It’s never too early to think about dental health, and while your six-month-old doesn’t need to visit the dentist, your toddler does. Before that point, there are action steps parents should take to ensure the health of their children’s teeth.
How To Look After A Toddler’s Teeth
While ages do vary, children typically cut teeth at around six months old. However, some children will start much earlier and others much later. There is no strict timeline. They don’t arrive in a particular order. Though we typically see them appear at the central bottom first. Usually, all of your child’s baby teeth (20 of them, to be precise) arrive by the age of three. They start falling out around the age of six, but it’s up to you to ensure their dental health because the health of their baby teeth will influence the health of their adult teeth.
- You don’t have to wait for baby teeth to appear before you look after them. You can wipe baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth until the first tooth sighting.
- You should ensure they brush each morning and again before bed. Always use a toothbrush designed for children, and unless your dentist tells you otherwise, use water only until they reach 18 months old. When they reach 18 months, you can start using low-fluoride toothpaste. At age two, you can relinquish some control to your toddler; so they feel part of the brushing action. However, you should still take the lead. Your child will need brushing assistance until they are at least seven.
- Diet is also a key part of looking after your toddler’s teeth. Avoid giving them soft drinks, fruit juices that are high in sugar, and flavoured milk. Tap water is the best drink for them, but be sure to boil and cool it until they turn one. You should also limit sugary foods. As tempting as it is to use them as an incentive for good behaviour, it’s best to avoid this for the health of their teeth. Ensure your child enjoys a variety of healthy foods daily. Calcium is great for teeth, and food like yoghurt, milk, and cheese are excellent sources.
- Thumb or finger sucking, as well as the use of dummies, should be limited. It’s a difficult habit to break, especially between the ages of two and four. However, a reward system (excluding food) can help you break their habit and protect their teeth.
- If your child has a fall and damages or knocks out a tooth, make an emergency dentist appointment immediately. Do not try to put the tooth back in place; this damages the adult tooth waiting beneath the gums.
Common Issues In Baby Teeth
Without supervision, children are prone to tooth decay as they do not properly brush. A poor diet can also contribute to advanced tooth decay.
In addition to decay, sensitivity can also be a problem in baby teeth. It’s uncomfortable and can be a result of new adult teeth, cavities, cracks, teeth grinding, and erosion.
Every parent swears they won’t allow thumb-sucking (or dummies), but children self-soothe naturally, and it begins in the womb! This habit tends to disappear naturally, but if it persists, you will need to intervene. If it continues past the age of three, there’s a risk of damage to permanent teeth. If it continues beyond three, up to the age of five, it can also cause speech issues.
Surprisingly, this is a common habit in babies and toddlers. When their teeth start to come in, they react to the discomfort by clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth. It generally stops once their teeth are in, but not for everybody. Continued grinding can erode the enamel, cause sensitive teeth, and increase the risk of decay.
Toddler’s First Dentist Visit
Your child should visit the dentist by their first birthday, assuming they have cut their first tooth by this point. Their first visit will likely take around half an hour. It will include an examination of their teeth, gums, jaw, and bite. Your dentist can advise how often you should return with them, but between the ages of 3 and 5, it should be at least every six months. You can ask about what age is right to book them in with the dental hygienist when you visit.
If you’re looking for a Camden dentist who offers Afterpay dental procedures, or you need a new family dentist, then you have come to the right place. While your little one is in the big chair, why not speak to a member of our team about the cost of dental implants or dental veneers for the parents?