The Wiggles

Protecting your child's teeth


 

How should I brush my baby's/toddler's teeth?

During the teething stage, you can clean your child's teeth by using a soft, damp cloth to wipe gently over the teeth and gums. As your child grows older, you can start to introduce a children's toothbrush to the brushing process.

It is also important that you use a children's toothpaste, such as Macleans Milk Teeth, when brushing your child's teeth. These toothpastes are specially formulated for children and have reduced levels of fluoride, which effectively protect and strengthen your child's teeth.

It is difficult for young children to clean their teeth properly. Parents will need to help until they feel confident that the child can clean all the hard to reach areas, such as the top and bottom molars at the back of the mouth.

Young children learn best by imitation. Brushing together can become part of the daily routine. Habits set early, when a child is eager to copy, are easier to maintain. Here are a few tips to get things off to a good start:

  • Make tooth brushing time fun
  • If bedtime is not the best time to gain your child's cooperation, pick another time - a thorough cleaning once a day is recommended
  • If your child does not like your toothpaste, try another brand. As long as the toothpaste contains fluoride, it is fine

Most parents are well aware of when the front teeth come in, but many lose track when it comes to the molars in the back. Molar care is very important because of the grooves and cracks that easily trap small pieces of food. Children will need help with reminders of proper molar care.

It is worth taking a few minutes regularly to inspect your child's teeth. You may notice a white spot, a dark area or even a hole in a tooth. These could be early signs of a problem and should be checked by a dentist.

Should I be using a special toothpaste/toothbrush for my child?

It is important that you use a children's toothpaste, such as Macleans Milk Teeth, when brushing your child's teeth. These toothpastes are specially formulated for children and have reduced levels of fluoride. This effectively protects and strengthens your child's teeth.

Children's toothbrushes should also be introduced into the brushing process as soon as you feel your child would accept it. These brushes are also specially designed for children, with smaller heads and softer bristles.

When should my child first visit the dentist?

The first official trip to the dentist is due when your child is aged about two. However, when you go to the dentist for your regular check-ups, it may be a good idea to take your child with you so they can become familiar with the surroundings. It may not be wise to do this if you are nervous at the dentist yourself, as your child will pick up on your nervousness.

When the 'big day' comes, make it an exciting event for your child. Take along their favourite toys to play with while they're waiting. When it's time to take a ride in the dentist's special chair, your child may be a little curious to see what's going on. If so, you may want to give them a mirror to hold so they can see what the dentist is doing.

If you leave a child's first dentist visit until they have pain or there is a problem, they will be left with a negative impression of the experience, which they will remember next time they visit the dentist. You may need to put on a brave front for your child!

Are teething remedies fine to use on my child?

There are a number of remedies available to soothe a teething baby, as chewing or biting usually provides relief from teething. Try offering unsalted breadsticks or crackers to your baby. Approved commercial teething rings may also be useful.

You should also discuss the use of teething gels or ointments with your doctor or dentist prior to using them.

Are dummies fine to give my child? What if my child sucks their thumb?

The need to suck is natural for an infant, and a dummy may satisfy this need. Using a dummy is generally fine after six weeks of age. NEVER dip the dummy in sugar, honey or something similarly sweet as this can lead to tooth decay.

Sucking the thumb (or fingers) is generally fine up until the age of around four years old. Much past this, and the thumb (or finger) sucking may lead to permanent displacement of your child's teeth and/or jaw structure.

Which foods should I be encouraging my child to eat to maintain good oral health?

Good eating habits are important for your child's overall health and for strong, healthy teeth. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Encourage your child to choose healthy snacks, and discuss their choices. Teeth-friendly snacks include fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, crackers, popcorn, nuts, and yoghurt. Snacks high in sugar or starch can cause cavities, especially if eaten often. Raisins or other dried fruit, cookies, chips and fruit roll-ups are best eaten as desserts rather than snacks.
  • Plain water is the best drink for between meal times. Limiting your child's intake of sugary drinks (such as soft drinks) is also advised.

