With so much information out there, it can be hard to know exactly what it best for your children – especially when it comes to their oral health! Your child’s mouth changes dramatically in their first 5 years, and there are lots you can do to ensure their teeth get the best start in life.
We’ve broken it down for you to make things easier; first, we’re going to take a look at babies …
Babies: 6months to 1 year
One of the most common questions we hear is ‘When should I start looking after my baby’s mouth?’ And the answer, unbeknown to many, is pretty much straight away! Before your child’s teeth begin to show, usually around four to six months, you don’t need to brush their gums, however you can clean their with a clean wet cloth after feedings to get them used to a dental hygiene routine and to create a clean environment for their new teeth to grow into. Once any of their teeth are showing through you should begin to brush them with a very soft toothbrush – also, once their first teeth arrive, you should book them in for a check-up at the dentist.
Brushing tips for babies:
Most parents find sitting their child up, facing away from you, is the easiest position to brush their teeth. Brush in small circular motions focusing where the gum meets the tooth. Remember, when your baby is teething their gums will be very sore so be very gentle.
You should spend around two minutes gently brushing your baby’s teeth. You should brush them every morning and night, with the last brushing being just before bed after their last drink.
Don’t forget - The toothpaste the rest of the family uses is far too strong for a baby. You can buy toothpastes specifically made for young children, and you should use one that contains fluoride as it prevents tooth decay (look for one which contains at least 1,000ppm)
Brush your teeth in front of your child as often as possible. Children love to copy what they see their parents doing, and brushing regularly is a great habit for them to pick up.
Now, we know dummies can be a real life saver at times, and some babies can’t be soothed without them. But, the pressure they put on your baby’s mouth can cause their teeth to move so the British Dental Health Foundation advises against them. Try to have your child dummy free as young as possible, and never dip their dummy in anything containing sugar, especially before bedtime
At around six months, your child will begin teething. Their gums will be red, sore and most likely painful. This is when the first set of teeth will start to become visible.
The most obvious signs of teething are:
- Increased chewing
- Swollen gums
- Red, flushed cheeks
- Increased dribbling
Teething is a natural process, but at times it can be really uncomfortable for your child. Here are some of the ways you can help ease your child’s pain:
- Spend extra time with your child and try to keep them occupied with games and activities.
- Your child will drool more so it’s important to keep around their mouth clean and dry. A sore chin is the last thing your child needs!
- Try chilled teething rings. This will help sooth their irritated gums.
- Your child won’t always be in pain, but, when they are, try applying a sugar-free teething gel directly to their gums.
- If your child is still in pain, try a sugar-free medicine like Calpol or Nurofen for Children.
If your child has a fever, then consult your doctor. A fever is not a symptom to teething.