Oh Baby! Looking After Baby and Toddler's Teeth
How do I look after my baby's teeth? When should I bring my toddler to see the dentist?
Advice about looking after children's teeth often focuses on older children - missing out babies and toddlers. We know from experience though that children who have learned to care for their teeth at an early age are more likely to develop (and maintain) good habits as their adult teeth develop.
Because the teeth of under-fives go through different stages of development, how you look after their teeth changes too.
Toothless gums - clean gums every day
Keeping gums clean and good condition has lots of benefits :
- - Reduces the build-up of bacteria and prepares a healthier environment for new baby teeth
- - Avoids gum infection, inflammation and some of the pain associated with teething
- - Gets your baby used to "having their teeth cleaned" at an early age
The use of xylitol wipes has been shown to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth and to reduce the development of tooth decay. Parents are also said to be happier with the use of xylitol wipes compared to tooth brushing and infants' acceptance of dental wipes has also been found to be higher.
Teething - brush from the first tooth and keep teething gums clean
During teething you should try to keep gums clean - to avoid gum infection, inflammation and pain. Start cleaning new baby teeth as they appear. Many teething aids are not designed to reach back teeth nor clean gums. Many mums will be familiar with toddlers chewing on a conventional toothbrush. These can be difficult to manoeuvre and don't really clean teeth effectively.
New chewable toothbrushes have been developed to help clean both teeth and gums while providing a firm surface for teething toddlers to bite on. One study found that nursery-aged children who used a chewable toothbrush had fewer decayed teeth compared to those usng a regular toothbrush. Another study found that achewable toothbrush was as good as convential tooth aremoving plaque and had a significantly better effect on the tongue side of the tooth.
A full set of baby teeth - brush twice a day, floss once a day
Children in Britain are rarely encouraged to floss their teeth. In the US and Australia flossing is recommended once two baby teeth start to touch. Earlier introduction of flossing could help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. For children who do not or cannot floss, a new FlossBrush has been designed to help clean both the surface and between teeth.
One last thing to bear in mind is that decay causing bacteria can be passed from parents/carers to children for instance, through sharing toothbrushes or cleaning a dummy with the carers mouth. Try and avoid this if you can.
Early years toothcare encourages good oral hygiene habits and these should last a lifetime. We are always happy to see babies and toddlers - even sitting in the dentist's chair when you come for an appointment can help build positive feelings about a visist to the dentist.
Our hygienists can give advice too. Sites like Brush Baby also offer a range of products specifically for babies and toddlers.
So come and see us - we'll put a smile on your baby's face!