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Granted, I posted it under the header of bottle caries, which I have seen cases as bad as that picture before. But some parents just couldn’t believe how the child in the picture became quite so bad. Yes, there were probably other factors at play for their teeth to get quite that bad, such as constantly drinking fizzy drinks or eating sweets, lack of brushing, mental health issues to name but a few.
This one should be a given, but the sooner you start brushing your childs teeth, the quicker they will get used to it, and hopefully instill a lifelong positive attitude towards oral health. You can start when their first teeth errupt: Gently clean your infant’s gums and newly erupting first teeth after each feeding with a water-soaked gauze pad or damp wash cloth. It’s essential that milk and formula not be left to sit on their teeth for too long, otherwise it will start feasting on their beautiful new teeth and cause decay.
I’ll tell you now, when you see a toothpaste TV advert, they are putting way too much toothpaste on the brush! This is so you use more and buy more. An adult only need use a pea sized amount. A child above the age of 3 only needs a very small pea sized amount, and a baby or toddler needs just a smear. You don’t need to use loads as it goes a long way! Make sure you’re using a very soft and small toothbrush to start off with as well. You want to be able to reach all those little nooks and crannies!
Children lack the dexterity to brush their teeth properly until the age of 6. We advise that you brush for them up until this age. If they’re particularly stubborn about it, then let them do it first, and then you can go afterwards. Flossing can come later.
Birminghams tap water has been fluoridated since the 80’s, but other areas of the UK still don’t have any fluroide in the tap water. This is why it’s imperative that you use a fluoridated toothpaste. It helps prevent decay. Keep in mind that toothpastes and various foods may also contain fluoride.
Don’t let your child go to sleep with a dummy or a bottle filled with anything but water. Going back to the bottle caries image, milk contains naturally occuring sugars called lactose. If you leave that lactose on the teeth for too long, it will start to eat away at the enamel, and turn into decay. Children’s teeth are softer than adults, so it’s easier to get decay.
And falling under the milk bracket is breast milk and formula. We’re not saying not to drink milk, breast milk or formula, but you need to watch the frequency it’s hitting the teeth. When teeth are frequently exposed to sugar-containing fluids for long periods, the potential for decay increases dramatically.
Understand that if your child ingests sugars (this means sweets, drinks, fruit, milk, anything with added sugar or naturally occuring sugar), it will take the saliva a minimum of 30 minutes to neutralise the acidity that is created by decay-producing bacteria. A sugary snack every hour can mean your child’s mouth is always acid, increasing the chances for tooth decay. Try and keep chocolate and sweet treats to meal times to reduce the risk of this happening.
We always recommend that you bring your baby to your dental appointments right from birth. They won’t be seen yet, but it’ll get them used to coming. After all, we probably look a bit scary to young children. Plus, there’s lots of new sights, sounds and smells at the dentist, and you don’t want them to be put off coming.
It is important to establish a dental home. We will teach you how to prevent dental disease, check for decay in the watch for developmental problems, and set a positive precedent for future visits.
As a rule, we like to apply topical fluroide paste to childrens teeth, up to the age of 17. It just gives the teeth an extra layer of protection. And it’s banana flavoured! Yum!
If you feel anxious about a visit to a dental professional, try not to convey these feelings to your child. This is very important for emotional well-being. Encourage your child to discuss any fears he/she might have about visiting a dentist, but don’t put any new fears into his/her head. It is a good rule of thumb not to mention the words “hurt” or “pain” as it raises a possibility he/she might not have thought of.
Research has shown that children under age 7 sustain over half of the dental injuries to their primary (baby) teeth playing in close proximity to home furniture.
Dummies and bottles can also affect how the teeth form in the mouth. If your child is regularly using a dummy, bottle or even sucking their thumb, their teeth will form around whatever is in their mouth. This can cause issues with the present teeth, and their adult teeth. So if your child uses any of these things for comfort, either make sure you remove whatever they may be sucking to get to sleep after they’ve fallen asleep, or put a stop to it altogether.
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