The best time to bring children to the dentist should be as soon as the first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. This will allow your pediatric dentist to teach you how to care for your child’s developing dentition and prevent dental problems.
Dental care can start before the teeth show up! Infant gum pads can be wiped with soft silicone finger brush or with clean linen or gauze. When the baby teeth start coming out, you can use a soft bristled kiddie toothbrush with a smaller head. Encourage good habits for your child by brushing their teeth at least twice a day!
Some kids tend to cry when their teeth are being brushed. They cry not because brushing is painful, but because they may just not like staying put! When your child is really <resistant>, you can brush their teeth in the knee-to-knee position with another adult to keep them steady. Your dentist can teach you the best position to brush their teeth.
Children can already use fluoride toothpaste for kids which contain a smaller amount of fluoride than the adult toothpaste. Use a grain-of-rice-sized amount for children aged 2 years and below, and a pea-sized amount for children 3 years and above. If your child is 6 years old, they can use the same amount used by adults.
The amount of fluoride in toothpaste for kids has been regulated for their safety. They can ingest a small amount of toothpaste when brushing, but this amount is not of immediate concern! Fluoride safety only becomes an urgent concern if a child swallows a whole tube’s worth of toothpaste.
When your baby is purely breastfed, there is low risk for tooth decay. However, when your child starts eating solids and/or transitions to bottlefeeding with formula milk, the risk becomes higher. Bottlefeeding with formula becomes a serious cause of tooth decay if your child takes too long to finish a bottle and consumes several bottles especially during naptime and bedtime
Stopping a child who is bottlefeeding may be easier said than done, but we have some tips: While this is ideal, it may not always be easily achievable. Some tips that can help with the weaning process are to: (1) time it without stressful events about to take places, (2) let the child pick their own cups to transition, (3) eliminate gradually, (4) try a comfort replacement such as a blanket or stuffed animal, (5) dilute the milk in the bottle.
If your child keeps eating a lot of sweet, sugary foods several times a day, tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste alone may not be enough to protect your child’s teeth! Monitoring their diet, encouraging frequent water intake, and consulting with your child’s dentist can help manage the tooth decay.
Baby teeth are as important as permanent teeth! They help when your child is still learning how to speak clearly, they aid in chewing naturally, and they serve as a guide for the permanent teeth when they erupt. When baby teeth develop dental decay, your child can go through a severe toothache and dental infection!
Right after the incident, try to stay calm and look for the tooth! If the tooth is still inside the mouth, go to the nearest dentist, preferably one who is used to managing children. If a baby tooth was knocked out, don’t put it back and bring the child to the nearest dentist. If a permanent tooth was knocked out, hold it by the crown and try reinserting it. If you’re not sure, you can put the tooth in water or milk and bring the child to the nearest dentist, preferably one who has trained in pediatric dentistry.
You can give your child over the counter pain medication like paracetamol (Biogesic, Tempra, Calpol, etc) on a short term basis, but if the pain lasts for more than a day, gets worse at night and/or your child develops a fever or swelling, you should bring them to the dentist for a consult.
Your child may need to be sedated if they are too young or unable to comprehened the extent of dental treatment involved. To ensure a safe and low-risk procedure, your dentist will refer you to your child’s pediatrician for a medical evaluation and clearance. It is best to have your child who needs sedation treated by a dentist affiliated with PPDSI and has undergone training in pediatric dentistry.