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Dental health advice for you babies teeth at Spires Dental Clinic in Lichfield Staffordshire

Caring For Your Babies Teeth

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?…

Milk 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

 

How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children

A survey by Public Health England has revealed that one in ten three-year-olds have tooth decay. Toddlers had an average of three teeth that were decayed, missing or filled.

There are some simple steps that parents can follow to prevent this:

  • Avoid sugary drinks and snacks – The British Nutrition Foundation advices that foods and drinks containing sugar should be kept to mealtimes only. The more often your toddler has sugary foods or drinks, the more likely they are to get tooth decay. As a dentist, I recommend that children should have sugar-containing foods and drinks no more than four times a day.
  • What are good snacks – snacks such as fruit and raw vegetables, including tangerines, bananas, pieces of cucumber or carrot sticks. Other good snacks include toast, rice cakes and plain popcorn. Plus, limit the sugary drinks, water and milk are the best drinks for toddlers.
  • Brush teeth twice a day – Thorough brushing for two minutes, twice a day, once before bed, will help to prevent tooth decay using a small pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. As a dentist, I advise that you should start brushing children’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears and supervise their tooth brushing until they are seven or eight years old.
  • Regular dental check-ups – we offer free children’s dental check-ups for existing patients. Children’s examinations are held on a Monday during school half term in Feb, July & October. The next one scheduled is 31st July so call our reception and get your child booked in for a quick check up.

This is what I advise for children’s teeth

There are three main things that we feel are very important when taking care of your children’s teeth:

  1. AVOID SUGAR IN BETWEEN MEALS – the single most important thing that you need to do is train your children, and their guardians, that sugar in between meals will ALWAYS rot/decay the child’s teeth.  The quantity is not relevant, it is the frequency of exposure of sugar that matters.  Our advice is simple- only allow your children to have sugar with one of their three meals a day.  Simple J.
  1. FLUORIDE IS AWESOME –  We advise that fluoride is used twice a day via an age appropriate children’s tooth paste.  Only small amounts are required so we recommend dipping the toothbrush into the toothpaste itself.  If the child eats too much toothpaste they may end up with Fluorosis (white/brown mottling on their adult teeth).
  1. USE AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH –  Cleaning your own teeth is hard, cleaning someone else’s is even harder.  Now try it on a 2-year-old.  It therefore makes sense to use the best tool we have to clean the teeth and that is an electric toothbrush.  Sometimes it’s easier to start with a child’s battery powered toothbrush but we advise moving up to a rechargeable brush as soon as you can.

Obviously it is also important to allow us to see your child for a dental examination at least once a year so we can ensure you are doing the right things and that the teeth are developing normally.

Call us today on 01543 411 088 if you would like to receive further advice and achieve better dental health for your children in Lichfield and Staffordshire.