Baby teeth are a BIG deal. From the moment you first start seeing your baby gnaw on every solid object passing them by to the dreaded teething stage, your little one goes through quite an ordeal to get their complete set of milk teeth into place.
Twenty milk teeth all shape your child’s jaw structure and help your tot to form words. Baby tooth care matters; there’s no escaping it. From sore gums to first milk tooth appearances, it’s never too early to start your baby’s oral hygiene journey.
Here are 7 reasons why establishing good baby tooth care is essential:
Milk teeth are space holders
We all know that before your permanent adult teeth come in, you first need to grow a full set of milk or baby teeth which eventually fall out. Quite simply, your baby’s milk teeth are essentially space holders. If they are not cared for properly, your child can face long term problems such as changing the structure of their face and jaw bone.
Surprisingly, even babies can experience tooth decay. You see, as soon as nutrient-rich milk – breast or formula – enters their mouth, sugary deposits are left to sit on their gums. When left alone, these sugars can turn into acidic bacteria that causes decay and stinky breath!
Tooth decay is no joke. It is painful and disruptive to the natural growth pattern that needs to occur in your tot’s mouth. Fortunately, taking care of your baby’s gums is simple. All you need is a clean, soft, moist cloth or specially formulated dental wipe to gently remove any leftover bacteria or food debris from their gums.
Promotes proper chewing and good nutrition
Chewing, gnashing and biting are all essential for eating regardless of your age. Your teeth, as well as your baby’s, are designed to make the food you eat easily and readily digestible. Without teeth, the essential nutrients you need to survive are less easily digested, and you may encounter health problems as a result.
If your baby is in pain or is missing much-needed teeth, they may resist eating certain foods, which means they miss out on essential nutrients and vitamins from their food. Without a balanced diet, your child may suffer from further dietary and developmental issues further down the road.
Great for building self-esteem
Children are joy bringers. Their smiles can transform even your darkest days into positive experiences, all because of your child’s wonder and innocent perception of the world around them.
Growing up with missing teeth due to tooth decay can have a massive knock on your child’s confidence and self-esteem. So make sure you build up a solid routine, and your tot brushes their teeth for the recommended two minutes, twice a day!
Minimises risk of dental pain
Healthy teeth and mouths don’t cause pain. There we said it.
On the flipside, sore, decaying teeth cause a lot of pain. It can prevent your child from getting a good nights sleep, distract them from tasks at home and at school and interrupt their day to day. Having poor oral hygiene not only causes a bunch of health-related issues, but it can have a negative impact on your child’s ability to learn, socialise, and self-esteem.
Don’t skip brushing
We all live busy lives, but even so, how often do you skip brushing your teeth?
Establishing a good, regular tooth brushing routine where your baby is experiencing some form of brushing twice a day for at least two minutes takes up very little time out of your day. The best times tend to be first thing in the morning or after breakfast and just before they go to bed.
You may want to consider:
- Brushing during bathtime: that way, you are instilling a sense of routine with an activity that your baby is already used to
- Singing a song: all children love songs, so use it to your advantage. Play their fave anthem or adapt a nursery rhyme to get your little one excited about brushing. Remember, two minutes is the amount of time to aim for!
- Reading a tooth brushing related story: Everyone from Peppa Pig to Sesame Street, Biff & Chip to Hey Duggee all have a range of teeth related books to inspire your little one
- Leading by example: one of the best ways for your baby to feel confident about brushing is to see you do it too, so get brushing!
Go meet your dentist
By the time your baby’s first milk tooth appears, you should book them in for their first dental appointment. Not only will your dentist be able to spot any potential issues at a glance, but they will offer you the best tips and advice on brushing techniques, kids toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Everything from minimising the chances of tooth decay, cavities and poor hygiene can all be discussed with your dentist too.
What’s more, your child needs to feel confident and at ease in the dentist’s chair. So the more familiar they are with the experience, the better they will feel with each visit.
How to care for your baby’s teeth
As we’ve mentioned, it’s never too early to start caring for your baby’s gums, but as they develop, there are a few extra things you can do:
- From around six months: Your baby is likely to get their first four front teeth (although some may not get their first until the 12-month mark). This is where you can introduce a toothbrush with no more than a smear or rice grain-sized amount of toothpaste
- Brush teeth thoroughly twice a day for two minutes: You can use a handy egg timer, invest in a brush with flashing lights or brush to your fave two-minute tune
- Always supervise your child while brushing, and don’t let them swallow any toothpaste
- For children 3-6 years old: You can introduce a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste (all children’s toothpaste brands are designed for specific stages in your little one’s development. Make sure you check the label before buying!)
- You can introduce flossing when two teeth touch
Baby tooth care matters. Fact! What steps will you take to establish good toothbrushing techniques with your baby?