As a family dentist we like to make sure your children also have healthy teeth from the moment the first one comes through.
Dental care should begin at an early age. Plaque will begin to form as soon as a child’s first tooth arrives. Brushing teeth twice a day, a balanced diet and regular check-ups at the dentist are essential to ensuring healthy teeth and gums for life.
It is recommended to bring your child for inspections from an early age with the date of their first examination around 2 years old. Do not wait until they have toothache.
For more information visit the NHS website.
Taking Care of Children’s Teeth
Here at Haynesdental we provide treatment to children FREE on the NHS.
Our PCT in Lambeth has recently published new guidelines for the care of childrens’ teeth – they state that:
For children aged up to 3 years:
- Breastfeeding is best for babies
- From 6 months infants should be introduced to drinking from a cup
- From 12 months infants should NOT be drinking from bottles
- Fruit juice or sugary drinks should NEVER be drunk from bottles
- Sugar should not be added to any foods or drinks
- As soon as teeth erupt parents should start brushing
- Parents should brush their children’s teeth twice a day
- A smear of toothpaste should be used
- Toothpaste should contain no less than 1000ppm of fluoride
For children aged 3-6 years:- Brush teeth last thing at night and one other occasion in the day, brushing should be supervised by an adult
- Use a pea sized amount of toothpaste containing 1350-1500 ppm fluoride
- Spit out after brushing but do not rinse
- Reduce the frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks and only allow them at mealtimes
- Sugars should not be consumed more than four times per day
- Ensure medication is sugar free
If you have a child who we feel is at increased risk of developing dental decay we may ask you to bring them in more than twice a year, and we may recommend fluoride varnishing, fluoride supplements or fissure sealing. These options are available if there is cause for concern and the dentist will only recommend treatments that he/she feels are necessary.
The information below might answer any questions you may have, but if you would like to speak to a dentist then please call us on 020 8674 1838.
How do children’s teeth develop?Your child’s first teeth will normally have developed in the womb. The milk teeth will then begin to come through between the ages of 4 and 7 months. You’ll notice your baby’s first tooth pushing through the gum line, this is the time to start thinking about cleaning it!The first teeth to appear are usually the two bottom front teeth, also known as the central incisors. These are usually followed 4 to 8 weeks later by the four front upper teeth (central and lateral incisors). About a month later, the lower lateral incisors (the two teeth flanking the bottom front teeth) will appear. Next to break through the gum line are the first molars (the back teeth used for grinding food), then finally the eyeteeth (the pointy teeth in the upper jaw). Most children have all 20 of their primary teeth by their third birthday. (If your child experiences significant delay, speak to your doctor.)
In some rare cases, kids are born with one or two teeth or have a tooth emerge within the first few weeks of life. Unless the teeth interfere with feeding or are loose enough to pose a choking risk, this is usually not a cause for concern.
Adult teeth, or molars, come through around the age of 5. They appear at the back of the mouth. After this happens, children begin to lose their ‘milk’ teeth. The lower front teeth are usually lost first. By the age of 13 all adult teeth should be in place (except wisdom teeth).
When do wisdom teeth appear and will my child have problems?Wisdom teeth can arrive at any time after the age of 18 and it is a common misconception that they always cause problems. As long as your child is going to visit the dentist regularly you should have fair warning if the wisdom teeth are going to cause a problem later.
At what age should I start taking my child to the dentist?Here at Haynesdental we strongly encourage you to bring your children to the dentist for their regular six monthly check up as soon as they are 2 or 3 years old. Even if they have no official appointment we recommend that children should start coming to the dentist as soon as possible – every time someone in the family has an appointment then bring them along too! A child who sees his relatives having a pain free experience at the dentist is more likely to trust the dentist the first time they get in the chair. These visits will prepare them for their future appointments.We normally like to see children for their first examination at around 2 and a half years of age. You should then bring them regularly, as often as your dentist recommends – normally every six months. Remember, good habits started now will last them through life and the earlier these visits begin, the more relaxed the children will be.
