Everything you really want to ask a dentist about your baby’s teeth

Expert advice on baby’s teeth – from a dentist

So after Ethan’s first dentist appointment, I left with a tonne of questions that I was too flustered to ask – I’d been too busy repeating in my head “Please don’t let him kick off / I don’t want him to have bad memories of being at the dentist for life / I can’t believe I made it on time for this appointment / If I run out of here I might get time to get home and put a wash on before he needs feeding “.

So, I left with questions, but luckily for you, we’ve teamed up with expert dentist Dr Toni Lemm BDS DipFMS to answer 6 queries about your baby’s teeth.

But first, how cute is this dentist chair pic?

1. Do I really need to use baby specific toothpaste?

“I’ll do the scientific bit first: the difference in toothpaste for adults and children is all to do with the amount of Fluoride in the toothpaste.
Fluoride is what protects the teeth against tooth decay and is vital that you do use toothpaste with fluoride in. For children under the age of 3 years, adult toothpaste is too strong – this is because they may swallow some of the toothpaste when brushing which could make them sick.
Simply, for children of less than 3 years of age, use toothpaste with 1000ppm Fluoride and for 3 years and over, use a toothpaste with 1450ppm – this is normal adult toothpaste.
I know this can be confusing as at the supermarkets the children’s toothpastes will say ‘age 0-2 years’ and ‘age 3-6 years’ etc.

“My advice is to ignore what it says on the front, turn to the back and there will only be one number in the list of ingredients which will be 1000ppmF or 1450ppmF”Dr Lemm

2. Is it ok for my baby to share my tooth brush?

“I’d strongly recommend not to:
– A baby’s toothbrush needs to be the correct size for your baby’s small mouth and teeth, an adult toothbrush is too big and too hard to use and is ineffective at cleaning the teeth.
– You wouldn’t want to spread the bacteria from your mouth to your baby’s – if you had a cold sore you wouldn’t kiss your baby as you wouldn’t want to pass on the virus, right? If you were to use the same toothbrush you would pass on this virus, as you would a simple cold virus.”

3. My baby seems to love my electric toothbrush, from what age can I use an electric toothbrush on their teeth?

“You can buy electric toothbrushes for toddlers (2 years plus) as they can grip them and have the ability to brush themselves to an extent, but it is recommended children are supervised with brushing until the age of 8 years.
For baby’s, my advice is stick to a normal toothbrush and get them to hold it as well and have a go if they can.
It’s important for children to learn to use a normal toothbrush well first before moving onto an electric one as they need to master the brushing technique.”

4. My baby is grinding his top & bottom teeth together, should I be worried?

“This is just a habit and they will usually grow out of it. Sometimes when they are teething, they notice the teeth in the mouth for the first time so they are wondering what they are and thus will be exploring them! If you do notice that the teeth are becoming chipped or ‘worn away’ then please take them to see a dentist.”

5. I’m worried my baby is giving himself an under-bite – is this possible?

“Again this is just a habit and it cannot cause any damage so don’t worry.

There is one habit which can however have a negative effect – the use of a dummy.Dr Toni Lemm

Under the age of one, a dummy isn’t a big issue, however issues can arise when a child is still using a dummy at 18+ months for 6+ hours a day. The force of sucking a dummy or thumb for this amount of time causes the top jaw to under develop and it becomes narrow; this then affects the top front teeth which usually have an arch shape to them.
My advice is, if a child has a dummy over the age of 18 months it must be for less than 6 hours a day and if a dummy is still used at 3 years of age it needs to be stopped completely.”

6. My baby hates having his teeth brushed, are there any hints and tips to make it easier?

“You can make brushing your baby’s teeth easier by making it into a fun game to make it more enjoyable; for example when they have their evening bath you could introduce brushing here where they have their toys. However sometimes children will put up a fight twice a day not matter what tactics you try.

My advice is simple, be firm and consistent.

This has to be done and so if you have to force brush through tears then please do so (easier said than done I know!) but there will come a point when they do realise this happens twice a day regardless and will hopefully become more tolerable! The consequences of not brushing teeth combined with too much sugar is disastrous for children’s teeth and can result in a general anaesthetic to remove rotten teeth, an experience which is not at all pleasant for parents or the children.”

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