Children’s teeth

Apart from cute smiles, children’s teeth help them eat, bite everything in sight and are also important in speech and helping the adult teeth appear in the right place. Children normally get twenty teeth, typically erupting around the age of six months and completed by the time they are two and a half years old.

iStock_000016695313MediumAppearing first, the front teeth need to last until around the age of six when the adult teeth begin to emerge while the child’s back teeth need to last until early teenage years. The early loss of front teeth can lead to speech difficulties while the early loss of back teeth can lead to adult teeth erupting too far forward and causing crowding and the need for orthodontics (braces). Careful cleaning and dietary care will help to keep teeth healthy and last the distance thoughout time.

Fluoride helps to make the teeth resistant to decay and slows down the growth of harmful bacteria. A common reason for early decay is giving children a bedtime bottle with milk or fruit juice. While normally healthy drinks, if allowed to sit on teeth for hours on end acids are formed in the plaque which start to dissolve the tooth structure. This also applies to dipping dummies in honey or syrup.

Cleaning children’s teeth should start as soon as they appear. Initially lightly rubbing a finger on the teeth for a minute or so a day will be fine. Once your child is used to this, change to a small soft toothbrush using water only. Once comfortable with this you can move on to the smallest amount of fluoride toothpaste on the brush. I found it best initially to use a child’s toothpaste as adult ones can have too strong a taste.

Children’s dexterity and thoroughness isn’t usually sufficient until at least the age of ten so it’s best to keep an eye on their brushing. You can also get tablet which shows areas being missed by the toothbrush and you can use these every now and then to help refine brushing techniques. Gentle flossing of the teeth is also advisable when any teeth contact each other. A visit to your dentist or dental nurse will give you personalised advice and to help catch problems early.

Let’s keep your child’s smile healthy and cute!