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Dental Care for Children

Dental Care for Children

As your child progresses through different stages, it’s important that you guide them through good oral practices, as their teeth are theirs forever. For many parents, the process can become a bit confusing.

We hope this article helps to clarify crucial stages, but feel free to send us a message if you have any further questions.

6 Months

For most Babies, their teeth first appear between 6 to 10 months. However you can start cleaning your baby’s gums before the eruption of the first tooth. Wipe the gums gently using a clean, damp face washer or gauze a couple times a day.

As soon as teeth arrive, you can clean them twice a day (in the morning and before bed). Wrap a clean, damp face washer or gauze around your finger and wipe the front and back of each of your baby’s teeth. Using a small, soft toothbrush designed for children under two years. Use only water on the toothbrush until your baby is 18 months old.

Once your child is 18 months old, you can use a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush.
Avoid giving your baby anything sweet to go to sleep with such as a bottle of formula, milk or juice and avoid dipping your child’s pacifier in anything sweet.

Remember to monitor your baby’s teeth for tooth decay, check their teeth for signs of white chalky lines or brown spots.

2-3 Years

By the age of 3, majority of your child’s 20 baby teeth will have erupted. Continue brushing their teeth twice a day (using small circular motions for at least 2 minutes) with a soft bristle children’s toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of children’s toothpaste (use toothpaste with LOW fluoride).

Your child can start helping with cleaning the teeth, let the child hold the toothbrush and feel the brushing action. Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and avoid them swallowing any (this can cause them to receive too much fluoride which causes fluorosis (white specks) on their adult teeth.

You should start flossing your children’s teeth (even when they have only their baby teeth) once a child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between the ages of two and six. Parents should start to get their children in the habit of flossing daily. You can use regular floss or special plastic floss holders. As they develop dexterity, you can help them learn to floss. Children usually develop the ability to floss on their own around the age of 10.

It is also important to book your child’s first dental appointment by the time they are 2 years old. It encourages the child to get to know the dentist in a happy and relaxed environment for the first visit and built up a lifetime of positive dental experience. It also gives you and your dentist a chance to talk about your child’s dental needs.

6 Years

At around 6 years old, your child’s baby teeth will begin to fall out and their first adult teeth will begin erupting, your dentist will run an orthodontic assessment in order to recognise any potential issues with the growing adult teeth and discuss a treatment plan with you if necessary.

Again, floss daily and brush twice a day for a minimum of 2 minutes, in the morning and before bed at night; spit the toothpaste out, rinse and do not swallow toothpaste. Between 6- 8, you can begin teaching them/monitoring their brushing. But your child will need your help and supervision with cleaning teeth until your child is about eight years old.

Tooth decay affected a significant proportion of children: over 40% of Australian children aged 5-10 years had decay in their primary (baby) teeth. One quarter of children in that same age group had never received treatment for their tooth decay. On average, Australian children aged 5-10 had 1.5 primary teeth with decay. So it is important to avoid giving your child sweetened drinks or foods with high sugar or starch, instead provide a well-balanced diet including drinking water and milk.

TIP: Limit the number of snack times and choose nutritious snacks such as cheese, vegetables and yogurt.

8 Years

At around 6-8 years of age you can begin allowing your child to brush their own teeth. Continue brushing them twice a day, after breakfast and before bed while using a soft bristle brush.

Continue to help the child to floss daily. During this age, it is important to monitor them whilst they brush to ensure they are learning correct techniques and not overusing toothpaste. Ensure you praise them after brushing to encourage regular brushing and flossing.

12 Years

By the age of 12 the majority of your child’s adult teeth have erupted (except wisdom teeth). More than one third of children aged 9-14 years had decay in their permanent teeth, and one in seven children in this age group had not previously been treated for decay in permanent teeth.

By this age, it is important that you maintain a well-balanced diet, avoid sweetened drinks like soft drinks and sports drinks and take your child to the dentist every 6 months for check-ups and cleans as well as monitoring the progress of their adult teeth. Continue to enforce correct brushing and flossing techniques.

If your child begins playing sports such as football, basketball, soccer etc it is important that they wear a professionally fitted mouthguard to prevent trauma to their teeth.

A few last pointers:

  • Ensure toothbrushes are thoroughly rinsed after brushing and shake off water to help dry.
  • Rinsing under fast running water will help remove toothpaste, food and any plaque left behind.
  • Store the toothbrush upright in an open container to allow it to air-dry.
  • Do not share toothbrushes between family members. One for each family member so that decay causing germs will not be shared.
  • You should replace toothbrushes every 3-4 months, or when the bristles get worn or frayed.

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