My child is worried about visiting the dentist – what can I doRegular visits to the dentist are essential in helping your child to get used to the surroundings and what goes on there. In the practice we recognise that children can be scared of the dentist – even the uniforms and masks we wear, or the smells, can make a child nervous so we try to keep them at ease at all times.If you are fearful of the dentist yourself then it is important not to let your children see that. Try to be reassuring if you have any worries discuss them with the dentist when your child is not with you.
If you have a child that is nervous, please let us know and we will be happy to try and put them at ease. We can talk them through any procedures and show them the equipment so that they are less fearful about what we are doing.
For those children that are really nervous we can refer them to the dental team in hospital for sedation, but hopefully if you have followed the above advice it will not be necessary.
What can I do to prepare my child for their visit to the dentist?For younger children we recommend that you prepare them for their visit by playing ‘dentists’ with them at home: let them dress up as dentists and pretend to give you an examination – you can even examine their cuddly toys and give their dolls a check up! There are also a number of books published about going to the dentist (see below) that may help you discuss with them what may happen during their visit and help allay their fears.Older children may appreciate being shown this website – show them the animations on the site and the picture of the dentist (see here) that is going to see them and talk through their fears. Again, books may help.
All these things mean that your child will know what to expect when they come and is less likely to be scared. We are all friendly dentists here and do not want our patients, young or old, to be scared of us!
Do you provide sedation?Whilst we provide local anaesthetics, we do not offer general anaesthetic or sedation at this clinic – if your child requires this they will be referred to hospital.
What is the best way to clean my child’s teeth?From the minute your baby starts getting teeth they should be having them cleaned morning and night. When your baby is teething they may even find it soothing having their teeth cleaned – especially as you need to make sure that you rub their gums too. Just use a small soft toothbrush or rubber brush that goes on the end of your finger, and a small amount of children’s toothpaste.Remember, that children should not be left to brush their teeth unsupervised until the age of 7 as their manual dexterity is not developed enough. We would suggest that you offer them lots of encouragement to help them learn the best way of cleaning and that you hep them by gently holding their chin in your hands so you can reach all the sides of their teeth easily. You may find it easier to stand behind them.
If possible make tooth brushing the last thing your child does before going to bed and that includes brushing after their bedtime bottle or breastfeed. Remember that breast milk and formula are high in sugars and leaving them on the teeth overnight can result in tooth decay by the time your child even comes to the dentist for their first visit.
Children who have their 20 milk teeth should be brushing their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time – sometimes it is useful to use a timer – we normally give these out free to children who see us at Haynesdental. Try not to treat tooth brushing as a chore – a good way to encourage tooth brushing when they are younger is by giving them a new toothbrush and toothpaste set for a present – you will be amazed how often they will want to use their new ‘present’.
Do I need to use fluoride toothpaste?In London, the PCT recommends that all children up to 3 years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1000ppm (parts per million). Once a child is three years old, they should use a toothpaste that contains 1350ppm-1500ppm of fluoride. Most family toothpastes have a level of 1400 ppm, some children’s toothpastes are much lower: please check the level of fluoride on the packaging of the toothpaste. Please do make sure though that children spit out the toothpaste and rinse their mouth in order to avoid swallowing as little as possible.
What sort of brush should children use?For babies with teeth just starting to emerge we recommend rubber brushes that go over your finger allowing you to clean the teeth with some dexterity.Once your baby has more than 3 or 4 teeth through, there are many different types of toothbrush to choose from – it all depends on your taste and budget and what suits your child – perhaps when they are a bit older you can let them choose one they like the look of – as long as it has the suitable head size for the age of your child.
When your child is much older and brushing independently it might be worth looking into getting them their own electric toothbrush or their own heads for yours – as long as they are supervised when they are using it and don’t press too hard they can be very effective.