At Ashburton Family Dental, we believe that good oral hygiene is vital to start your family on the path to a healthy mouth for life. Regular checkups at our practice, together with a good at-home preventive program that includes correct brushing, flossing and a balanced diet, are some of the most important things you can provide your children.
We believe lifelong dental health starts with looking after kids’ first teeth from the beginning. A good start is vital, so we offer free check-ups to children under four.
Brushing and Flossing
To encourage good oral hygiene, you should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one appears, so they associate this as a normal part of everyday life. Gentle brushing with a soft bristled baby toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is all that is needed.
It’s especially important that your child brushes their teeth before going to bed at night. The eight to 10 hours your child is asleep gives bacteria lots of time to feast on food particles left on the teeth and produce enamel-eating acid. The flow of saliva in the mouth is also lower at night, so food is less likely to be washed naturally off the teeth.
Early diagnosis and care
We encourage you to introduce your child to our team at Ashburton Family Dental early, to get them used to our practice and the dental equipment. Your child’s first appointment of 15 to 30 minutes will usually consist of a quick assessment of their teeth, gums, jaw and bite. By age three, most children will have all their baby teeth and, although of course they will fall out naturally, it’s important they are cared for in the same way as permanent teeth.
We are always happy to offer advice to help you and your family to become confident with your at-home preventive program. Monitoring the health of your children’s teeth in the early stages of their life will help prevent, detect and treat problems as they occur.
Losing baby teeth
At around the age of six, you’ll notice your child’s baby teeth beginning to come loose. Your child’s baby tooth may wiggle for quite a while before it comes out, and you should encourage your child to gently push on the tooth and loosen it. It’s normal for a permanent tooth to start to come into your child’s mouth before the baby tooth comes out; but if the baby tooth does not come out soon after the appearance of the new permanent tooth, please bring your child in to Ashburton Family Dental for a checkup.
Even though baby teeth will naturally fall out, they are crucial to jaw development and positioning of your child’s permanent teeth. Because the baby teeth are responsible for guiding the permanent teeth into their proper place in your child’s mouth, baby teeth that are missing or prematurely lost may need to have their natural space held open, usually by a device called a space maintainer. Without this treatment, the tooth underneath may have problems growing in later.
To prevent plaque from damaging the pits and fissures in your child’s teeth, we can apply acrylic coatings called fissure sealants. Natural pits and fissures on your child’s adult molars are tiny imperfections, in which food and germs can become trapped. Cavities can easily then occur, because brushing and flossing cannot fully clean these pits and fissures.
Tooth decay in the adult molars will destroy the structure of the tooth, and each time a tooth is filled or a filling is replaced, additional tooth structure is lost. That’s why fissure sealants are a great alternative, offering effective protection against decay by filling in these areas.
Fissure sealant is a liquid that is applied to the molars, becoming hard like plastic as it sets. A reassuring part of your child’s sealant therapy is that it is non-invasive, with no drilling, and doesn’t require a local anaesthetic.
If your child plays a contact sport, we highly recommend you provide them with a custom-made mouthguard. Dental injuries are the most common type of oral facial injury sustained in sports, and can be painful, disfiguring and expensive to treat. Your child may also need time off school to recover, as well as lengthy and expensive dental treatment.
We recommend a custom-fitted mouthguard as this will offer far more protection and comfort than an over-the-counter version. Worn every time your child plays or trains, a custom-made mouthguard acts as your ‘insurance policy’ against dental injuries.
A healthy, balanced diet for your child is just as important for their teeth and gums as it is for their overall wellbeing. Foods and drinks that contain starch and sugar will react to the mouth’s bacteria to produce acid, which attacks your child’s tooth enamel, causing decay and potential tooth loss.
Reducing your child’s intake of sugary and starchy drinks and snacks will help them to maintain the best oral health. Try giving your child delicious alternatives such as cheese, nuts and fresh fruit and vegetables instead of sugary, sweet snacks or cola. Rinsing with water after eating can also help dilute harmful acid.