Caring For Baby Teeth
Early years care – critical for the development of healthy teeth.
In a recent blog, we looked at what you, as parents, can do to help your young children have healthy teeth when they start back to school.
It is worth remembering though, that having a healthy mouth starts with good oral care starting even earlier on in life. From the moment we are born, the risk of oral health problems are there.
At least up to the point where our children start school (and probably a few years beyond), we are largely in control of how well they look after their teeth. Although we might encourage them to start to take some of the responsibility themselves, it is important that we supervise this so that they develop good teeth cleaning habits.
Although some parents have started to take better notice of their young children’s teeth and gums, with a reduction in the number of extractions needed being reduced by 8% since 2014, there were still over 21,000 extractions carried out on children last year. That is 21,000 too many!
In today’s Clock Tower Dental Clinic blog, your local Epsom dental team takes a look at some ways that you can help your very young children have healthy teeth and gums.
Clean the gums from a very early age
Even before a baby’s teeth come through, you should take care to clean their gums. This can be done just using water and a soft damp clean cloth. Do not use toothpaste at this stage as their gums may still be sensitive. This simple action will help to remove some of the potentially problematic oral bacteria and food debris from the mouth.
Their first toothbrush
When young children’s teeth first erupt, you should start to brush their teeth for them. Make sure to use a very soft toothbrush and just a small smear of toothpaste. Although this should increase to an amount the size of a pea as they get older, too much fluoride is potentially harmful to very young children and the tiniest amount should be used. This small amount will also allow them to become accustomed to the taste of toothpaste in their mouth.
Watch the sugar intake!
Most of us are now conscious about the health risks of too much sugar, both for obesity and tooth decay. Despite this, although we may watch what they eat, many parents still put sugary drinks in a baby’s bottle, or dip their dummy/pacifier in a sweet liquid. Sometimes this is innocently done, such as putting in fruit juice. Logic may say that fruit is healthy, but it also contains large quantities of sugar as well as acids that can be harmful to young teeth. There have even been tales of parents adding milk shake and even coca cola! However much this may sooth a young child who is crying, please don’t do it. This is really bad for their teeth!
This is one of the most important aspects of a child’s oral health care. If you don’t brush their teeth for them, you should at least strictly supervise them doing it. Children get tired quickly and, left to their own devices, are likely to give their teeth the quickest of brushes. After a day of eating and drinking, it is important that their teeth have a good clean before bedtime.
You should also make sure that once they have cleaned their teeth before bedtime, they don’t eat or drink anything at all other than water. Even a small drink of milk will coat their teeth with sugar whilst they sleep.
Seek professional dental care from a young age
It isn’t unusual for children not to see a dentist for the first time until they start primary school. This is too late really, and whilst it is better then than even later, a child should first see a dentist at around a year old. Even though teeth may not yet be fully developed, early assessment is beneficial so that any potential problems can be observed and appropriate treatment planned. This early visit will also help to accustom them to the surgery surroundings and hopefully help them to avoid anxiety around visits in the future.
Good oral care during the early years not only means that you are much less likely to see your child in pain with toothache, but will help their future tooth development. Whilst baby teeth do eventually fall out, they act as placeholders for the adult teeth beneath them and are also important in other areas such as speech development.
At the Clock Tower Dental Clinic, we see patients of all ages, from the very young to the very old. Whatever your age, professional care from our dentists and hygienists is a great way to keep your mouth healthy. If you would like to make an appointment at our Epsom dental clinic, you can do so by calling us on 01372 720136. Our team is on hand to take your call and we look forward to meeting you!