Many people say you should take your child to see the dentist on their first birthday, at Spires we don’t think this is necessary as if you look after your children’s teeth with our easy steps, you won’t need to visit the dentist until your child is older. We recommend bringing your child when they will actually allow us to have a look- about 2-4 years of age.
So, in the meantime, how should you be caring for your child’s teeth?…
From the age of about 6 months your baby will start teething and will have around 20 baby teeth by the age of 3 years old. Milk teeth play an important role as they hold space for the second teeth. The enamel on baby teeth is thin and is more likely to decay and erode especially if they are exposed to sugar or acidic drinks too often.
When should you start cleaning your baby’s teeth?
You should start as soon as your baby’s first teeth start to come through. At first you will not be able to clean them too well but please remember the aim of cleaning is to apply fluoride to the teeth to help strengthen them. You will not be able to remove all the plaque effectively till they are a little older, maybe 12-24 months.
Remember it is not the cleaning that prevents tooth decay; avoiding sugar is the single most important thing.
Cleaning from such a young age morning and night gets your baby into a routine. The important thing is to get your baby used to brushing their teeth as part of their daily routine. Why not set a good example and let them see you brushing your own teeth.
What do I use to clean my baby’s teeth?
To begin with you may only be able to use a small soft baby toothbrush. Personally I found that cleaning my children’s teeth was very difficult so I started to use an ORAL B electric toothbrush when my children were 18-24 months. The ORAL B invariably cleans more effectively and is much easier to use.
It is highly recommended to use a child specific toothpaste as they contain less concentration of fluoride, reducing the chance that your child will mottle their adult teeth by ingesting too much of the toothpaste.
Why is fluoride recommended?
Fluoride strengthens the enamel of our adult and baby teeth making them more resistant to tooth decay. Fluoride can occur naturally in some water supplies within the country, and it has been added to other parts of the country where it doesn’t occur naturally to help prevent dental decay. Research has shown that there is less decay in children’s teeth where fluoride is found in the water.
It is also important to brush your child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, and it is important to not rinse your child’s mouth after brushing as this will wash away the fluoride.
Sadly Fluoride can lead to brown and white mottling of the developing adult teeth if children ingest too much toothpaste. To this end it is important that you only place a smear of tooth paste on your child’s tooth brush as children cannot spit out effectively till they are 6 years of age. We recommend you oversee their cleaning sessions until they are 7 years of age and place the toothpaste on the brush yourself to make sure they aren’t using too much.
Early food and drink
The early weeks of your baby’s life is more straightforward with milk being the sole source of food. Once your baby starts on solids it is important to try and keep food to meal times plus it is important to avoid giving your child any food or drink except for water in the hour before bed. Avoid as much as possible food and drink that contain sugar this includes dried fruit such as raisins.
Ultimately you need to keep your child away from sugar as much as possible, but especially in-between meals.
Brushing tips for babies
- Use a tiny flat smear of toothpaste for babies and toddlers up to three years old, and a pea-sized amount for children aged three to six years.
- Brush their teeth twice a day: just before bed and in the morning
- If your child doesn’t like having their teeth brushed, just keep trying. Make it into a game, or brush your own teeth at the same time and then help your child finish their own.
- The easiest way to brush a baby’s teeth is to sit them on your knee, with their head resting against your chest.
- Brush the teeth in small circles, covering all the surfaces, and encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out afterwards. Remember don’t rinse as this will wash away the fluoride.
- Supervise brushing to make sure your child gets the right amount of toothpaste and they are not eating or licking toothpaste from the tube.
- Carry on helping your child brush their teeth until you’re sure they can do it well enough themselves. This will normally be until they’re at least seven.
Also have a read of our blog: How to prevent tooth decay in children