Your child’s first or milk teeth usually start to push through their gums at around 6 months of age. Some babies suffer from sore and tender gums while teething. Gently massaging their gums with a clean finger or the use of a teething ring may be helpful. By the time your child is 3 years old, their full set of 20 baby teeth have usually emerged.
Caring For Your Child’s Teeth:
Children younger than 18 months should have their teeth cleaned with a soft toothbrush, but with NO toothpaste. For children between the age of 18 months and 6 years a children’s fluoride toothpaste should be used under adult supervision. Children should spit out and not swallow the toothpaste. They should not rinse out afterwards. It is important to help with brushing up to the age of 6, as children do not have the manual dexterity to brush correctly by themselves. It is also advisable to encourage brushing morning and evening. Floss your child’s teeth as soon as the spaces close between the teeth.
Fluoride supplements in the form of drops or tablets are not recommended.
Dental Caries (Tooth Decay):
Holes can form in your child’s teeth as soon as they appear. This could result in causing your child pain and damage to their erupting adult teeth. One serious form of decay is “bottle caries” which can occur in infants when they are allowed to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice or sweetened liquids.
If you must give a baby a bottle at bedtime it should only contain water.
To reduce the risk of dental decay in your child’s teeth it is important to limit sugary snacks and sweet drinks. If eaten, sweet treats should be limited to meal times only. Select foods from the five food groups for a balanced diet when a snack is needed.
A fissure sealant is a plastic material applied to the chewing surfaces of newly erupted permanent back teeth where decay is common. Pits and fissures are grooves in the chewing surfaces of the teeth that are difficult to keep clean. The sealant protects the teeth by covering these fissures and keeping out plaque and food.
A professional fluoride application may be recommended for your child if they are at a risk of developing dental caries.
Regular dental checkups are important to maintain a healthy smile. It is advised that your child visits the dentist from an early age (approximately 12 months old) to monitor your child’s dental health and development.