As a parent, you can often worry about your child’s teeth, which affects their health and wellbeing. Tooth decay is the most common dental problem among Australian children. Poor dental health, combined with sugary foods and drinks, can severely affect children’s speech, jaw development and overall health. To make matters worse, one in three children aren’t keeping up with recommendations to brush twice a day. But don’t worry, we’ve listed the top tips from our dentist Dr Jake Jang to protect your child’s teeth.
Keep an eye on your child’s tooth development
According to the Ministry of Health NSW, babies can begin teething from as early as three months old. Their first teeth usually appear at around six to nine months and, by the age of one, a baby can have up to eight teeth. It’s important to start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they become visible through their gums. Use a soft damp face washer or fingerbrush to gently wipe teeth clean after meals and before bedtime.
Aside from cleaning, check your child’s mouth at least once a month by lifting their upper and lower lips and looking for any changes to their teeth or gums. A white band along the gumline or visible brown spots on their teeth are signs of tooth decay so it’s best not to prolong their first visit to the dentist.
Prepare for your child’s first visit to the dentist
The Australian Dental Association recommends that your child visits the dentist when their first baby tooth becomes visible or when they reach 12 months old – whichever comes first. During their first appointment, the dentist will check that their teeth are developing as they should and scan for any signs of tooth decay or any other dental conditions.
As a parent, your attitude towards the dentist can influence your child’s perception of the dentist. It’s important to talk about a trip to the dentist as a positive and enjoyable experience to help them form good habits in their adult life and not fear the bi-annual dental checkup. Make sure you find a family dentist who has experience with children, and make them feel comfortable whilst visiting the dentist.
Encourage healthy eating
Children are naturally energetic and physically active, so snacking is important to keep their energy levels high. Pre-packaged foods are convenient but making sure your child eats a nutritional diet with low sugar is important to give them the best chance of developing strong and healthy teeth. In Australia, fluoride is added to our water supplies so choosing tap water over filtered water is also a convenient way to help reduce tooth decay.
Keep up good dental habits
From the age of 18 months, you can start to introduce a small amount of low-fluoride toothpaste using a brush with no more than three rows of bristles. Brush your child’s teeth after eating in the morning and before bed using small circular motions and fluoride toothpaste suitable for children. This practice can help strengthen their teeth enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Children usually lose their first baby tooth by the age of seven so by this stage it’s important to encourage them to practice brushing their own teeth and floss with supervision. Whilst kids toothpaste can be tasty, remind them not to swallow!
Make dental hygiene fun
It’s not easy to get your kids to eat their vegetables, let alone brush their teeth. Try investing in a colourful toothbrush, a natural flavoured toothpaste or even play their favourite song to encourage a longer brush time.
For kids aged 6 years and over, you can now turn the daily brush into a fun, interactive game thanks to Colgate’s augmented reality tooth brushing experience. Using a specialised brush and free Colgate Magik app, the game teaches children good brushing techniques and encourages them to form good brushing habits while having fun.
Your local family dentist in Gosford
For the best dentistry for children, visit Gosford Family Dentist, your local dentist in Gosford. Our friendly team promotes an inviting, comfortable, and calm environment for children of all ages. Services include X-rays, oral hygiene assessments, teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, and professional guidance from our dentists.