It seemed like this time last year half of our patient population was pregnant, so I wrote a blog on mouth health and pregnancy. This year, babies seem to be falling from the sky (not actually!) but I am receiving a large number of questions about mouth care for little ones. So, in no particular order, here are some of the top questions we get asked:
- Do I need to brush my child’s teeth?
Yes definitely! When the teeth actually erupt and are present in the mouth they require cleaning and the easiest way is usually with a soft, child-sized toothbrush. Obviously, your baby will not be able to brush their own teeth and this is yet another job for the Super-Parent! It’s really important to brush your baby’s teeth because healthy baby teeth are more likely to lead to healthy grown-up teeth.1 Prior to the teeth erupting, you can use a soft cloth that has been moistened with water to rub along the little horseshoe of gum in your baby’s mouth where the teeth will erupt.2 This gets them used to something in their mouths that is not food and may help make brushing easier during teething.
2. When should I bring my child to the dentist?
As soon as those little teeth appear! Dr. Walsh is very proactive about mouth health for everyone and we want to see those kiddies as soon as they start sprouting their teeth. The first visit is meant to be a happy visit, so Dr. Walsh usually proceeds within your youngster’s comfort level. If they don’t want to open their mouth, that’s fine. If they allow a full polish, fluoride, and exam, that’s fine. If they panic and scream their head off, that’s fine too! We want to proceed in a conscientious manner that is mindful of your baby’s comfort level. The Dentist at 70 Pitt Street is also a member of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule but if you don’t qualify, services for children are billed to your health fund with no gap.
3. Should I be using toothpaste with fluoride?
Yes, please! However, you need to realize that only a small amount is required, the size of a grain of rice. Not that big basmati stuff—the tiny sushi kind! Really, the amount should be so small that it almost doesn’t even exist on the brush—as small as you can get it, please. The ADA also recommends using a paste with a lower amount of fluoride than adult kinds of toothpaste—these are the ones labeled for kids and will have a lower amount of fluoride in them.2
4. What about a dummy or thumb/finger sucking?
It’s a natural part of the development and is comforting for most babies and children.3 However, we do want them to outgrow this behavior, and most kids will do this between the ages of 2 and 4. If your little one doesn’t seem to be outgrowing the behavior, let us know because we can help!
We know that it’s not always easy to get your youngster to do what you want them to do, especially when it’s something that’s good for them like toothbrushing. Check out the links on the ADA webpage for lots of tips and advice about baby and kids’ teeth.3 You can even have a look at the AppStore where Oral B has put some free Apps for encouraging brushing and tracking progress and things like that! Let us know if you have any questions or if we can be of help to you and your family!