The Seahorse Nursery is very much aware that tooth decay and gum disease are two of the most common, and entirely preventable, dental problems for children. Recent statistics have identified that 1 in 8 three year olds suffers from tooth decay. Developing good teeth brushing habits from a young age can be fundamental in preventing tooth decay.
- Introduce your baby to having their gums and teeth cleaned from an early age, certainly by the time the first tooth comes through. Use a little bit of cloth or small soft toothbrush to clean the teeth so your child gets used to it.
- As more teeth come through, brush regularly and then encourage them to do their own brushing with supervision from you.
- Birth – 3 years, use a flat smear of children’s toothpaste with 1000ppm (parts per million) of fluoride in it.
- After the age of 3, a small pea sized amount of children’s toothpaste can be used.
- Brush, twice day for 2 minutes– last thing to touch a child’s teeth before bedtime should be a fluoride toothpaste (not a bottle of milk).
- When brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, please do not rinse your child’s mouth after brushing as you will wash away the fluoride and lose its protective effect. ‘Spit-don’t rinse’ is the mantra!
What is fluoride and why is it important?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water. It helps prevent cavities and the eventual decay and loss of teeth by helping to protect and even rebuild the enamel, or hard covering, on your teeth. In some areas of the UK, fluoride is also added to the drinking water. (A recent report from Public Health England showed that 45% fewer children aged 1-4 living in fluoridated areas are admitted to hospital for tooth decay than in non-fluoridated areas.
- Early weeks of baby’s life are straightforward with milk being the sole food.
- Around 6 months you can encourage your child to drink from a free flowing or open top cup, so that bottle use does not continue past their first birthday
- Try and keep food and drink to mealtimes and avoid giving your child any food or drink with the exception of water in the hour before going to bed.
- Aim to limit food and drink that contains sugar including those that are said to be healthy, such as dried fruit or flavoured water.
- Water should be made regularly available to your child from around the age of 6 months.
- Your child is less likely to get decay if their teeth are given a rest from food and drinks other than water between meal times.
- Never leave your baby or toddler with a feeding bottle or trainer cup in their mouth for long periods of time, such as when they go to bed.
- Never dip a bottle or pacifier in sweet or fruit based drinks.
- Do not put drinks other than milk in your baby’s bottle or add anything to milk such as sugar or honey as this can be very damaging to teeth.
- Wherever possible ask for sugar-free medication for your child
- The frequency of sugar is worse than the quantity