The Tooth Of The Matter

toddler brushing teeth

From baby to preschooler, our dental care guide will help you brush up on caring for your child’s teeth.

We all know the importance of looking after our teeth, yet a recent survey found that more than 80 per cent of children don’t brush for the
recommended two minutes, and almost 50 per cent of parents wait until their child is 4 or older before they take her to the dentist for the first time. Officials from Public Health have warned that up to one third of
children are now suffering from tooth decay by the age of 3, so it’s incredibly important to take good care of your child’s first teeth. Although baby teeth do eventually fall out, they play a crucial role
in helping your child learn how to bite and chew, as well as speak clearly.

Here’s how you can ensure your child has a healthy smile, while helping her to develop good dental hygiene practices that will stand her in good stead for life.

Oh Baby!
Most babies start teething at around 6 months. However, some start before 4 months (a few are born with their first teeth!) and others don’t start until after 12 months. The NHS recommends parents start brushing as soon as the first tooth appears. Use a baby toothbrush that has a small
head and soft bristles and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste containing a fluoride level of at least 1,000ppm (parts per million). While babies
under 1 are too young to understand the importance of caring for their teeth, you may choose to introduce an oral healthcare routine even before the first tooth comes through by using baby dental wipes or a soft flannel to gently massage her gums.”
This not only helps to develop a healthy environment for the first
teeth to form (preventing the occurrence of pericoronitis, an infection of the gum tissue around a partially erupted tooth), but can also get your baby used to the idea of cleaning her mouth daily.” Set a good example by letting your child see you brushing your own teeth, too.

Teething Trouble
If your baby’s teething, massaging her gums twice a day with a clean, cool, damp flannel can also provide relief to sore and tender gums. Signs that a tooth is about to come through may include your child having a flushed face, red swollen gums, increased dribbling, irritability, and an impulse to chew things .You can use this opportunity to introduce a chewable baby toothbrush. It will be soothing to chew on and will help your child get used to the sensation of a brush in her mouth. Take your child with you when you go for your dental check-up so it becomes a familiar part of life. Book in a check-up for her once her first tooth has appeared.

Toddler Tactics
By 18 months your child will be developing teeth on a regular basis and it’s important that each one is cared for as well as the first. However, your strong-willed child may resist attempts to have her teeth brushed. Overcome her reluctance by explaining why we all need to brush our teeth and start to give her specific jobs, such as putting a smear of toothpaste on the brush. It’s very important
to make brushing fun.

Encourage your child to enjoy tooth brushing by taking her on a trip to buy an appealing, age-appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste, use a timer (you could let her press the button), sing a special tooth brushing song as you brush, try an app and use a star chart, giving her a
reward (not a sugary one!) for a certain number of successful brushings.

Honing The Habit
A positive attitude to oral health and a proper brushing routine will benefit your child for the rest of her life. By the age of 3 your child will have all her baby teeth and be old enough to start brushing on her own, under supervision, Let her brush, then follow up yourself, brushing any areas she’s missed. At this stage you should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains a fluoride level of between 1,350ppm and
1,500ppm. You should also visit the dentist regularly. Although a good oral hygiene routine is key to avoid decay, remember it’s also extremely important to restrict sugary foods and drinks in her diet.

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