Babies and toddlers are at just as much risk of dental decay as an older child or adult, so caring for your baby’s teeth needs to begin at birth. By establishing good oral hygiene habits early, your child will be well equipped to have healthy teeth for life.
How to brush your baby’s teeth
Once your baby’s primary teeth start to appear, you should use a toothbrush specially designed for babies, with a small head and soft, rounded bristles to gently massage their teeth and gums. Up to the age of 18 months, your baby’s teeth should be brushed with plain water, once a day after the last feed in the evening.
When should you introduce toothpaste?
There are special low-fluoride toothpastes that have been developed for young children. These can be introduced from around the age of 18 months. Only a smear of toothpaste is needed, and encourage your child to spit out the excess toothpaste.
Learning to brush
During their third year, introduce brushing teeth twice a day – in the morning after their breakfast and in the evening just before bed. From around the age of four to five children should begin to learn how to brush and care for their own teeth, however it should be a combined effort by you and your child until around the age of eight.
Move the toothbrush gently in small circles to clean the front surfaces of your child’s teeth. To reach inner surfaces, tilt the toothbrush. Avoid side-to-side scrubbing, which can damage your child’s teeth and gums. Brush the biting and grinding surfaces of back teeth with a firm back and forth motion, and be sure to clean every surface of every tooth.
How long should you brush your child’s teeth for?
The time taken to brush can be increased slowly until the baby is able to tolerate a two minute brushing as a toddler. It will take time for your child to allow you to clean their teeth for that length of time, however it’s important that their teeth are brushed twice a day.
Should you floss your baby’s teeth?
Yes, but wait until your child is about two and a half years old. Flossing helps remove decay causing bacteria from between their teeth and keeps their gums healthy. It will take time for your child to get used to having their teeth flossed, however, ideally their teeth should be flossed twice a week in areas where the teeth are touching.
If you find flossing your child’s teeth difficult, ask your dentist to show you how to do it. Floss holders are available, which can make flossing easier for some children.
Did you know?
Plaque-disclosing tablets or drops (available from your dentist or pharmacist) contain food dye that turns plaque pink or red. Using these can be a fun way to help you and your child to see if the brushing technique you are using removes plaque from every tooth surface.
If your toddler resists teeth cleaning or struggles to sit still for two minutes, try these suggestions:
When should your child’s first visit to the dentist be?
Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be within six months of the eruption of their first tooth, or by their first birthday. We love having kids in our practice and they love having a ‘ride’ in the chair.
What to do about Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom Teeth usually erupt in late teens and early twenties. Some may erupt uneventfully and become functional molars, but often there is not enough space at the back of the jaw for wisdom teeth to grow without pain or problems. These problems include ulcers, infections, cavities and pain. Therefore it is best to remove these impacted wisdom teeth as early as possible.
The procedure is common and simple, and if the teeth are placed in a difficult position in the mouth the dentist may refer to the oral surgeon (specialist in surgery of the teeth gums and jaws) to ensure it is as comfortable as possible.
Keep up the Good Work
It’s important to maintain good tooth care habits as you reach adulthood. This means blushing and flossing, regular visits to the hygienist and limited consumption of sugary drinks – especially fruit juices and sports drinks.
If you really want your teeth to shine bright, whether for your deb, formal or simply to have a memorable smile, we offer in-chair tooth whitening that can lighten your teeth in just 2 hours.
Beware Internet Scams
Online ‘bargains’ such as charcoal toothpastes and home bleaching devices can be dangerous. Legally, medicaments and devices that will actually make a different to the whiteness and the health of your teeth have a high concentration of an active chemical – which means that they have to be issued by a dental professional.
In other words, paying money for online products is a health risk and a waste of your hard-earned money! Talk to us to see if we can offer you the same treatment at value for money.