Taking care of your toddler’s teeth
It’s never too early to start good oral hygiene.
Your young kids rely on you (for the time being anyway) to make the most important decisions of their little lives: what to eat, where to sleep, when to bath – all of which are in their best interests. But what about their dental health? From the very beginning, your little one’s dental care is crucial. In fact, their first visit to the dentist should happen around the age of one. The right start to your child’s oral hygiene will help lay the groundwork for a healthier, brighter smile for years to come. If you are serious about your child’s smile, read the rest of this blog.
Why it is important
There seems to be a prevailing view that a baby’s first teeth (also known as ‘primary teeth’) are not important because they will eventually fall out in favour of a set of permanent teeth. Untrue. They reserve the correct space in the gums for the eruption of permanent teeth. Furthermore, the primary molars need to be kept until your child is between 11 and 13 years old. Losing primary teeth too early due to decay is commonly caused by the prolonged exposure to sweet foods and liquids as well as food acids.
Early checkups can prevent Early Childhood Caries (ECC), the condition where a child has missing teeth or dental fillings due to decay. Failure to seek the necessary treatment can result in infection, toothache and abscesses. Infants with healthy teeth chew food easily and learn to speak clearly, paving the way for the correct oral development. A child who gets into the habit of looking after their primary teeth is far more likely to look after their adult teeth – a necessity for good oral health, confidence and a brilliant smile.
Preventing ECC is a relatively easy task but does require the following:
- Daily brushing and flossing
- A balanced diet
- Low-fluoride toothpaste
- Regular visits to the dentist
The do’s and don’ts of ECC prevention
- Do clean your child’s teeth before bed.
- Do limit the amount of fruit juice he/she has because it is high in teeth-corroding sugar.
- Do teach your child to sip on water by the time they reach 12 months.
- Do start phasing out bottle-feeding at 12 months.
- Do offer a bottle of plain water if your child likes to suck on something before settling for the night.
- Don’t dip a dummy in sweet substances like honey or syrup and leave the little one to suck on it while falling asleep.
- Don’t assume that food and milk won’t build up around these little teeth; it will.
Dental care for your baby
Oral hygiene should take place before the eruption of the primary teeth. From birth, get into the habit of gently wiping your baby’s gums with a warm, moistened soft cloth after every meal. Once the primary teeth have come through, you may switch to a baby toothbrush with soft, rounded bristles.
Despite the age-old trick of taking a bite of their food to get them to eat, you must take care not to share spoons with your baby as this can transfer harmful decay-causing bacteria.
Supervision for your toddler and their teeth
Eventually, your child will reach the age where they can brush their own teeth. When the time arrives, ensure that not only do they understand the critical importance of teeth brushing, but you also supervise the process closely.
- Make sure they brush their teeth for at least two minutes to guarantee plaque removal
- While they brush their teeth, point out the areas they may have missed
- Teach your child to brush their teeth a particular way to build an effective teeth cleaning habit
- Ensure they always brush their tongue to remove decay-causing bacteria
Technique is everything
Children’s gums and teeth are still developing; care needs to be taken to ensure that brushing is gentle and thorough, not forceful. When cleaning your child’s teeth, brush gently in small circles across the front of your child’s mouth to clean the front of their teeth. In order to reach the insides, angle the tooth brush. It is vital to avoid side-to-side brushing as it can damage the teeth and gums. Always aim to brush for at least two minutes to ensure all harmful plaque and bacteria is removed.
Teeth brushing and oral care may seem like a great inconvenience to your kids, and certainly a challenge to you, however, a mutual appreciation of dental care, from an early age, will set the tone for healthy smiles in their future. All the fuss will be worth it.
For advice and dedicated dental care, contact Mint St Dental. We would love to hear from you and your little ones.