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March 29 2010

Taking Care of Your Child's First Teeth

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Did You Know…?

Dental care for your kids actually starts when they are still in their mother's womb.That's just one of the many reasons to take extra care of your health during pregnancy.It's especially important for pregnant women to make sure they are getting a healthy, balanced diet. You should go for a full dental examination when you discover you are pregnant, as any cavities or gum disease will need to be treated as early as possible. In the UK pregnant woman are eligible to receive free dental care on the NHS. If you are lucky enough to have a good dental insurance plan then it is likely that you have already been advised that a visit to the dental surgery during your pregnancy would be a good idea.

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The Childs Developing Teeth

Your child's first teeth usually begin to break through the gums from the age of about 6 months old.  As every child is different the age can vary greatly so do not fret if the your child's first teeth break through a little earlier or later. Every child has twenty “baby”, or “milk” teeth; the first teeth which appear between the age of six months and three years old. These first teeth are not around for long; usually children start losing his or her milk teeth between the ages of 6 and 11 years old.The molars will usually push through at around six years old. The last permanent teeth come out anywhere between the age of 12 and 21 years old.

By the time your child is around 8 months of age your dentist should be able to tell if the child will have any dental problems with their new developing set of teeth. While only a short term view it's good to be made aware of any initial concerns should there be any in your child's near future.While they may not be medical doctors, dentists often have a wide range of knowledge and experience within the dental surgery field which help them advise on a range of related issues. There are many great reasons to suggest that taking your child for regular dentist visits is a good idea, but the one I like most is familiarisation. You have a better chance of avoiding fear of dentists in your child if you take them with you to your own appointments. 

When Should Your Child’s Dental Care Begin?

As a parent you should make a dentist's appointment for your child every six months.You should be thinking proactively about dental care by the time your child turns one. From the appearance of the very first tooth, there is still a lot that parents can do. Naturally you cannot use a tooth brush on a baby's very first teeth, nor can you use adult toothpaste either. A toothbrush will have bristles which are much too hard for a baby's teeth and adult tooth pastes have fluoride in them. There has been a fair amount of debate surrounding fluoride toothpastes; this is sure to continue, but it is probably best to avoid it's use while your baby is very young. Toothpaste is essentially just the lubricant at this stage, and the best thing is to use a soft cloth to simply wipe your baby's teeth and gums. This will be more than sufficient in removing any sugars from bottled or breast milk and the juices that younger toddlers may drink. Tooth decay can start at a young age due to the sugars found in foods. The rule is simple, a gentle wipe over the teeth and gums each time after feeding and you will be doing a great job. It's easier for parents to introduce a low fluoride toothpaste once the child has reached about two years old. Your dentist will be happy to advise you when choosing a brush and toothpaste for your child.

If your child has any dental problems arising from illness or injury, for example, then they should be seen by a pediatric dental specialist. If there are dental problems which are caused by underlying issues such as poor circulation your pediatrician will make you aware of any additional treatments for you to look into.

Helpful Tips

1. Try Not to Share a Spoon.– Parents and carers may often share spoons and forks with their children. The saliva you may leave on the utensil contains bacteria that can cause tooth decay. You can help prevent early childhood tooth decay by making sure that your family practices good dental health habits. If you do share a spoon with your baby or test the temperature of the bottled milk by taking a sip from the teat, wipe the teat or wipe your baby's teeth and gums after they have have been fed. Keeping your own teeth and gums healthy reduces the risk of transferring tooth decay bacteria to your child.

2. Don't Give Baby a Bottle in Bed.– However attractive the option sometimes, do not be tempted to put your baby to bed with a bottle – whether it be milk, juice, or any other drink containing sugars – as the acids within may cause early tooth decay. This is easy to say, but a hard one to practice!

3. A Healthy Diet Will Help Your Teeth. – your kids will need to eat the right balance of foods in order to avoid tooth decay and develop strong, healthy gums and teeth. These include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try to avoid too many foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as pastries, white pasta, and white bread. It's important to find the right balance, as even fruits – so important for healthy growth – contain sugars which can cause rapid tooth decay.

4. Process of Teeth Cleaning. – You can gently clean around the gums and first teeth with a soft cloth as soon as you see them beginning to break through.Use a very soft toothbrush and water to clean the teeth as more of them come through.

5. Fluoride Can Help Development of Healthy Teeth. – By the time, your baby is 1 year old, begin to use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste while brushing your child’s teeth.

6. Flossing Time – You should begin flossing your child's teeth as soon as you notice their teeth beginning to touch each other.

7. On Their Own – Your child can learn how to brush his or her own teeth at about 3 years of age. Children should be brushing their teeth in the morning and before bedtime by 4 years old.While they may be independent enough to do it themselves, you should always supervise brushing to ensure it is being dome the right way.

Now is the time to teach your children about the importance of looking after their teeth properly; if they don't learn now it will be much harder for them to understand the importance of dental hygiene in the future. Dencover dental insurance have dedicated an entire web site to helping you maintain beautiful healthy teeth and offering tips and advice on the best ways that you can insure your smile.