Here are some commonly asked questions and answers on the best baby teeth care.
The first sign of a tooth erupting through the gums (usually 5-9months of age) is your cue to start cleaning their gums and teeth.
Start with a soft moist cloth and gently rub this over the gums. As soon as you think they would tolerate a tooth brush in their mouth, use a soft bristled and compact head toothbrush. A toothbrush should be changed regularly, around every 3 months or when signs of “shagginess” start to appear.
TIP – Buy two brushes, one for you and one for baby, and take turns at brushing.
There are many reasons why it is important to maintain healthy ‘first’ teeth. Without them their speech would be affected, they would be unable to eat a healthy range of foods and they wouldn’t have that gorgeous smile. First teeth also keep the spaces correct for when their second teeth (adult teeth) descend.
The Australian Dental Association recommends that you wait until your child is 18 months old before you introduce toothpaste. Even then it is recommended that you use a very small smear of children’s toothpaste. These have a reduced level of fluoride and higher level of calcium specially formulated for young teeth.
The Australian Dental Association recommends visiting the dentist once a baby’s first tooth comes through, or when the child is 1, whichever comes first. Ideally it would be around the time of their first birthday, and definitely before they turn 3. At this visit the Dentist will assess the alignment of your child’s jaw, check any teeth that are already through for signs of decay and offer you some guidance on how to best care for their teeth.
See the Australian Dental Association for more information.
Prepare your child for a visit to the Dentist or dental clinic by reading books about the Dentist or role playing the “Dentist game” with teddy or dolls. Explain how some Dentists like to wear masks over their mouths, also teach your child how to open their mouth wide like a frog so that the Dentist can have a look inside. Remember not to use any negative words when talking about the visit like “scared”, “needle”, “hurt” or “drill”. These tend to turn adults off as well so imagine how much they scare kids.
Some suggested titles include:
“Bottle Mouth” is the term used to describe the decay caused, usually to the front teeth, by acid that attacks teeth. This starts after prolonged contact with any liquid other than water. As the term suggests, it usually occurs when babies and children are allowed to drink for long periods of time from a bottle. This can happen when they are allowed to go to bed with a bottle etc. However, it is not limited to bottles as breastfed babies who are allowed to suckle for extended periods of time can also develop this decay.
To avoid this decay from developing try following these simple guidelines:
Avoid any foods that are high in sugar, especially those that are held in the mouth for a long time, for example sweets, lollies, candy, toffees and also soft drinks and juices from a bottle with a teat. Chewable Vitamin C tablets have also been identified as particularly bad for healthy teeth.
Some healthy foods such as dried fruit also contain high levels of sugar and children should be encouraged to rinse their mouths after eating these foods.
Certainly if thumb sucking occurs past the time when a child has their permanent teeth there is a real possibility that it could lead to your child having an open bite, flared teeth and possible changes to the upper jaw.
The Australian Dental Association suggests these guidelines for maintaining healthy teeth:
Fluoride is certainly an important part of maintaining healthy teeth, however before supplementing with fluoride you should talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.
Some of the tell tale signs that teeth are on there way are:
To relieve this discomfort it is possible to use paracetamol, a non-aspirin based teething gel, and allow your baby to suck/chew on a cold teething ring.
Many Mums will report that their baby has suffered from one or all of the following symptoms around the time of teeth erupting from the gums; nappy rash, mild fever, mild diarrhoea, pain and irritability. However, there is no conclusive evidence that these are related to “teething”. You should not assume that teething is the cause of illness and you should seek medical advice.
Generally by the age of 5 your child will be quite adept at brushing their own teeth, however it is recommended that you continue to assist and monitor their brushing until around 7-8 years of age.
Your baby’s teeth will usually, although not always, appear in this order:
Your child will probably have all his first teeth, also known as baby teeth, milk teeth, deciduous teeth, or primary teeth around two and a half years of age.
Unfortunately, dental care is not generally covered by Medicare; however you may be able to make a claim through your private health insurance. There is also the Federal Government’s Child Dental Benefits Schedule which covers up to $1000 in dental expenses for children aged 2-17 years. See the website for services covered.
In NZ, dental care is free for children until their 18th birthday. See the New Zealand Dental Association website for further information.