How to care for your baby's teeth
How do I care for my baby’s teeth?
One of the things that can make parents anxious when it comes to baby care is how to care for their teeth. What products should we use, how often, when should we take our baby to the dentist for the first time etc?
I interviewed Katie, a dentist and owner of My Habox and asked all of your burning questions about tooth care for little ones.
A little introduction:
Hi! I’m Katie and I'm a dentist and I live in the south-west of England with my wife and step-son. I became a dentist 11 years ago and I quickly realised that treating children was probably the best part of my day, so I spent a long time trying to help and support parents and children to create effective routines that result in healthy teeth.
It didn’t work and I realised quickly that if you see a dentist every 6 months for 10 minutes you’re unlikely to make much change to your routine. If you need to make a change, you need a consistent routine. So essentially me and my wife created Habox, which is essentially a dental subscription service that is supposed to help fill the gap between dental visits. The exciting thing is that all the products are designed to help create habits. Habits, once formed, take very little energy because they become automatic, we don’t have to think about them.
We’re trying to move brushing from a deliberate action that requires energy, and therefore, sometimes resistance, to something that just happens automatically. We tested it on our son, who is a perfect brusher (because we’ve built habit cycles with him) - so that’s what we wanted to build into our product.
So that’s how we started.
It’s exciting to have something delivered as well, in the post, for a child so that helps motivate them.
I don’t want to take teeth out of children anymore. They squeal when we take a tooth out. I feel for the parents. It’s horrific. And the guilt they must be feeling. I always feel for the child, but also for the parents. The stats are horrifying. 48% 8 years have decay. nothing to do with bad parenting. Pretty much every snack you buy for a child in a supermarket, will cause decay, if it’s eaten as a snack. It’s almost impossible to do the right thing.
When should I take my baby to the dentist for the first time?
BSPD recommends that it’s time for baby’s first dentist visit when the first tooth appears, or when then turn 1, which ever comes first.
When will my baby’s first tooth appear?
On average, the first tooth appears roughly around the 6 months mark, but it varies. The first tooth will almost always be at the front of the mouth and on the bottom. (At that point, book a dentist visit if possible)
What will happen at my baby’s first dentist visit?
We don’t do much at the first appointment, we ask what they’re doing, how they’re coping with brushing etc. We talk about bottle and breast feeding, give general advice on how to take care of babies mouth. I like to see babies every 3 months, for the repetitive contact. If I’ve seen a baby regularly, by the time they’re a bit older they’re quite chilled and trusting.
What if I’m unable to get in to see a dentist?
First and foremost, don’t feel bad if your child hasn’t seen a dentist.
What is the best toothpaste to use for my baby?
Katie recommends: Brush baby toothpaste
Brush baby toothpaste is the best as it has the right strength of fluoride, which prevents tooth decay and strengthens teeth. It’s also one of the only babies toothpaste that has xylitol in it, which is an ingredient used in chewing gum and is a natural sweetener. It inhibits bacteria from producing acid, which causes decay. It is also SLS free, SLS is the foaming agent in toothpaste that grown ups tend to like because it creates that cool, clean feeling. That feeling, however, can be quite a painful sensation for children as their gums are sensitive to it. This toothpaste also tastes like apples.
How much toothpaste should I use for my baby?
For babies up to 12 months, use a grain of rice size, making sure to smear it into the bristles so that they can’t immediately swallow all of it. It doesn’t matter how many teeth they have or have not got. Don’t put more on the brush if they suck it off.
When should I increase the amount of toothpaste?
Don’t worry too much about increasing the amounts of toothpaste as they get a little bit older, concentrate on establishing a routine first. Start small. Progress, not perfection.
As they get older, they will need a pea sized amount, this is also the recommended amount for grown ups.
What is the best tooth brush to use for my baby?
A bamboo brush with medium bristles is recommended. Also, baby gum wipes are great for keeping your little ones gums clean. (Wipes - jack n jill) Wipes help get baby used to having gums cleaned and should lead a little easier into the introduction of their first toothbrush. All of these things are provided in age appropriate My Habox subscription boxes.
My toddler hates having their teeth cleaned, how can I get them used to it?
Number 1: DON’T WORRY! Get back to basics, just focus on twice a day, even if it’s for a few seconds. Use a softer brush if possible. There are silicone finger brushes available, such as the ones we found here on Amazon. Try a different type of toothpaste with no SLS (foaming agent). You can also let them watch you brush your teeth, let them brush your teeth if possible - just building good routine and habits and not stressing about it is important.
My Habox supplies toothache subscription boxes from birth. Click here to find out more.
‘Health is in the habits’