Primary teeth give shape to your child’s face and help to develop permanent teeth into the right position. These are essential for learning to eat and speak. It’s important to care for them well.
Primary teeth have a shallower outer enamel ( Enamel is the hard, outer layer of the tooth) than permanent teeth. This puts them at risk for early childhood cavity, which can occur even before the first tooth appears.
The cavity is caused by acids produced by bacteria. It happens more easily if teeth keep coming into contact with sugary liquids—such as formula, milk, juice, and even breast milk (which contains sugar)—and are not washed regularly.
Early childhood tooth decay can affect your child’s health and put them into pain, making it difficult for your child to sleep, eat or speak. It can also affect your child’s ability to concentrate and learn. Children who had dental decay at an early age are more likely to suffer throughout childhood time.
Tips for strong oral health from birth to 6 months:
- Clean your baby’s gums with a soft, clean, damp cloth twice a day.
- As soon as the first teeth appear, clean them at least once a day (usually at bedtime) with a soft bristle toothbrush specially designed for babies.
- Place your baby on a flat surface or with their head cradled in your lap to brush their teeth.
- Avoid leaving your baby in bed with a bottle.
After 6 months:
- Introduce a sippy cup.
- Avoid juice as it is unnecessary. If you are giving it, limit juice to no more than 125 mL (4 oz) per day. Better to give them in a cup rather than a bottle and only as part of a meal or snack.
- If a bottle is required at nap time, offer water rather than milk or juice.
- Never add sugar to a soother.
- Don’t put a soother in your own mouth for any reason. Bacteria (including those which cause tooth decay), viruses and yeast infections can be transferred between you and your child this way.
- Newborns should see a dentist within 6 months of their first tooth coming out or by 12 months old.
From 1 to 2 years:
- Take your child for a first dental visit at 12 months.
- Clean your child’s teeth daily (using non-fluoridated toothpaste).
- Switch to a regular cup for all kind of drinks between 12 and 15 months.
- Limit soother use to nap and bedtime.
From 3 to 4 years old:
- Teach your child “2 for 2 rules” which means brushing twice a day for 2 minutes each time.
- Use fluoride toothpaste, the small amount of a green pea, and teach them to spit rather than swallow. Supervise your child while he/she is brushing teeth.
- Support your child to do some brushing with you completing the job, making sure that all tooth surfaces have been cleaned.
- If your child continues to suck his/her thumb as permanent teeth begin to appear, talk to your doctor or dentist.
For all ages:
- Clean your hands before and after brushing teeth.
- Rinse toothbrushes thoroughly after brushing and ensure that each one can dry without touching other toothbrushes.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months, when the bristles become flattened with use.
- Between meals, quench a child’s thirst with water. Do not offer candy, dried fruit (including raisins) and sugared drinks or juices.
- Take your child for regular dental visits (every 6 months, unless otherwise suggested by your dentist).
As the baby age grows you need to adopt the new methods for his/her oral care, and this should be continued till they can take care of their own.