Paediatric Dental Care
Your child’s first teeth (baby or primary teeth) will start to appear at around six months. It is important to look after these teeth as they allow your child to bite and chew food, and maintain space for the permanent teeth to erupt correctly. Dental care can start at birth as you can wipe the gums with a clean, moistened face washer after every feed if required. When the teeth start to appear, you can use a baby toothbrush and water to clean the teeth. A low fluoridated toothpaste (children’s toothpaste) is recommended for children 2 years and older.
Helpful hints to improve your child’s oral hygiene:
- Every toddler is different and your approach to cleaning your toddler’s teeth is usually by trial and error. Sitting down on the floor or a bed and having your toddler on your lap facing up will give you the best access. Try singing a nursery rhyme or counting out loud whilst you are brushing their teeth.
- Set a timer for at least two minutes. Most children brush for a minute or less, which is not long enough to remove plaque.
- Brush together and set an example.
- While watching your child brush, point out any missed areas. Children usually forget to brush molars and the inner tooth surfaces that face the tongue.
- Teach your child to brush teeth in a particular order to ensure cleaning of every tooth surface.
- Show your child how you floss your own teeth early on. This will expose him/her to flossing and will become a part of daily oral hygiene later on.
Good nutrition and oral hygiene is important for oral health.
Some points to remember:
- At least twice daily brushing after breakfast and dinner. DO NOT ALLOW your child to go to bed at night time without brushing their teeth.
- Lower your child’s sugar intake and limit to meal time
- Avoid frequent snacking between meals
- Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day early on. This should be your child’s main source of hydration which will act to balance oral pH and wash away and help neutralise plaque.
- Cordials and soft drinks are to be discouraged and are likely to lead to tooth decay.
- Natural fruit juices with no added sugars can be given as a treat only and limited to meal time and should not constitute the main source of hydration for your child.
- Regular six monthly visits to the dentist to check on your child’s teeth.
Particular care should be taken with babies.
The three major causes of Early Childhood Caries (tooth decay) are:
- Settling babies and allowing them to sleep with bottles containing milk, fruit juice, cordials or similar sweetened drinks
- Giving babies dummies (pacifiers) dipped in honey or other sweet products
- Frequent on demand breastfeeding after the age of 12 months, such as continuous night-time feeding.
Take your child to visit the dentist regularly for check-ups. Your dentist can check the teeth and assess risk factors for decay or other problems and advise you on how to brush and clean your child’s teeth and suggest how to manage any dental health problems.