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The Early Years: Oral Health For Children Ages 0-3

The Early Years: Oral Health For Children Ages 0-3

You are starting habits that will last them all their lives, when you begin helping children to take good care of their teeth. Here, our Delta children's dentists share some tips on how to care for your little one’s oral health from birth to 3 years old.

The first set of teeth (commonly referred to as baby teeth) is already present on the day a baby is born. Baby teeth are hidden under the gums. Front teeth will usually begin to come through the gums when the child reaches approximately six to twelve months of age. Gradually, over the next 2 years the remaining baby teeth will appear. By the time a child is 3 years old all 20 baby teeth should have arrived.

Baby teeth are extremely important for eating and talking. They are also responsible for keeping spaces for the adult teeth. Healthy baby teeth will pave the way for good healthy adult teeth, which is why it’s important to make your child's oral health a priority.

Keep Teeth & Gums Clean

Always clean your baby's gums after a feeding even before you see any teeth. Just wrap a wet washcloth around your index finger and gently massage baby's gums. As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in, start to use a child's soft bristled toothbrush, with a small smear of child-safe toothpaste. At the age 2 a larger, pea-sized, dab of toothpaste is recommended. Flossing can begin as soon as they have two teeth next to one another.

Visit The Dentist Early 

Your child should have their first visit to the dentist by their first birthday, or within 6 months of their first tooth appearing. This gives your dentist a chance to identify any oral health issues early and it help get your child get comfortable with the idea of visiting the dentist regularly. 

Ease Teething Pain

Teething generally begins between four and six months of age. Your infant's gums may be red and swollen and you may notice that they begin to drool more than usual. To ease these symptoms, give your child a clean teething ring or cold wet washcloth. Rest assured that your infant's discomfort will pass. 

Avoid Sugary Food & Drinks

Sugary foods and drinks put your child's teeth at risk of tooth decay and should be avoided. It is important never to give sweet drinks in a baby bottle, and try not to let your baby develop the habit of sleeping with a bottle at nap time or at night. If your child does have something sugary, be sure to clean or brush their teeth thoroughly afterwards.

Make Oral Health Fun

Help your kids have a healthy smile by making dental hygiene fun. Make brushing and flossing a family activity, or create a reward system to encourage positive behaviours. You could watch an episode of their favourite show about visiting the dentist, or look for books at your local library about oral health for kids. Whatever you decide to do, you can help them start good habits that will last them a lifetime. 

To learn more about early oral health, or to schedule an appointment for your child, contact our children's dentists in Delta

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