When should your baby first visit the dentist?
Your baby should visit the dentist when they cut their first tooth or when they turn one year old, which ever comes first.
Many parents don't know that emerging baby teeth need to be looked after as carefully as we look after our own teeth.
Milk teeth are used for chewing and speaking, they help proper jaw development, and reserve the spaces for the permanent teeth to come through later.
Some parents think dental care when their children have their first set of teeth is not as important because they will get another set of teeth. This is not the case decay in your child's baby teeth can lead to a decay in their permanent teeth so it is important to start your child's dental health care from the start.
A condition called nursing caries (decay in baby teeth) can result from allowing baby to suck on a bottle of milk or sweetened juice for long periods during the day, or last thing at night.
How to care for baby's teeth:
Start cleaning when teeth appear. Gently wipe with a clean damp cloth at bath time.
Progress to a small soft bristle toothbrush with water. There are special brushes available for babies, you don't need tooth paste.
Hold baby sitting against you facing the bathroom mirror so they can see their teeth being cleaned.
Let baby play with their toothbrush while they watch you brush your teeth.
Limit amount of sugary foods and drinks in their diet.
What will the dentist look for?
The number of baby teeth and their spacing and placement
How effectively teeth are being cleaned and suggest ways to improve this if needed.
Any changes in colour, or spotting of teeth that could signify early decay. About 1 in 5 children have a type of decay called 'nursing caries', often related to dietary and feeding habits such as a night time bottle.
At Butler Dental we know that being a parent is difficult job so we are not judgemental, we aim to teach you how to look after your babies teeth and support you during regular dental checkups. It is best to start early and visit your dentist regularly so your child will have a positive view of the dentist and develop heathy oral care habits that will last them a lifetime.
How long do baby teeth last?
The front teeth will last until age of 5 - 7. The back molars will last until about 12 years of age.
Your Attitude Is Important
Be relaxed with your children when talking about the dentist. Be careful not to use any negative words, and be sure not to pass on any feelings of fear or anxiety which you might have. Your positive attitude can help a lot. After all, going to the dentist these days can be lots of fun!
We suggest watching this Peppa Pig Video with your child before visiting the dentist and let them know you are looking forward to the trip too.
Caring for child's teeth as they grow
- Help your children brush their teeth twice a day. They need your help until they're about 6 years old, and have the manual skills to do a proper job themselves.
- When brushing, use a special children's toothbrush, small with extra soft bristles.
- Always use gentle pressure, as brushing too hard can damage the gums.
- Teach them how to rinse and spit, so they don't swallow the toothpaste.
- Use a junior strength toothpaste (only after they learn to spit) until they're about six. This has a mild flavour, it's low foaming and lower in flouride if they swallow it by accident.
- Night time brushing is the most important, so don't be tempted to let your children have a snack or drink in bed. A bottle or glass of milk can undo all your good work.
- Try not to give too many snacks between meals - and when you do, encourage savoury ones, like fruit and raw vegetables.
- Water is best for children. If you serve fruit juice or cordial on occasion (not as a substitute for water) it is best to give it well diluted. It is also good to give it with some food rather than by itself, because the saliva produced from chewing will help to get rid of the sugar and neutralize the acids causing decay.
Read our article on how to reduce the acid attack and prevent tooth decay.