a small pea-sized amount of low fluoride or children’s toothpaste to the brush, and encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste (and not swallow or rinse) and brush twice a day.
- If you choose not to use fluoridated toothpaste, talk to your dentist about non-fluoride alternatives before buying any products. There is an active ingredient which is derived from milk protein and it’s a lovely substitute for fluoride. Your dentist should be able to recommend toothpaste with this active ingredient in it.
- Some children find the minty flavour too strong for their little palette. Your dentist should be able to recommend toothpaste with a gentler flavour.
- Two years old or when all the baby teeth have come through – Begin using an interdental brush to clean between any teeth that touch. Interdental brushes do the same thing as flossing only much, much, MUCH better. We are a little obsessed with them. Your dentist can recommend the right brand and size.
- Four to five years – Start teaching your child to brush their own teeth. but keep using the internal dental brushes to clean in between the back of your child’s teeth. Your dentist can provide you with some creative tips to making brushing fun and enjoyable. In our household playing a song while brushing seems to do the trick just fine.
- Six years old or when the first adult tooth starts to come through – This is when the back adult molars come through and the front adult teeth begin to appear. Upgrade to an adult toothpaste and continue to encourage your child to spit it out and not rinse. Start teaching your child to use interdental brushes on their own teeth. It is also worthwhile asking your dentist about getting fissure sealants done on the back molar teeth. Fissure sealants are a quick and effective treatment for reducing the risk of decay.
- Eight years – Let your child to brush and use interdental brushes unsupervised. Continue with their regular dental check-ups.
- Disclaimer: We know the title of this post said we were only going to discuss the first 5 years. 5 sounded catchier than 8.
Would you like some assistance with your child’s dental health? We are here to help. Simply call Melbourne’s experts in cosmetic dentistry on 9088 1118 to ask your dental question or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively we invite to book for a consultation with our friendly dentist 🙂
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