Sometimes we talk to people who aren't aware of how critical it is to have perfect primary (baby) teeth. Yes, they do fall out, but the baby molars have to be kept until around 10-13 years of age, and are critical to keep the bite correct. There is nothing more awful for us and parents, than seeing a little one come in to the practice in pain with a tooth, with pus oozing out of the gum, and having the trauma of having to have a tooth removed. Sometimes they even need to be sent to a specialist to have the teeth sorted out under a general anaesthetic with a paediatric specialist dentist.
Brushing the teeth twice a day from the moment they enter the mouth is important to keep a healthy balance of bacteria in a growing mouth. From 6 to 12 months of age, brush the teeth with water, then use a dab of child's toothpaste (Maclean's milk teeth is one most kids like) on the toothbrush from 1 to 6 years.
There is a strong link between poor oral health as a baby, toddler and child, and how healthy the adult teeth will be. It is critical to keep the 20 baby teeth in as good a condition as is possible, so that the adult teeth can come through exactly as they need to, and enter a mouth that is cleaned well twice a day.
How to care for Baby's teeth:
1. Do brush your baby's teeth twice a day. If your baby gets upset, has a tantrum or the like, please persist with the brushing. Think how upset you and your child would be, if the teeth became decayed and had to be removed.
2. Use a dab of fluoride toothpaste from about the age of 1 to 18 months. Never give your baby adult toothpaste. It has too much fluoride. My children liked Macleans Milk Teeth because it was very mild.
3. Change your baby's toothbrush every 3 months. Keep it upright in a cup. As soon as it touches the floor or ends up somewhere away from where it ought to be, get a new one. You don't want bacteria from the bathroom floor on your baby's toothbrush!
4. Never give your baby lollies, soft drink or chocolate. There is no benefit to giving your baby refined sugary foods. Until at least the age of 2, they will never know to ask for it anyway!
5. Never ever dip your baby's dummy in anything sweet. It won't make them sleep better, but it will decay their teeth. This includes honey and beer!
6. Keep fruit juice to a minimum, and dilute it. Try not to give your baby fruit juice. Your baby will be just as happy with water.
7. We support breast feeding your baby for as long as you like, whenever you like.
8. Don't allow your baby to go to sleep with a bottle where the milk can pool around the teeth. Milk does naturally contain sugars.
9. Try to get your baby used to a cup for milk at one year of age, but if they prefer bottles, you don't have to fight it. Try to get your baby used to drinking water.
9. When your baby turns 2 think about when you think they will be ready to visit the dentist. Around 2.5 - 3 years of age is a good time to introduce your child to the dentist, even if it's a little ride on mum's lap. It will allow your child to develop a comfortable feeling about the dentist, for a future of good teeth and good health.
For further information about babies' teeth please see the ADA website http://www.ada.org.au/babiesandinfants.aspx