Q When should I start caring for my child’s teeth?

A As soon as your baby’s teeth appear, you should clean them with a wet piece of gauze or damp washcloth after feeding. When the rest of the teeth have come in, brush them gently with an extra-soft, baby tooth brush. It helps to have your child lay his/her head in your lap so you can see the teeth better when you brush.

Remember that the teeth of the babies who sleep with a bottle of milk (formula) or fruit juice in their mouth can suffer from decay known as Milk Bottle Tooth Decay. So the bottle should be removed as soon as the feed is over. Do not use the bottle as a pacifier.

Q When should I make my child’s first dental appointment?

A When your child is about a year old, it’s time he or she sees a dentist. Early visits can prevent minor problems from becoming major ones, and even though you are checking your child’s teeth, you may not recognise a problem. Don’t wait until there is a decayed or injured tooth to introduce your child to a dentist; make the first visit a positive one.

FIRST APPOINTMENT

· Familiarise your child with the dentist and his dental office by taking him or her along with you; letting your dentist know in advance allows time for getting acquainted.

· Do not scare him/her about the visit; your child has no reason to be afraid.

· Your child may enjoy a “ride” in the dental chair; perhaps your dentist will use the dental mirror to show your child his or her teeth.

· Take the cue from the dentist who’s experienced at dealing with children, and don’t expect perfect behaviour from your child.

Q How can I teach my child proper dental care?

A Imitation is the best way to teach your child how to brush and floss. Children as young as two years can learn to brush by watching you, although you should follow up with a thorough brushing of their teeth.

Get the children into the habit of brushing at least twice a day with a good, toothpaste and toothbrush which gives the maximum benefit to children. Parental supervision, is however, essential up to the age of six to prevent/minimise the swallowing of toothpaste and teach the correct technique of brushing. Ensure that children rinse and spit after brushing. Parents should also floss their toddler teeth. By the age of 10, children should be able to floss by themselves. Most of all, be sure to praise your child for clean teeth, a nice smile and good oral health habits!

Q How can we help avoid cavities?

A Out of all age groups, children are most susceptible to cavities. It’s important that they brush twice a day to remove plague, the colourless film of bacteria that forms on teeth and leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

A well-balanced and nutritious diet promotes good oral health, however, try and reduce “between-the meals snacks specially of foods which contain sugar or carbohydrates in order to inhibit acid formation in the mouth. Do not get into the habit of giving your child a sweet to stop a tantrum or as a reward.

And, remember, regular dental checkups are the key to healthy oral development!!!