Babies & kids

Whether your child has grown-up teeth, baby teeth or no teeth, there are important oral hygiene considerations.

Teething to six months

  • Soothe sore gums by rubbing with a cold spoon or teething ring, or massaging with a clean finger or cloth.
  • Teething gels and gum gels, such as Bonjela, are recommended for treating sore gums.
  • Teething biscuits can contain sugar, and may contribute to tooth decay.
  • Do not “sweeten” a teething ring or pacifier by applying sugary food or drink.

Feeding

  • Water should be given after milk, juice and sweetened food and drink to rinse acids and sugars from the mouth.
  • Fill bedtime or comfort bottles with water only – acidic or sugary drinks can cause nursing bottle cavities.
  • Once your child is able to drink from a cup, avoid bottle feeding. Drinking from a cup is more tooth-friendly than from a bottle.

Diet

  • Avoid sweet foods as first solids.
  • Encourage a healthy, balanced diet of fresh, natural, chewy foods.
  • Limit sugary processed foods – offer raw vegetables.
  • Limit frequency of snacks – sugar eaten with meals causes less cavities than sugar in snacks.
  • Eat sweet foods at one time of day only – do not spread throughout the day. Encourage brushing after.
  • Avoid foods that last in the mouth, such as hard lollies and mints, which give plaque bacteria more opportunity to cause cavities.
  • Limit starchy foods and sugar/starch combinations (biscuits, cakes, fast foods) – starch is as harmful to the teeth as sugar, and sugar/starch combinations are more cavity-causing than sugars alone.
  • When serving juice or Ribena, dilute well with water – these are as harmful to the teeth as softdrink.
  • Do not allow children to snack or sip all day.
  • At 12 months and over, lift the lip regularly! Check the teeth monthly for early signs of decay: snow-white or yellow-brown marks along the gum line.

Brushing

  • Prior to teething, wipe the gums with a soft, clean cloth or gauze to remove plaque bacteria.
  • After teeth erupt, brush with a child’s toothbrush – without toothpaste –twice daily, especially before bed.
  • Be a good role model – children learn by imitation.
  • At 18 months, help your child learn to brush with a smear of low-fluoride toothpaste, explaining that it must not be swallowed.
  • Encourage your child to hold the toothbrush like a pencil.
  • Stand behind your child when helping with brushing – it’s easier and your child will find it less intimidating.
  • Encourage your child to simply spit out the excess foam, rather than rinsing.
  • Supervise brushing until around the age of nine.

Flossing

  • Any teeth that touch should be flossed.
  • We suggest flossing at bedtime. Combine it with a good story and your child will enjoy the process.
  • Have your child practise with Flossettes or Flosspiks.

Fluoride

  • As Australia’s water supply is typically fluoridated, it is generally not necessary to give fluoride drops or tablets to your child. However, water filters may remove fluoride from tap water – check the manufacturer’s specifications. Consult your dentist if you use a water filter or have a non-fluoridated water supply.
  • A children’s low-fluoride toothpaste is still recommended.

Visiting the dentist

  • Encourage a positive attitude towards visits to the dentist.
  • Starting dental visits from the age of one will enable us to identify any potential dental problems early. It will also start your child on a personal dental hygiene plan that will help to ensure healthy teeth and gums for life.
  • Talk to your dentist prior to your child’s teething to discuss special diet considerations.