Guide to Infant Dental Care
From the arrival of their very first tooth to the final $5 left by the tooth fairy, your child’s baby teeth play an incredibly important role in their childhood. Although they’ll eventually lose them, baby teeth guide children’s permanent teeth into position, impact their nutrition and can even affect their speech development. When you consider this, it becomes concerning just how vulnerable baby teeth are to decay. As infant’s enamel is thinner and softer, their teeth are at a high risk of damage if not protected. Fortunately, infant tooth decay can be easily prevented through healthy baby dental care habits… read on to find out more!
Is baby dental care important?
Although timing varies, most baby teeth begin to appear between six and ten months of age. These teeth can arrive in any order, though it’s most common for the bottom central teeth to appear first. You can begin forming healthy dental routines even before your child’s first tooth appears… it’s never too early to kick off a lifetime of healthy smiles! We recommend gently wiping your little one’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after feedings.
Once your child’s first tooth emerges, you can start cleaning their teeth with a baby toothbrush. We recommend opting for a very soft brush with up to three rows of bristles. In most cases, toothpaste is not required before the age of eighteen months. Simply dampen the toothbrush and gently brush away. Once your child reaches eighteen months, you can begin brushing with a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste. The aim is to remove decay-causing bacteria from the surface of the teeth, so be sure to change their toothbrush every two to four months before bacteria builds up.
While brushing is vital for healthy teeth, even the world’s best baby toothbrush is not going to help teeth that are exposed to excessive amounts of sugar. To keep your infant’s teeth in tip-top shape, be sure to minimise their exposure to sugars, including sugary sweets, snacks and drinks.
Why is dental care so important?
As an infant’s enamel is thinner and softer, their teeth are very prone to decay. While they may find comfort in falling asleep with their bottle, ‘baby bottle’ tooth decay is a common issue faced by infants. When a baby falls asleep with a sweetened liquid in their mouth (e.g., cow’s milk, breast milk, formula, soft drink or juice), the resulting acid causes rapid damage to their enamel. Over time, this damage gets worse and worse, often leaving behind cavities.
So, what are the signs of tooth decay in children? While it can be hard to detect in its early stages, decay must be stopped early on. Keep an eye out for the following signs:
– During the early stages, there will be a dull white band on the tooth, close to the gums.
– As decay progresses, you’ll notice a yellow, brown or black band on the tooth.
– In more advanced cases, teeth will appear like brownish or dark grey stumps.
When should your child have their first dental check-up?
We recommend booking your child in for their first dental check once their first tooth appears, or before the age of one. During these check-ups, the dentist will check the health of their teeth, check for signs of tooth decay, clean the teeth and provide any advice to be implemented at home. From there, your dentist will advise you on how often your child should have a check-up, though it is often every six to twelve months.
At TLC Dental, we’re passionate about caring for teeth at all stages of life, from early infant teeth through to senior dental care. We’re dedicated to setting little ones up with beautiful smiles that are healthy for life. We take a preventative approach to dentistry, so we’ll help instil healthy dental habits that your little one will carry well into adulthood.
Book a dental check-up at one of our five suburbs south of the river, including:
Phone your local clinic above to book in for a check-up today!