How to make sure your children’s teeth and gums stay healthy.

Good oral health starts at home. Careful brushing combined with regular trips to your Bristol dentist will help keep your children’s teeth in great condition. But when should you start brushing your children’s teeth and how can you protect them from tooth decay?

Pre-teeth

From 0-6 months, even though your baby may not yet have teeth, it’s worth cleaning gums to remove the sticky coating that appears after feeding. Use a specially designed gum brush (don’t use a regular tooth brush as it’s too harsh for a baby’s gum), or a piece of gauze.

Baby teeth

Baby teeth (or primary teeth) start to appear at around 6 months. By the age of 2, your child will have most if not all his/her baby teeth.

Don’t be concerned about gaps between your child’s baby teeth. They’re the spaces into which the adult teeth will later grow.

Try to break the need for dummies or thumb sucking by the time your child is 4.

You should brush all teeth twice a day once they’ve broken through. Your regular family toothpaste should be fine, but use only a smear of paste for under 3s, and a small, pea sized amount between 3 and 6. The toothpaste should contain fluoride. Most family brands contain between 1,350 and 1,500ppm of fluoride. If your child is under six you can use a lower strength toothpaste if you prefer, but it should contain at least 1,000ppm. If you’d like to discuss your child’s toothpaste, please call our Bristol dental practice.

Make an appointment to see your Bristol dentist shortly before your child’s first birthday and then visit every 6 months. Not only will this allow us to check on the progress and health of your child’s teeth; it will get them used to visiting the dentist and sitting in the chair.

Baby bottles and tooth decay

Sugary, fizzy or acidic drinks (including all fruit juices, whether fresh, concentrated or diluted) and baby bottles don’t mix. The effect on your child’s teeth can be extremely damaging.

Only put milk or water in baby bottles.

Never put your child to bed with a bottle.

Supervising brushing

Always supervise brushing until your child is around 7 years old.

Guide your child’s hand so they can feel how and where they need to brush.

Use a mirror so they can see where they’re brushing – there’s less chance they’ll miss bits.

Make sure they brush twice daily for 2 minutes and make it fun – an egg-timer, a song or even a tooth brushing app can make it easier to keep your child brushing for two minutes.

Encourage them to spit excess paste out, but try to avoid rinsing as you dilute the effect of the paste. Ensure they don’t lick the end of the toothpaste tube or swallow the paste.

Growing up

Your child’s baby teeth will start falling out around 6 years old. Most of the permanent teeth will be in place by the age of 13.

Continue to encourage your children to take proper care of their teeth and to visit their Bristol dental practice regularly. As they become teens, remind them how much of a difference white teeth and fresh breath can make.

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