Looking After Baby Teeth
Why early years oral care is so important.
We often discuss how you can take better care of your teeth as adults. For babies and very young children though, they can’t take care of their own teeth and the responsibility falls to their parents to do so. Oral health care for a baby is important but sometimes gets forgotten amongst the hundreds of other things there are to do.
For mums to be and those who are mums of young children already, our Synergy Clinic dentists offer some useful advice.
It seems reasonable to think that as babies typically have no teeth you shouldn’t have to worry about them at this stage. Whilst you obviously can’t clean their teeth, you should still make sure that their gums are kept clean to prevent infections and discomfort. This can be done quite easily by using a damp clean cloth and gently wiping the gums.
Baby’s first dental visit
One parental dilemma is when you should take your baby to the dentist for the very first time. We generally recommend that this is done around the time of their first birthday. Although no dental treatment is likely at this stage, it is a good opportunity to chat about their oral health care and for any advice to be offered. It is also a good opportunity for the baby to start to get used to a dental environment. There is some evidence that suggests that early and regular exposure to a dental practice will help them to avoid unnecessary anxiety about visiting when they grow older.
Please try to make sure when you leave our Addlestone practice to book your next appointment so that you stay in the routine and don’t let their oral care slip.
Young children and first teeth
As their baby teeth start to grow through it is very important that children’s teeth are cleaned well twice a day. This should be done using a soft bristled brush and brushing gently in a circular motion. Make sure that you use an age appropriate toothpaste and that you supervise them to make sure that they brush them well. Also, we suggest that you use a timer to make sure that they brush their teeth for the full 2 minutes.
You might wish to buy them an electric toothbrush too as this will help them to clean their teeth, especially when they are tired as the rotating brush head will do much of the work of young, tired arms.
Problems of premature baby teeth loss
Some people think that baby teeth aren’t important as they will fall out anyway. This is a misunderstanding and baby teeth that are in poor health can cause a number of problems.
The most obvious problem is tooth decay. Yes, they will eventually lose their first teeth but surely no parent wants to see their child in pain with a bad toothache. Remember too, that as a full anaesthetic can’t be administered by dentists, if a child needs to have a tooth out, this will have to be done in hospital.
Where baby teeth are lost prematurely, this can create problems for the child. Firstly, speech impediments are more likely if teeth are absent. This can have a knock on effect for their education if they get off to a slow start. It may also affect their confidence, causing them to choose not to speak up in class. Eating may be more of a problem too and they may start to choose softer foods, limiting their diet and potentially affecting their growth rate.
Finally, baby teeth act as placeholders for when their adult teeth are ready to come through. If the baby teeth are lost early, there is a chance that their adult teeth will come through crooked and require orthodontic treatment to correct them.
When baby teeth become loose
Eventually their first teeth will work loose and it is best not to force this to happen and to let it happen naturally. One word of caution; please don’t attempt any of the sometimes foolish stunts that can be seen on social media of adults pulling out their kid’s teeth using novelty methods. This may be entertaining to watch but it can go badly wrong. Using force like this could not only be painful but might also tear the gum badly.
If a wobbly tooth is causing problems for the child and is not coming out easily, please contact us and we will remove it safely and comfortably them. You can contact the Synergy Clinic in Addlestone by calling us on 01932 856541 and we’ll be pleased to advise you regarding oral issues for the whole family.