It is just as important to protect these first teeth as the permanent teeth that follow. There are three important factors in the care of teeth: diet, cleaning, and prevention and treatment of decay by a dentist.
Diet and Babies Teeth
Sweet sticky foods will cause dental decay. A child’s food should not be over-sweetened; she should not be taught to regard sweets as a reward; she should not be given a lot of sweet drinks; and she should not have a dummy which has been dipped in jam, honey or any other sweet substance.
A child’s diet must include plenty of foods that contain calcium and Vitamin D. which are essential for healthy teeth and bone structure. These are the dairy foods such as milk and cheese, as well as eggs and cereals. Vitamin D is also formed in the skin by the action of sunlight.
Cleaning Babies Teeth
As soon as the first teeth begin to appear, the child should be bought a small toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles and be taught how to clean her teeth. It is not necessary to brush just up and down; any rotating movement can be used as long as the teeth are cleaned regularly. A child can be encouraged to brush frequently by being bought a specially shaped toothbrush (some have bells in the handle), and flavoured toothpaste. If a child sees her parents and family brushing their teeth it will encourage her to do so, until a habit has been formed.
Fluoride is a mineral that is present in drinking water, either naturally or because it has been added, and helps to prevent tooth decay. If there is not much present in the drinking water in their area, parents can obtain fluoride drops or tablets that can be given daily to babies, or, when the children get older, fluoride toothpaste can be used. Too much fluoride, however, can harm teeth, so parents should get advice from their dentist on whether or not fluoride supplements are needed in their district. It is the plaque that forms on teeth that causes tooth decay. This plaque feeds on sugary foods and forms acids which eat into the tooth enamel, so it is important that the teeth should be cleaned after every meal.
Treatment by a dentist
Parents should try to select a dentist who is sympathetic to the needs of small children and specialises in preventative dentistry as well as corrective treatment. Even small children can benefit from going to the dentist’s when their parents go, to get used to the dentist and to dental equipment. Parents should be as relaxed as possible as any nervousness will transfer to the child.
Sympathetic dentists will allow the child to ride in the chair and examine the equipment. They will begin to examine the child’s teeth every six months from about the age of three years. A child should not require fillings if correct care is given to the teeth regularly from an early age.