Oral Health Tips For New And Soon To Be Parents

The Basics

Why Are Baby Teeth Important?

Baby teeth lay the foundation for adult teeth. Decayed, missing or broken baby teeth can cause changes to the mouth structure, impacting the development of the adult teeth. Additionally, decayed or broken teeth can become infected and painful, which may also impact a child’s speech development.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay involves a bacterial infection of a tooth. Bacteria can normally be found inside the oral cavity and when the bacteria are allowed to feed on certain foods (sugary or sticky), they create an acid by-product. This acid provides bacteria a way into the tooth causing the tooth to break down and thus creating decay. If left untreated it can lead to pain, infection and even damage to the developing adult tooth.

How Do We Prevent Tooth Decay?

The best way to prevent tooth decay is diet control combined with regular oral care. This involves avoiding foods high in sugar, reducing long term exposure to baby bottles, and brushing twice a day, everyday. Do not allow your child to go to bed with a bottle filled with milk, juice or formula, as these liquids contain sugar. Instead fill your child’s bottle with water. Regular visits to the dentist is also important. Because tooth decay is a bacterial process, it is contagious. That is why it is important for all family members to maintain good oral health, in order to avoid spreading bacteria to others.

How To Care For Baby Teeth

When Should We Start Brushing and Flossing?

Brushing should start as soon as the first tooth forms in the mouth. Flossing should start as soon as two teeth touch. Toothbrushes are not able to reach between teeth, therefore, starting the habit of flossing early will benefit your child for years to come.

How Do I Brush and Floss My Child’s Teeth?

Ensure that the toothbrush is soft. Laying your child down during brushing allows you to see better and have better control. Ensure to brush all of the surfaces of the teeth and tongue. Pay special attention to where the teeth meet the gums, this is where cavities tend to start. Lift the upper and lower lips for proper access. Brushing should take at least 2 minutes.

What Sort of Toothbrush Should I Use?

There are special toothbrushes designed for baby teeth. These brushes have very small heads to allow you to reach as far as needed to brush all of your child’s teeth. Do not share toothbrushes with family members. Bacteria that are good for one person’s mouth can be harmful in another’s. Change the toothbrush every 3 months, or after an illness to prevent the spread of germs.

How Much & What Sort of Toothpaste Should I Use?

Baby: Hold the tube of fluoridated toothpaste upright and gently squeeze the paste so that it sticks just a little out of the tube. Then gently dip or glide the bristles of the brush over the paste.

Toddlers: Use a small pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste on a toddler sized toothbrush.

Other Information As Children Age

When Should We See The Dentist?

Your child should first see the dentist either when they get their first tooth or at the age of 1. After that, your child should continue having regular visits every 6 months to ensure that they get used to the office and there are no issues arising with their oral health. These regular early visits also help to build a positive relationship between your child and the dentist.

When Can My Child Start Brushing His or Her Own Teeth?

Young children do not have the dexterity to brush their own teeth, so you will need to do it for them. As they get older (6 or 7 years old), you may want to let them brush and then brush again for them. Once you see that they are able to brush all surfaces of all teeth on their own effectively, they will be ready to brush on their own.

When Do Baby Teeth Come In?

The front teeth usually erupt around 6-7 months. The first molars come in around the 1 year mark. The canines erupt around 18 months, and the second molars erupt between 2 and 3 years old. The first adult molars erupt around the 6 year mark. The times listed are general time frames, as each child is different. (The times presented should be seen as a range of plus or minus 6 months from the date listed.)

Teething and Fluoride

How Do I Help With the Discomfort of Teething?

Do not use teething cookies because they contain starch and sugar which can cause cavities in the teeth before they erupt. Allow your child to chew on a cold, clean face cloth or a clean teething ring.

What About Fluoride?

The water system in Victoria is not fluoridated. This means that children in Victoria will be more prone to tooth decay than in comparison to areas with fluoridated water. Fluoride is a safe, naturally occurring substance that makes teeth strong and more resistant to bacteria. However, too much fluoride (a full tube of toothpaste) can make a baby or young child sick. A small amount of fluoridated toothpaste is all that is needed for your child to receive the dental benefits.