HEALTHY BABY TEETH Did You Know…? It is a little recognized fact that a child's dental care actually begins in the womb. This is why it is important that mothers take top quality care of themselves during pregnancy. Pregnant women should make sure they eat a well balanced diet full of nutritious foods that contain all the vitamins and minerals that their bodies may need during their pregnancy. It is also very important that pregnant women to have a complete dental exam and have any cavities or gum disease treated as soon as possible. Currently, pregnant women are still entitled to free dental care in Britain on the NHS. If you are lucky enough to have a good dental insurance plan then it is likely that you have already been advised that a visit to the dental surgery during your pregnancy would be a good idea. The Child's Developing Teeth Your child's first teeth usually begin to break through the gums from the age of about 6 months old. Every child is different and this age will vary - don't worry if your child gets his or her first teeth before or after this. Every child has 20 primary teeth making their appearance between the age of 6 months and 3 years old. These first teeth are not around for long; usually children start losing his or her milk teeth between the ages of 6 and 11 years old. Your child's molars should come through at around six years old. The last permanent teeth come out anywhere between the age of 12 and 21 years old. By the time your child is around 8 months of age your dentist should be able to tell if the child will have any dental problems with their new developing set of teeth. While only a short term view it's good to be made aware of any initial concerns should there be any in your child's near future. They are not physicians but thanks to their knowledge and expertise in the dental surgery field they are often able to make helpful suggestions. The best reason for taking your child with you when you go to the dentist is familiarization. You have a better chance of avoiding fear of dentists in your child if you take them with you to your own appointments.
When Should Your Child's Dental Care Begin? As a parent you should make a dentist's appointment for your child every six months. By the time your child is one you should be starting proactive dental care. There is still a lot that a new mother can do from the very first time your child's first tooth appears. Naturally you cannot use a tooth brush on a baby's very first teeth, nor can you use adult toothpaste either. The bristles of a toothbrush are far too hard for a small baby's gums, and the fluoride found in adult toothpastes is not good for them. There are many pros and cons relating to fluoride and although the argument on whether or not fluoride should be present in toothpaste will rage on for many years to come, it's a good idea to avoid any toothpaste containing fluoride while your child is so young. Toothpaste is essentially just the lubricant at this stage, and the best thing is to use a soft cloth to simply wipe your baby's teeth and gums. This will be enough to remove the sugars from breast milk, formula or other drinks containing sugars. Tooth decay can start at a young age due to the sugars found in foods. Simply wipe their teeth and gums after each feed and this will go a long way. It's easier for parents to introduce low-fluoride toothpaste once the child has reached about two years old. For new parents it is important to seek your dentist's advice on choosing your child's first toothbrush and first toothpaste too. A pediatric dentist should see babies with dental problems caused by injury, disease, or a developmental problem as soon as a parent is made aware of a problem. If there are dental problems which are caused by underlying issues such as poor circulation your pediatrician will make you aware of any additional treatments for you to look into. Helpful Tips 1. Try Not to Share a Spoon. - It is common for parents and caregivers to often share spoons, forks, and other utensils with their babies. The saliva you may leave on the utensil contains bacteria that can cause tooth decay. You can help prevent early childhood tooth decay by making sure that your family practices good dental health habits. If you do use your baby's spoon or test the milk from the teat of their bottle, make sure that you wipe it before giving it to them. If you keep your own teeth and gums healthy, you have less chance of transmitting any tooth decay bacteria to your kids. 2. Say No to Bottles at Bedtime.- However attractive the option sometimes, do not be tempted to put your baby to bed with a bottle - whether it be milk, juice, or any other drink containing sugars - as the acids within may cause early tooth decay. This may often be easier said than done! 3. A Healthy Diet Will Help Your Teeth. - Give your child nutritious foods to maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth decay. These include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try to avoid too many foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as pastries, white pasta, and white bread. Even the fruits that are so good for your growing child contain sugars which cause rapid tooth decay, so you will simply need to find the best balance you can. 4. How to Clean the Teeth. - A soft cloth is sufficient to clean around your baby's gums and first teeth as they start to come through. Use a very soft toothbrush and water to clean the teeth as more of them come through. 5. Fluoride Helps Develop Strong Healthy Teeth. - By the time, your baby is 1 year old; begin to use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste while brushing your child's teeth. 6. Flossing Time - You should begin flossing your child's teeth as soon as you notice their teeth beginning to touch each other. 7. On Their Own As they get older it is important to teach them how best to take care of their teeth - good dental hygiene practices now will help them keep beautiful teeth in the future. - Your child can learn how to brush his or her own teeth at about 3 years of age. By the time they are four years of age, children should be brushing their own teeth twice a day - in the morning and before bedtime. Even though they are brushing their teeth on their own, you should still watch them and make sure they are brushing their teeth the right way. Author: Dani Andrew