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How to look after your children's teeth

Dad and son brushing teeth Baby teeth, also known as deciduous teeth, play an important role in a child’s development:
  • They work with the tongue when a child is developing speech.
  • They help a child enjoy a varied diet.
  • They maintain the space for the adult teeth.

It is important to look after your children’s teeth:

  • Brush teeth twice a day.
  • Spit don’t rinse - so that the fluoride can do its work.
  • Choose family fluoride toothpaste, the best toothpaste to use contains 1450 ppm fluoride.
  • A pea size blob is enough, or a smear for babies.
  • Children should be supervised when tooth brushing until around eight years old, as they often only brush what they can see and may find it difficult to get to hard to reach places.
  • Keep sugary foods and drinks to mealtimes, as snacking on sugary food and drinks between meals can ruin a child’s teeth and spoil a lovely smile.
  • Fresh fruit juice can also cause damage to teeth, so it is better to dilute the juice  - one part juice to ten parts water. It’s also better to give at mealtimes, as fresh fruit juice can count as one of a child’s five a day and also help with the absorption of iron at mealtimes.
  • The best drink for a baby is breast milk. At 6 months old, try water between meals in a free flowing feeder cup. At 1 year old, the child can have cows’ milk.

Teething

  • 6 months – first incisors
  • 7 months – second incisors
  • 12 months – first molars
  • 18 months – canines
  • 2-3 years – second molars

When a baby is teething he or she may be bad tempered and have trouble sleeping. As the teeth grow and push through the gums it can be painful, and you may notice your baby chewing on toys and dribbling. Teething rings can help. Try cooling them in the fridge as this can help to soothe gums. Or try a teething gel - these contain an anaesthetic gel so it is very important that you follow the instructions carefully.

Dummies and thumb sucking

Dummies are used as a way of comforting a baby. It is important to limit their use, as it can cause problems such as stopping the front teeth coming into the mouth properly and stopping the front teeth from biting together. Never, ever dip the dummy into anything sweet as this can lead to decay and cause holes in your child's teeth. Once teeth have erupted, usually at around 6 months, we advise parents to wean babies off their dummies to avoid any adverse effects such as:

  • Anterior open bite
  • Middle ear infections ·
  • Throat infections
  • Delayed speech

Tips for weaning your baby off their dummy:

  • Take out the dummy when your baby has fallen asleep.
  • Encourage your baby to remove the dummy while learning to talk.
  • Swap the dummy at Christmas/Eid or birthdays for something else.
  • However, if you remove your baby’s dummy too early it can encourage thumb sucking, which can also cause dental development problems.

Going to the dentist

You can take your child for a dental check from 6 months of age. Many dentists recommend a child has his/her first appointment as soon as the first teeth appear. It is important that you help your child to relax on these visits.