Lollies and biscuits are fine as occasional treats - just make sure that teeth are brushed thoroughly after they are eaten.

Frequently Asked Questions

Brush up on your knowledge! Here are some answers to commonly asked questions to help keep your teeth and gums healthy, and your breath fresh.

Why do I need to brush my teeth?

Over 300 different types of naturally occurring bacteria are contained in the mouth. If they are not removed by regular brushing, they form a coating called plaque. If plaque builds up, it can cause some nasty damage, such as gum disease and tooth decay.

What is the correct way to brush teeth?

It is recommended that you take at least two minutes to clean teeth thoroughly, twice a day.

Move the brush-head from gum line to the tip of the tooth. Work systematically around the outside, inside and biting surfaces of all your teeth. Pay particular attention to the gum line and any problem areas your dentist identifies. Hold the brush at a 45° angle against the gum line, brush gently using a soft toothbrush so you don't damage your gums.

How should I choose a toothbrush?

It's important that your toothbrush can reach all the surfaces of your teeth. So a brush with a smaller head is generally better than one with a larger head. Whether you choose a toothbrush with a straight handle or not depends on the shape of your mouth and how easily you can manipulate the brush.

How often should I change my brush?

Dentists recommend that you should change your toothbrush at least every three months because:

  • The bristle ends become worn and may cause damage to gums and teeth
  • Bacteria can build up on the brush head
  • Splayed bristles don't clean effectively

A year's supply of toothbrushes costs less than an average CD, so there's no excuse not to!

Why do teeth become sensitive?

Teeth become sensitive when the nerve endings become exposed. Whilst neither tooth enamel nor the 'cement' covering the root have nerve endings, in some cases gum disease, excessive brushing, tooth grinding or general wear can expose nerve endings in the dentine.

This makes the tooth sensitive to touch and to hot, cold and sweet things. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth, such as Macleans Sensitive, can help by blocking the dentine tubules and preventing the exposure of the dentine to stimuli. (Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your dentist.)

What causes bad breath and how can it be cured?

The most common cause of bad breath is bad smelling gases that are by-products of bacterial activity in the mouth, or a form of gum disease.

  • Improving oral hygiene can help to cure bad breath.
  • Use a quality toothpaste, with fluoride: you may want to use an antibacterial toothpaste
  • Don't forget to clean behind the back teeth
  • Try cleaning the tongue gently
  • Using a mouthwash can help, but don't give it to small children
  • Floss or clean between your teeth
  • Chew sugar-free gum if your mouth feels dry. This will stimulate saliva which will help to kill the bacteria that cause bad breath
  • Clean your mouth after eating or drinking
  • Avoid drinking too much coffee, as it tends to make bad breath worse


However, if bad breath persists, a visit to the dentist may be necessary to find out the exact cause.

When should I start brushing my child's teeth?

You can begin brushing your child's teeth as soon as they start to come through the gums, generally at around 6-9 months of age.

To begin with, use a soft, damp cloth to wipe gently over the teeth and gums. You can start to introduce a children's toothbrush as soon as you feel your child would accept it. Children's toothpaste should also be introduced as soon as you feel your child is ready.

When helping your child to brush their teeth, ensure they use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and discourage them from swallowing the paste.

When should I start taking my baby to the dentist?

The first official trip to the dentist is due when your child is aged about two. However, when you go to the dentist for your regular check-ups, it may be a good idea to take your child with you so they can become familiar with the surroundings. It may not be wise to do this if you are nervous at the dentist yourself, as your child will pick up on your nervousness!

When the 'big day' comes, make it an exciting event for your child. Take along their favourite toys to play with while they're waiting. When it's time to take a ride in the dentist's special chair, your child may be a little curious to see what's going on. If so, you may want to give them a mirror to hold so they can see what the dentist is doing.

If you leave a child's first dentist visit until they have pain or there is a problem, they will be left with a negative impression of the experience, which they will remember next time they visit the dentist. You may need to put on a brave front for your child!


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