Baby Teeth Matter!
As a parent, you have a very important role in helping keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong. Prevention of cavities and dental disease begins at home with good eating habits and daily cleaning of teeth and gums.
Make tooth brushing a pleasant experience where possible and remember to set an example by brushing your own teeth regularly.
- You should start to clean your infant’s mouth soon after birth. This will develop the habit for yourself and your baby. Regular mouth care will ease teething discomfort by massaging the gums.
- By having the child lay comfortably in your lap, you can create a bonding experience between you and your child.
- Your child’s 1st birthday is the perfect time for his/her 1st dental visit.
- By age 2, your child should be encouraged to try brushing, however, it’s important that you finish the job to make sure teeth are thoroughly cleaned.
- A very small amount of children’s toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, can be used.
Early childhood tooth decay, once called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, is a cavity in the tooth of a toddler or baby. A cavity is a rotten hole in the tooth. Cavities can spread to other teeth and cause pain and other serious sicknesses.
How can you check for tooth decay?
Lift the lip and look at the teeth for any white, yellow, brown, or black spots. If you have any questions about the appearance of your child’s teeth, call our Oral Health Team at Southwestern Public Health to schedule a dental screening.
What things can you do to take care of your baby’s teeth?
- Wipe or brush your baby’s teeth with a soft cloth or toothbrush
- Give water in between meals
- Have a dental screening by your child’s first birthday
What things can harm your baby’s teeth?
- Putting your baby to bed with a bottle
- Eating and drinking a lot of sugary snacks and drinks, including juice
Did you know? 1 in 4 children have at least 1 cavity by the age of 4.
Your child should have their first dental visit by their 1st birthday. We encourage you to bring your child to one of Southwestern Public Health’s locations so one of our Registered Dental Hygienists can assess your child’s oral health.
At your first visit, you can talk with the dental hygienist about:
- How to care for an infant or toddler’s teeth
- How things like thumb and finger sucking can affect the mouth
- Ways to prevent accidents that could damage the face or teeth
- The proper use of fluoride
- The link between eating healthy and healthy teeth
A baby’s teeth usually start to come in between 6 and 12 months. Children grow at their own pace and some babies may take a bit longer for their teeth to come in (up to 18 months for some children). Take your baby to the dentist or to Southwestern Public Health by age 1, or sooner if you see white or brown spots on your baby’s teeth.
If teething is making your baby unhappy:
- Rub the gums with a clean finger or with a small, cool spoon.
- Rub the gums with a soft, wet wash cloth.
- Give baby a clean, safe teething ring (Ask your doctor about which ones are safe).
A teething baby may:
- Be fussy and cranky
- Have trouble sleeping
- Not want to eat if their gums are sore
A teething baby will NOT have:
- Runny nose
- Ear ache
Never ignore a fever. New teeth do not make babies sick or give them a fever. If your child has a fever, take your child to a doctor.
What NOT to do:
- Do NOT give your child painkillers or gels that can be rubbed on the gums. Even gels or tablets that say they are for babies are not safe for children under 2 years old.
- Do NOT give your child any gels or tablets unless your doctor has told you that it’s safe to do so.
- Do NOT give your child teething biscuits or cookies. They may have sugar (even hidden sugar) which can cause cavities.
Early dental screening helps ensure your child’s teeth are developing properly and are not at risk for cavities or tooth decay.
Oxford - Elgin - St. Thomas
Southwestern Public Health offers free dental health screening to children from 0-17 years old.
Public Health dental hygienists will be available to:
- Screen for cavities and signs of tooth decay
- Screen for healthy tooth development
- Provide tips on oral hygiene for children, including how to prevent injuries, use of soother and sippy cups, etc.
- Provide a fluoride treatment at no cost if needed
- Provide you with a FREE BABY ORAL HEALTH KIT with child tooth brush, teething ring, booklet and other items
- Enroll your child in Healthy Smiles Ontario; Emergency Essentials Service Stream or Preventative Services Only
Please call to book an appointment 519-421-9901 ext. 3510, 519-631-9900 ext. 1275, or 1-800-922-0096