Helping your child to look after his or her teeth from an early age is of course very important. All the time those baby teeth are coming through, the next set of (adult) teeth are being formed and bringing up the rear. So it is vital to pay attention to both the temporary baby teeth and the lifelong adult teeth. Children’s teeth start developing before birth. Milk teeth are very small and begin to be replaced by permanent teeth from around the age of six.
Your child only needs two beverages to drink - water and milk
And the water should be pure, filtered, fluoride-free and the milk preferably breast milk or raw dairy milk. A big part of course is healthy eating habits and avoiding all fruity, sugary drinks.
As soon as the first baby tooth appears, you can start to use a small soft toothbrush to keep the tooth, gums and tongue clean twice a day. It does not matter how thorough you are at the start – it is more a matter of getting your child used to the routine. Be very gentle and patient and avoid commercial toothpastes which are actually poisonous to children - rather use a natural toothpaste with safe ingredients. Be especially wary of fluoride in toothpastes and do your own research online regarding this harmful additive. You will find plenty of choice for natural toothpastes in health stores or online.
The best method is to sit your child on your lap, have a cuddle and then tilt the head up gently while cleaning each tooth in a circular motion. You can make a game of rinsing and spitting out the toothpaste afterwards. If your child doesn't want to brush, let him brush your teeth first. By the age of three, you can start to encourage them to start using the toothbrush themselves but under your watchful eye until school going age. When your child is older, an electric toothbrush is an excellent choice. Setting a timer to 2 minutes is another useful aid when children are cleaning their teeth. Caring for milk teeth teaches children how to care for their permanent teeth.
Never ignore broken or damaged milk teeth
These play an extremely important role in your child’s development as follows:
- They determine facial appearance and speech development.
- They determine the growth pattern of permanent teeth.
- They help children to advance to eating solid food.
I read about such a good idea that one parent uses. She enlist's the help of the “tooth fairy” by telling a story of how the tooth fairy checks their teeth every night when they are asleep to make sure that they are beautiful because she wants to collect the very best teeth when they fall out. You can add the extra bit about how there will be a surprise from the tooth fairy when that day comes if they can give her strong, healthy teeth.
Going to the dentist
Parents should take their child to the dentist as soon as the very first tooth appears or after their first birthday. Prepare them for the dentist by encouraging your child to explore his or her own mouth several times before the appointment. Do a ‘cave search’ using a torch and a mirror. Book with a child-friendly dentist who will look out for early problems and ensure the experience is a positive one for your child.
Cavities are the number one problem in children’s dental health.
10 excellent suggested steps to prevent cavities
Follow these from an very early age for preventing cavities in your children. All the tips come from this website
1. As soon as your baby has teeth, wipe them clean after each meal. While breast milk actually contains natural cavity fighters, formula does not.
2. Do not allow your formula fed baby to go to sleep with a bottle, unless you plan on cleaning his teeth with a wipe and tooth gel after he is asleep.
3. If your baby uses a pacifier, brush it daily. Do not put her pacifier in your mouth and then into hers. Bacteria from your mouth will grow in her mouth. This is especially a no-no if you have cavity/gum problems yourself.
4. As soon as your child’s teeth are close together, begin flossing daily. Both of my children had cavities in the middle of their front two teeth. A little flossing would have saved these teeth.
5. Do not use fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride rinse. You can make your own rinse with water and xylitol.
6. Do use a toothpaste/gel which contains xylitol. You can begin using a baby gel as soon as the teeth come in when you use Spry Infant Tooth Gel. You can learn more about xylitol and the many benefits it provides, especially when you use it to replace the sugar in your foods. Xylitol helps kill the cavity causing bacteria in your child’s mouth, and when replacing the sugar with xylitol, you are helping double-fold.
7. Cut back on processed foods, chips, white bread, candy, and soda (you get the idea). Do not allow your child to walk around with a bottle or sippy cup, unless you put water in it. Constantly bathing your child’s teeth in sugary juice is a BIG no-no. A great candy alternative is a healthy xylitol product called Sparx. You can get it in Berry, Fruit, and Citrus. Once your child can chew gum, you can also add another xylitol product like Spry Fresh Fruit Gum. Do not use other “sugar-free” gums that contain artificial sweeteners in addition to xylitol. Artificial sweeteners should be avoided for other health reasons.
8. Allow your toddler to brush his teeth, and then brush them yourself afterwards. Children need help until the age of 7 or 8. Twice a day is adequate, three times a day is even better. For toddlers, a battery powered toothbrush with an oscillating head works great since they can simply hold the toothbrush on different teeth and get a lot done that way.
9. Examine your child’s teeth daily, looking for dark spots, holes, and chipped teeth. If anything looks “off,” call your dentist and make an appointment. It’s better to be safe than sorry! A small cavity is much easier (and cheaper) to handle than a large one that has been neglected.
10. Good oral health starts from the inside. To keep teeth (and the rest of the body!) at their healthiest, feed your child healthy foods and don’t forget a daily multivitamin. ALL children need a daily vitamin/mineral supplement. Increase Vitamin D intake during fall/winter when sunshine exposure goes down. RDA levels are way lower than what children should be taking. Given along with a raw dairy diet, my kids finally got an "all good" dentist visit after supplementing with Vitamin D during fall/winter. (I gave them each 5,000 IU about 3-4 times per week.)
Help your children to cherish and look after their teeth for a lifetime of activity.