In this blog entry Dr Darryl Marsh writes... Your new baby’s teeth actually started to form in their jawbone before birth.
A baby’s first baby teeth, also known as ‘primary teeth’ usual erupt at about six months of age but this can occur as early as birth or as late as the child’s first birthday. Parents know this important development milestone as ‘teething’ as it can result in many a sleepless night.
When to start dental visits and brushing teeth?
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends that the first dental check-up occurs at around one year of age and for children’s teeth to be cleaned as soon as the first primary tooth erupts.
Whilst we are happy to look at a child’s mouth anytime their parent suspects there might be a problem, I recommend to my patients to begin their child’s regular dental visits from the age of 4.
The ADA has set up a great website devoted to health eating, oral hygiene and tooth development in babies. Visit Baby Teeth for more advice and tips for maintaining your babies oral health.
Some questions I receive about a baby’s dental care
Question: How bad is it to give a baby their milk bottle at bedtime?
Known as Milk bottle syndrome or Nursing bottle syndrome, this is a major cause of early childhood cavities or tooth decay.
Research shows that generally breastfed babies have less cavities than bottle-fed babies. The reason for that is falling asleep with a mouthful of milk. Whether it’s cow’s milk or breastmilk, it’s all fermentable, and therefore all going to be able to be converted into acid that can cause tooth cavities.
The advantage of breastfeeding is that you haven’t got the child falling asleep with the teet releasing milk into their mouth. So if you are bottle feeding it’s important to ensure your baby does not fall asleep with the teet inside their mouth. Sending baby to bed with water is a good idea.
Anything other than water contains carbohydrates that can be fermented used to produce acid and cause tooth decay. Juices are especially bad and I would recommend avoiding these, particularly before bedtime. It is also a good idea to get your baby into a regular routine of tooth brushing once they have teeth.
Question: What is the difference between children’s toothpaste and adult’s toothpaste?
It is a good idea to use children’s toothpaste on your child as opposed to the adult version due to the level of fluoride contained in the toothpaste.
My colleague Dr David Kerr talked about this exact topic recently in our ‘Ask a Dentist’ section – see what he has to say about children’s toothpaste.
“A babies first visit to the dentist can often be a good way to just get familiar with the environment, the dentist, the chair – and to realise that being at the dentist is not a scary experience, but can be fun.”
Question: Is there anything else to consider when taking my child to the dentist?
It is worth checking on the facilities offered by the dentist that will simply make your life a little easier. Many of our patient’s remark on our dedicated kids room, not only are their kids safe and supervised whilst siblings have their appointment, some kids actually look forward to the games, DVD’s or toys we offer.