Dental Care for You & Your Child

Dental Care for You & Your Child
Childhood is the best time to establish good oral care habits. It is also a time parents need to be vigilant about caring for newly formed teeth. Did you know that putting your baby to bed with a bottle is bad for emerging teeth? A recent survey found that 20 per cent of three-year olds had tooth decay due to sugary drinks in feeding bottles.

Babies generally start teething at six months old. By age 2, toddlers usually have 20 teeth. These baby teeth are particularly vulnerable to sugars and harmful bacterial acids, which are generated after eating sweet foods. The practice of putting sweet fruit juices or syrups in bottles, on teething rings or dummies should be avoided. Sugars eaten just before bedtime are particularly harmful as they trigger acids that create tooth decay while your baby is sleeping.

Dentists suggest initiating an oral cleaning program for your baby even before teeth have started forming. Gently use a washcloth or a gauze pad to wipe the gums after feeding and before bed. As soon as teeth appear, use a soft bristled brush on the teeth and continue cleaning the gums with a washcloth. It is recommended that infants visit a dentist by age one. Daily flossing should begin as soon as teeth grow side by side.

Parents need to clean their children's teeth for them, or supervise, until they are about six or eight years old. At this age children will develop the dexterity to clean properly and their second teeth will begin appearing. The recommended technique is to stand or sit behind your child, cradle their head with one hand and clean their teeth with your other hand. Remember to use children's toothpaste (with reduced fluoride), as this will minimise the impact of any swallowed toothpaste.

Try to teach your kids to spit out the toothpaste and rinse as soon as possible.


- Set an example by brushing and flossing in front of your children
- Make good oral care a habit for your kids
- Visit a dentist for check-ups twice a year
- At age one, your baby should be taught to drink from a cup
- Discourage thumb sucking as tooth alignment can be affected

Pregnant women need to take extra time to look after their oral health, as gums become more sensitive to plaque during pregnancy. Periodontal disease should also be treated as quickly as possible as there is some suggestion of links with premature births.

If you experience morning sickness during pregnancy it is recommended that you rinse your mouth with water and brush half an hour later to allow the acids to be rinsed from your mouth.

Information taken from the Sunbeam Healthy Teeth Handbook