It’s such a momentous occasion when your baby’s first tooth appears. Between the ages of six to twelve months as many as eight teeth might arrive. Eventually your child will have twenty deciduous teeth to contend with, some of which will have to last until they’re 12 years of age, so it’s vital that these baby teeth stay the distance. Following these top tips should help.

It starts with mummy

Did you know that getting the right nutrients before and during (early) pregnancy will support your child’s tooth development? It’s important to ensure you’re receiving an adequate intake of:

Ready, set, BRUSH!

It may sound over the top, but as soon as your baby has his or her first tooth – get brushing! Use a baby toothbrush with no more than a smear of fluoride toothpaste. Gently brush the inside and outside before bed, and one other convenient time during the day. Get into the habit of brushing your teeth in front of your child to reinforce good hygiene habits. A smear of paste is sufficient until 3 years of age, after which you can increase to a pea-sized blob.

Encourage children to spit the toothpaste out and not swallow it. Start by brushing the teeth yourself, then guide their hand to show the proper technique of small, circular movements. It’s best to supervise your child until they’re seven years old, after which they should be able to brush well on their own (but it’s still worth checking).

Take them to the dentist

Starting early with your children’s dental health should help get them in the right mindset about protecting their teeth as they grow. You can when they’ve got a few milk teeth, around twelve months old. This gets them used to the sights, sounds and routine of the dental practice. Regular dental check-ups are important, and your dentist will send a reminder when the next appointment is due. Dental treatment is free on the NHS up to the age of 18 (or 19 for those in full-time education).

Dummies

We understand the appeal of dummies; they can calm a fractious baby and offer comfort at night. Unfortunately, the British Dental Health Foundation recommends that you , because they can affect how your baby’s teeth grow and develop. If a dummy is a must, use one with an orthodontic shape to minimise damage. Never dip the dummy in anything sweet to make it more appealing. If your child is a thumb-sucker, use incentives to encourage them to stop, as that can also cause crooked teeth. Braces can correct misaligned teeth, but it’s better to try and prevent it happening in the first place.

Baby Bottle Syndrome

When a baby is constantly drinking from a bottle filled with sugar-containing liquids such as formula and juice, it can cause early tooth decay, or ‘baby bottle syndrome’. If possible, move your baby onto a training cup at six months. Up until then, only give the bottle at specific times, and ensure you clean your baby’s gums with a damp cloth afterwards. It’s not advisable to let your baby go to sleep with a milk- or juice-filled bottle (and babies who constantly breastfeed through the night are also at risk). If your child needs a bottle to send them off to sleep, wait until they have nodded off and remove the bottle (or give them water instead).

Diet

Set an example for your children and encourage them to eat a healthy and varied diet. This is not always easy but will pay dividends for your child’s teeth. Don’t offer sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits, and sweets on a regular basis; save that for special occasions and treats. Offer milk and water instead of juice, squash, or fizzy drinks. Sugar-free drinks may not contain sugar, but they often contain other ingredients that can, such as phosphoric acid and citric acid, so it’s best to avoid them. Dairy products will help with their calcium intake. Other sources include green, leafy vegetables, almonds, sardines, and lentils.

Following the above advice should help your child develop and retain strong, healthy teeth and gums.

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