How to look after your child’s oral health

a young child smiles at the camera with missing front teeth.

As a parent, your most natural instinct is to protect your child and keep them healthy. Yet many still struggle when it comes to dental care for kids. Whether it’s not knowing the best way to keep your child’s teeth healthy or just being time-poor, dental health is often neglected. We understand that the thought of ‘child tooth decay’ might send shivers down your spine, and for good reason. Tooth decay can cause pain, confidence issues, difficulty eating and even problems developing adult teeth. So it’s important to know how to look after your child’s oral health, correctly. To help make it a simple and straightforward process, here are our top tips and guidelines.

Tips to keep your child’s teeth healthy

When it comes to oral hygiene for kids, it’s important to teach good habits at a young age. Most little ones get their first tooth between the ages of 4 months and 12 months. Once this starts happening, we recommend these tips to keep your child’s teeth healthy:

  1. Start brushing once their first tooth comes in

A baby’s first tooth is a good sign to start implementing oral hygiene, such as tooth brushing. We recommend cleaning their teeth regularly with a soft bristle toothbrush for children, or a damp cloth. To avoid tooth decay, it’s important to do this after feeding and before bedtime. If you’re wondering when it’s appropriate to use fluoride toothpaste, you will need to speak with your dentist about this.

  1. Brush their teeth regularly

Once your child is 2 to 3 years old, you can start applying a pea-sized amount of kids’ toothpaste to their toothbrush. Doing this two times a day will set a good habit for them, so by the time they are 7 or 8 your child can start brushing their own teeth. However, we recommend that you supervise this to ensure your child is brushing all of their teeth for at least two minutes each session. It’s important that your kid spits out the toothpaste, rather than swallowing it. Swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can lead to health problems. We also recommend that your child doesn’t wash their mouth out with water, as this may remove the benefits of the toothpaste.

If you are having issues with getting your child to brush their teeth, you wouldn’t be the only one! However, there are ways to make it more enjoyable for all involved. Consider getting your child a toothbrush that has their favourite fictional character on it (like Elsa, Minions or Spiderman). You can also positively reinforce the behaviour by rewarding your child each time they brush their teeth correctly. 

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  1. Feed your child healthy foods

It’s recommended to give your child healthy foods, such as veggies, fruit, beans, whole grains, legumes, dairy and lean meats. The “2 Fruit 5 Vege” rule is a handy indicator for daily consumption requirements. Dairy is also a great source of calcium, which can help strengthen your child’s teeth. 

Please keep in mind that highly processed and sugary foods may have negative effects on your child’s general and oral health. So it’s important to only give these in moderation. Sugary drinks are likely to stick to your child’s teeth for a while, which can cause tooth decay. So if they’re going to drink them, get your child to brush their teeth shortly afterwards or only serve it during a meal.

  1. Don’t give your child a bottle at bedtime

While the idea of a bedtime bottle may seem soothing, it can actually cause health issues for your baby. Milk or formula will stick to your child’s teeth during the night, leading to an increased risk for tooth decay.

  1. Monitor their fluoride intake

Since the 1950s, Fluoride has run in Australian water supply systems. It’s a mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay, so it’s important for your child to intake an appropriate amount. Tap water, fluoride toothpaste (once old enough), fluoride varnish and supplements are all adequate ways to receive fluoride. 

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  1. Learn what to do when your child has loose teeth

Is your little one’s smile starting to look like swiss cheese? Understandably, you might be worried about their dental health. It can be disconcerting to see your child lose teeth. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on how to manage the situation. You can expect your child’s baby teeth to start loosening around age six and may continue until age twelve. It’s not advisable to pull a tooth out with string or floss. However, there is a safe way to remove a very loose tooth at home.

  1. Take your child to the dentist

For the best oral care, your child’s first dental appointment should be scheduled after their first tooth arrives. Then every 6 to 12 months after this. Starting young will help to break down any fears and can establish a trusting relationship with their dentist. If you haven’t taken your child to the dentist yet, it’s never too late to start! These regular checkups are key to your child’s dental health. By keeping to a consistent schedule, you can catch any issues that may arise in the future and save a lot of money in the process.

Book your child’s dental appointment at Claremont Dental online today or call us on 9383 1200 and we can answer any questions you may have.

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