Keeping your baby and young children’s teeth healthy

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Before first teeth appear

Baby teeth begin forming before birth. A well balanced diet during pregnancy, providing all the nutrients your body needs, is necessary for the development of baby’s healthy teeth.

Once born, you should check your baby’s mouth from time to time to check everything seems normal, even before their first tooth appears.

Taking care of young teeth

  • Baby teeth are important to your child’s future dental health, providing space for the permanent teeth, aiding speech development and allowing normal development of the jawbones and muscles
  • These teeth can develop holes from the time they begin to appear (usually between 6-10 months of age)
  • Parents should be responsible for cleaning your child’s teeth during their early years, and for checking teeth are cleaned regularly and properly throughout childhood.
  • Starting early with good, regular dental care at home is important – developing good habits that will continue once they can brush on their own.

First visit to the dentist

  • We recommend you bring your child with you to your regular dental check-ups, as their first introduction to the dental environment
  • We will encourage your child to explore, touch and hear the different sounds and sights in a dental surgery. When ready, they will have their first ‘ride’ on the chair.
  • A gradual, friendly introduction to the dentist leaves a positive impression with your child, and they are less likely to have issues visiting the dentist later on.

Tips for preventing tooth decay

Some children are more prone to tooth decay than others, but this can be managed and the problems decay may cause to their permanent teeth can be mitigated with regular screening, diet and hygiene advice. Other tips for preventing decay include:

  • Regular visits to the dentist
  • A good oral care routine at home, including brushing twice a day
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste twice daily. Fluoride combines with tooth enamel to make the tooth more resistant to decay, and can reduce it by up to 50%.
  • Only give juice or fizzy drinks with meals or snacks. It’s best to stick to milk or water at other times
  • Encourage your child to consume drinks as quickly as possible, rather than sipping over a long period, using a straw for fizzy drinks
  • Limit sweet-eating to straight after meals, when the extra saliva created by chewing will help to protect the teeth.

If decay is present, baby teeth can be filled to limit the decay and stop any pain. Fissure sealing can also benefit children who are more susceptible to tooth decay. This involves putting a plastic coating on the permanent molars and can be particularly useful for teeth with deep grooves, which cannot be reached by a toothbrush.

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