Most children will start life with good healthy teeth.
Dental care for toddlers is imperative though if that is to be maintained.
When to start dental care for toddlers
It’s a little difficult to be definitive because children will gain their 20 ‘milk teeth’ at different ages, though most should have the full set by around 24 months.
From a fairly early age (only you and your baby’s tooth arrival schedule can say exactly when to start but around 12 months is fairly common), some very gentle brushing with a special baby toothbrush is a good idea – perhaps twice a day.
At 18 months you can start using a tiny amount (perhaps pea-sized) of baby-friendly fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist or pharmacist will confirm quantities and suitable brands.
Somewhere around the age of 24-30 months, your child can start to help to brush their own teeth but remember to always be present and don’t leave your toddler alone with a toothbrush while you go off to do something else.
Some babies have milk teeth that are irregular and they don’t always come out in any particular sequence. In general terms, minor irregularities are not a concern but if a tooth seems to be growing at a very odd angle or is making it difficult for your toddler to chew without damaging their cheek or gum, you should consult a dentist without delay.
It’s also important to check for signs of infection and gum disease.
- inflamed gums around the site of teeth;
- signs of what appears to be “white stuff” on or in the gum;
- discharges from around a tooth;
- a bad smell emanating from your toddler’s mouth.
Don’t panic because “teething” can be a slightly difficult time for babies and toddlers. Slight inflammation and soreness are far from uncommon but if you’re in any doubt, consult your dentist again.
Healthy teeth in toddlers are driven by two things:
- to some extent, genetics. Strong healthy teeth tend to run in families, as do some types of teeth problems. As of today, there’s nothing you can do to influence that. However;
- the extent to which you care for your child’s teeth will also make a big difference.
In terms of that second point:
- brush regularly, as advised by your dentist, with a fluoride baby-safe toothpaste;
- don’t let your child consume too much by way of chocolate and other sweeties containing sugars. That also applies to cakes and biscuits;
- take advice (as this can vary by dentist) on how much acidic fruit and pure fruit juice they should be consuming to reduce the amount of possible tooth damage that acid can generate;
- avoid, except for odd treats, fizzy or other drinks containing high sugar levels. Take your doctor’s advice on drinks containing artificial sweeteners, as many would advise avoiding those too even if perhaps for different reasons;
- keep the processed sugar levels down in food you’re preparing or buying for your toddler to eat.
Above all, tell your child from the earliest age how important it is to look after their teeth and the relationship between what they’re eating/drinking and teeth health.