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May 18, 2016

Top Ten Dental Tips to help prevent tooth decay in your child

1) The importance of diet

Avoiding giving your baby or young child unnecessary sugars is a good way to establish healthy eating patterns to protect your child’s teeth for life.

  • Milk and water are the only drinks you should put in your baby’s bottle.
  • Don’t give your child sugary drinks in bottles or pacifiers (dummies) dipped in a sugary substance
  • Introduce your baby to a feeding cup as soon as possible.
  • Fruit juice given to your child, should be diluted (1 part juice to 10 parts water) and given in a cup.
  • Restrict juices to mealtimes only.
  • If your child tends to snack between meals, remember that cheese is a very tooth friendly food- avoid sweets, cakes and biscuits.

Develop the habit of visiting the dentist as soon as the first teeth come through.

2) The importance of cleaning teeth

Plaque will start to form on your child’s teeth and gums as soon as the first tooth appears (erupts). It is very important to begin a suitable tooth brushing routine as soon as possible. The brushing routine that you establish with your child at an early age should continue throughout their life.

Use a toothbrush that is appropriate for your child’s age and stage of tooth development.
A small- headed soft brush should be used as soon as the first tooth erupts.
Character toothbrushes are an excellent way to make brushing fun for children.
A small smear of a children’s fluoridated toothpaste should be used on the brush.
As your child gets older a slightly larger brush with medium bristles may be used.

3) The importance of fluoride

Fluoride occurs naturally, at some level in the water in most areas and helps to prevent tooth decay when at the optimum concentration. Fluoride is present in most toothpaste but special children’s toothpastes are better for babies and infants because the amount of fluoride is controlled specifically for their needs.

The amount of fluoride in your area water supply can be found out by contacting the Local Water Authority.

Fluoride supplements come in tablet form and may be prescribed by your dentist if active decay is identified during routine dental examinations.
A varnish can be applied by your dentist or hygienist in the surgery.
Although fluoride is a valuable protective agent, like many things it is important to have just the right amount, not too mush or too little. To avoid excess fluoride from toothpastes, children under six years should be supervised when tooth brushing and only use a small smear of toothpaste.
Children over seven years can use family fluoride toothpaste but only a pea size amount on their brush.

4) Nursing Bottle Caries

Nursing bottle caries (or Baby bottle caries) is the pattern of tooth decay that occurs in the teeth of infants and preschoolers, due to the nursing of a bottle containing a sugary beverage either frequently or for prolonged periods of time (such as while napping or sleeping at night).

5) Children’s drinks

Fizzy drinks (whether diet or regular), artificial fruit squashes, cocoa and milk shakes can all cause harm to teeth. The sugar in them can lead to decay whilst the acid in both normal and diet drinks attacks the enamel covering the teeth (this is called erosion).

  • Try to get your child to drink only milk or water between meals
  • Dilute drinks, when applicable, as much as possible
  • Give sugary drinks at meal times only
  • Limit fizzy drinks to treats for special occasions only
  • After brushing teeth before bedtime, only let your child drink water.
  • Liquid medicines – always try and get sugar free formulas from the pharmacist

6) Visiting the dentist

It is good idea to get babies and young children used to the idea of having dental examinations by taking them along with you to the dentist when you have your own dental check-ups.
Dental visits by infants should begin at 18 months if only to become familiar with the dentist and to have a ‘ride’ in the dental chair. Once confidence is gained by two years of age it will be possible to examine the deciduous teeth, which should all be present.

While for the majority of children the teeth will develop normally, for some children there are variations in the numbers of teeth, their size, colour and shape. If you have any concerns about your child’s teeth, you should consult your dentist as soon as possible.

Written by Ten Dental


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