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Tips to Help Your Children Keep Their Healthy, Happy Smiles

Happy children smiling

Many parents of young children have questions about their children’s teeth. From teething to the first dentist visit, here are some simple tips to keep in mind:

Before your baby has teeth

Nursing problems

If your baby is having problems nursing, they could be suffering from a tongue-tie. Ask your baby’s doctor or lactation consultant – they may refer you to a paediatric dentist to examine and correct the tongue-tie.

Oral hygiene

Just because your baby doesn’t have teeth doesn’t mean that you don’t need to worry about their oral care. It’s a good idea to wash your baby’s gums daily with a clean, damp washcloth to help remove oral bacteria. Make this part of your baby’s daily hygiene routine and you’ll find the transition to brushing your baby’s teeth much easier.

Take care with bottles

If your baby is using a bottle it’s important that you don’t put them to bed with the bottle. Not only could your baby choke on any liquid in his or her mouth while laying down, any milk or formula residue left in your baby’s mouth could corrode gums and eventually their teeth.

Soothers

Soothers are a great comfort to your baby, and to you! But beware of soothers – long-term use can cause orthodontic issues as teeth start to form. If your baby uses a soother look to buy one that is designed by a dentist or orthodontist.

It’s really important that you check your baby’s soother for wear and tear. Soothers can be a choking hazard. Talk to your doctor about how to use a soother safely.

When your baby is teething

Your baby’s teeth will start to push through the gums between 3 – 14 months of age. Each baby is different and early or late teething is not a cause for concern.

Brushing

Once your baby’s first teeth come in it’s important to start brushing. Use a toothbrush designed for infants under two years of age and use infant toothpaste (that is safe to swallow).

Teething pain

Unfortunately, teething is going to be painful for your baby (and for you). Sleepless nights lay ahead. You can help your baby by getting a clean washcloth wet and then freezing it. The cold sensation will help soothe your baby’s gums. There are lots of tricks to help comfort your baby’s sore gums during teething. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to help ease your baby’s pain.

When to schedule your child’s first dentist appointment

A general rule of thumb is to have your baby visit your dentist before their first birthday. Talk to your dentist about when to schedule your child’s first dental appointment.

Going to the dentist is a new experience and some children are hesitant or worried about what will happen. Take some time to talk to your child about the first visit. There are some great books out there about going to the dentist. Here are few titles you can get from your local library. Read these to your child to help them prepare for the dentist and know that there’s nothing to fear:

Check out Ontario’s Healthy Smiles Program

Children under the age of 17 may be eligible for the province’s Healthy Smiles Program which offers free dental care to children who qualify.

Caring for your child’s teeth is an important responsibility. Set them up with good dental habits now so that they can keep a healthy, happy smile for years to come.