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How to care for your child’s teeth

It’s never too early to begin teaching good oral hygiene to your children. Behaviours learnt when they’re young tend to stick with them throughout life.


Did you know that over 4 out of 10 children aged 5 to 10 had some decay in their baby teeth, and over 3 out of 10 children aged 9 to 14 had decay in their permanent teeth, according to data from the Australian Dental Association?


As parents, we can improve this scenario with simple actions:


Where to start


You should start caring for your child’s oral health from when they are a baby and into their toddler years so by the time they reach 3 years of age or so, they are well-versed in what it takes to keep their teeth healthy. They will require assistance from you until about the age of 7 or 8 but even then, it’s a good idea to supervise them when they’re brushing and flossing their teeth.


Ensure they brush their teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, remembering to brush for at least two minutes at a time. Try using an egg timer to make keeping time fun for your child. For newborns, wipe the gums with a wet cloth or pad to keep the mouth clean.


Flossing once a day, with parental assistance until the age of 10 or when they are deft enough to do it themselves, should start as soon as children have two teeth in contact.


Baby teeth matter


You may wonder why baby teeth matter since they are going to fall out of the mouth one day. Baby teeth have many important roles in the mouth. They are needed for eating, speaking and smiling. Baby teeth help keep the space in the jaws for adult teeth. Your child will lose their first baby tooth around age 6 when the adult teeth begin to come into the mouth. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, talk to your child’s dentist about options to keep the correct space in the mouth for the adult tooth to come in normally. 


Regular dentist visits


Kicking off at the age of 1 at the latest, or within 6 months of the first tooth appearing, your child should see their dentist regularly and understand that visiting them is an important part of growing up. If you receive benefits such as Family Tax Benefit A payments, you can take advantage of government programs such as the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.


Good eating and drinking habits


What your child eats and drinks can hurt their baby teeth. Some drinks including fruit juice and soda can be high in sugar or acid. Limit sugary treats like cookies, too. Sugar and acid can make the outer shell (enamel) of teeth weak and put teeth at a higher risk for cavities.

To develop strong teeth, your children need a healthy, balanced diet made up of fresh foods such as vegetables, cheese and lean meats, and fluoridated tap water.


Dental trauma


Accidents happen! And when they do, your kids' teeth may get knocked out or damaged. Familiarising yourself with dental first aid means that you will be well prepared for handling dental trauma correctly.


Article originally published by ADA

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