A few simple steps will help your child to grow up smiling
Why are baby teeth important?
Baby teeth are important for your child to eat properly, smile, speak, and keep space for adult teeth. The back teeth need to last until high school.
What can be done to prevent tooth decay?
- Make sure you brush and floss your own teeth
- Visit the dentist before your baby is born or soon after
- Breast feeding is preferable for your baby’s nourishment
- For babies up to 12 months of age, bottle feeding should only provide breast milk, formula or water.
Is it OK to put my baby to bed with a bottle?
- Feeding your baby is vital for nutrition and good health
- Allowing your baby to have a bottle to suck on for comfort increases the risk of tooth decay by allowing the teeth to be bathed in liquid the bacteria turn into acid
- Never put your baby to bed with a bottle as this can feed decay causing bacteria for the whole sleep time
- Hold your baby while feeding the bottle, and when finished, take the bottle away.
- Try introducing a sippy cup at around 6 months
- Wean baby off the bottle by 12months. This will help discourage the habit of prolonged comfort feeding
- The bottle should not be used as a pacifier alone. Better to use cuddles and favourite toys
Use of a Dummy
- Babies will often use sucking for comfort eg fingers or thumbs or a pacifier (dummy). This is a natural reflex.
- If a pacifier is used, never put anything on the dummy eg honey
- Never clean a dummy in your mouth
- If your child sucks their thumb or finger, this is normal for a baby or toddler. Try to gently discourage the habit by age 3, and certainly by the time the adult teeth start to come through at age 5
Feeding your child
- Children should drink milk or water.
- Do not put flavourings in milk
- Avoid juice which is just a sugary drink
- Juice, cordial or soft drink should never be given in a bottle
- Children do not need extra sugar for energy
Cleaning your child’s teeth
- Teeth should be brushed from when they first appear
- Use a small soft brush and a smear of low fluoride toothpaste
- Often children will not be cooperative but it is important to be gently persistent
- Show your child that you brush too.
- A parent needs to brush until the child is at least 8 years old
Take your child to the dentist by 12 months of age.
- This is to familiarize the child with the dentist and dental procedures
- Early visits at a young age build confidence and coping skills that will help your child if they later need some dental treatment.
- Children who only go to the dentist when there is something wrong are often very frightened
- Get into the habit of looking at your child’s teeth so you will notice any changes. Look for colour changes. White or brown marks along the gum or in between teeth may be decay which should be checked by your dentist. White spots are often the first stages of decay