Dental care for children It’s never too early to begin teaching good oral hygiene to your children. Behaviours learnt when they’re young tend to stick with them throughout life. Tooth decay in children is on the rise in Australia, with more than half of all 6-year-olds having some decay in their baby or adult teeth. Where to start You should start caring for your child’s oral health from when they’re a baby and into their toddler years so by the time they reach 3 years of age or so, they are well-versed in what it takes to keep their teeth healthy. They will require assistance from you until about the age of 7 or 8 but even then, it’s a good idea to supervise them when they’re brushing and flossing their teeth. Tips to keep your child’s teeth clean
  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day, using small circular motions. Their teeth should be cleaned after eating and before bed using toothpaste with fluoride that is suitable for children. This can help to strengthen the outside of the teeth and prevent decay. Make sure they brush for at least 2 minutes and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
  • Try to get into a regular tooth brushing routine and give your child plenty of praise when they brush their teeth well.
  • Replace toothbrushes or toothbrush heads every 3 months.
  • Children should floss as soon as they have 2 teeth that are in contact with each other. You should supervise flossing until they are about 10.
  • To develop strong teeth, make sure your child eats a healthy, balanced diet and avoids foods with a lot of added sugar, such as lollies, biscuits and soft drinks. Always choose fluoridated tap water.
Baby teeth matter Yes, they eventually fall out to make way for adult teeth but that doesn’t mean cleaning them isn’t important. If decay causes them to be removed, it can cause crowding problems with their adult teeth emerge. Try using an egg timer to make keeping time fun for your child. Flossing, with parental assistance until the age of 10 or when they are deft enough to do it themselves, should start as soon as children have two teeth in contact.   Regular dentist visits Kicking off at the age of 1 at the latest, or within 6 months of the first tooth appearing, your child should see their dentist regularly and understand that visiting them is an important part of growing up. Always make a visit to the dentist a positive experience. Never use the dentist as a threat for not brushing teeth or other behaviour. Good eating and drinking habits To develop strong teeth, your children need a healthy, balanced diet made up of fresh foods such as vegetables, cheese and lean meats, minimal high-sugar foods such as biscuits and muesli bars, and fluoridated tap water.  
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