When you teach your child to take good care of their teeth, you're starting habits that will stay with them for their lifetime. Here, our children's dentists share some tips on how to care for your child's oral health from 0-3 years of age.
Your child's first set of teeth (commonly referred to as baby teeth) are already present on the day your child is born, they're just hidden under your baby's gums. Generally speaking, the front teeth will begin to come through the gums between six and twelve months. The remaining teeth will start to appear over the next 2 years. By the time your child is 3 years old they will likely have all 20 baby teeth.
Baby teeth are very important for eating and speaking, and they also keep spaces for adult teeth. Healthy and strong baby teeth will pave the way for good healthy adult teeth. That's why it’s important to make your child's oral health a priority.
Keep Your Child's Teeth & Gums Clean
Always clean your baby's gums after a feeding even before you see any sign of teeth coming through. It's easy to do, just wrap a wet washcloth around your index finger and gently massage the gums. As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in you can start to use a child's soft bristled toothbrush, with a small smear of child-safe toothpaste.
At 2 years old, a larger 'pea-sized' dab of toothpaste is recommended for keeping your child's teeth healthy. It's also a good idea to start flossing as soon as they have two teeth next to one another.
Visit The Dentist Early
By their first birthday, or within 6 months after their first tooth comes in, your child should have an exam by a dentist. This will give your dentist a chance to identify any oral health issues early, as well as help your child to become comfortable with visiting the dentist.
Ease Teething Pain
Teething generally begins between four and six months of age. Your child's gums may be red and swollen, and you may notice lots of drool. To help ease these symptoms, give your infant a clean teething ring or cold wet washcloth. This can be a difficult time for children and parents but keep in mind that their discomfort will pass, it just takes a little time.
Avoid Sugary Food & Drinks
For good oral health, be sure to cut down on how often your child eats sugary foods and drinks. Never give sweet drinks in a baby bottle, and try not to let your baby develop the habit of sleeping with a bottle at night or at nap time. On the occasions when your baby or child does have something sugary, clean or brush their teeth thoroughly afterwards.
Make Oral Health Fun
Help your kids to have a healthy smile by making dental hygiene fun! Try make brushing and flossing a family activity, create a reward system to encourage positive behaviours. Together you can watch an episode of their favourite show about visiting the dentist, or read children's books about oral health and visiting the dentist. By starting early with your child, you can help them develop good oral hygiene habits that will last them a lifetime.