Are you worried about your child’s teeth and oral hygiene? Are you unsure if you’re doing enough to give them those strong, beautiful pearly whites? Here are some tips on how to look after your kids’ teeth at home:
- Good dental care should begin before your baby’s first tooth appears, as teeth start to develop during mum’s second trimester of pregnancy.
- Ensure that the expecting mum is sustaining a healthy diet, with plenty of calcium, vitamins and nutrients. Check with your doctor if any antibiotics that are taken are safe for the baby and their developing teeth, as they can cause tooth discolouration and weak enamel.
- Once the baby is born start getting into the habit of wiping the gums with a clean, wet washcloth daily to remove any harmful bacteria.
- Once teeth start to erupt either wipe them with a washcloth or start using an infant toothbrush twice a day. This can be introduced in the bath so your baby can start ‘chewing’ on it and gets used to the brush quickly. You can also start introducing a little ‘rice grain’ drop of baby toothpaste. Squash it into the brush bristles so it is not swallowed by your baby.
- Never put your baby to sleep with a milk bottle or juice/sweetened drinks – this is a sure way to cause decay. If milk is a nightly comforter slowly start diluting it with water until there is only water in the bottle.
- Between 1-2 years of age is a good time for that first dental visit so your dentist can check the developing, erupting teeth to ensure all is ok. This will also ensure that your child gets used to the regular dental visits early on and it becomes a habit rather than a chore or something to be scared of. The first couple of appointments may be just sitting in a parent’s lap, riding in the dental chair and having a look with a dental mirror to count the teeth – whatever the child is comfortable with!
- Between the ages of 2-3 kids learn to spit, so toothpaste amount can be increased to a pea-size drop. Always use age-appropriate toothpaste as it ensures the right concentration of Fluoride is used to strengthen and protect the developing teeth.
- Once teeth start to touch introduce flossing – kids may find it easier to use little floss holders/’forks’ rather than maneuvering a piece of floss wound around the fingers (many adults prefer this too!)
- Supervise and help your child to brush until they are around 8 years old to ensure all teeth and all their surfaces are cleaned well and nothing is missed.
- Stick to a good healthy diet, avoiding sweet, sticky, flavoured snacks, lollies, gummy vitamins, muesli bars, dried fruit and sugary drinks. Ensure they consume plenty of dairy, fresh fruit and veggies.
- Ensure they drink lots of water – tap or boiled is best as it has the added Fluoride to prevent tooth decay. Remember that most bottled waters and filters will remove fluoride, meaning your child will be missing out on its benefits.
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