We are open, restrictions have eased for all dental treatments – Covid-19 update
We are open, restrictions have eased for all dental treatments – Covid-19 update

Dental Advice For New Parents

In this blog entry Dr Darryl Marsh writes... Your new baby’s teeth actually started to form in their jawbone before birth. Find out everything you need to know about baby dental care.

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.

Some questions we receive about baby dental care

QuestionHow 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.

“Primary care giver bacteria transfer is something that we inform all of our patients about when they are pregnant, or have babies and toddlers. Read my article about caring for your oral health and that of your children through pregnancy to find out how to give yourself and your new child the best dental start in life.” – Chanelle, one of our Dental Hygienist Team

Question: What is Primary Care Giver Bacteria Transfer and how does it occur?

Although this seems like a complicated name, what it boils down to is that when your newborn comes into this world, they are born with a ‘sterile mouth’. The development of the bacteria in their mouth is heavily influenced by the transfer of bacteria from their primary carer. Whilst this is usually Mum, let’s not rule out Dad, siblings, Grandma and even Aunty Flo!

If any one of these people has active decay in their mouth and the bacteria that accompanies it, then this bacteria can transfer to the baby to establish their own bacteria environment. Whilst newborns with their sterile environment are most susceptible in the days following birth, their oral bacteria environment is open to transfers from primary carers well into their toddler years.

So how do transfers occur? Kissing on the lips is one of the leading causes but others include, dummies cleaned in adults mouths and spoon sharing.

We don’t want anyone to stop kissing their babies so the best way to avoid this transfer is to ensure that all primary carers and siblings have no decay, maintain good and regular oral hygiene habits and visit their dentist for regular check-ups.

“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.”

QuestionWhat 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.

QuestionIs 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.

Keep Smiling!

Darryl Marsh

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