Happy child brushing his teeth
Dr Chris Darby

Dr Chris Darby

Dentistry for Children: Understanding Your Child’s Teeth from Birth to Age Six

Are you looking for further information about dentistry for children? You’re in the right place.

The health of baby teeth is just as important as adult teeth. They fall out and are replaced, but they are essential for children to speak and chew properly. Healthy baby teeth also pave the way for healthy adult teeth by creating space for the permanent teeth to push through. In many ways, they create the right spacing for your permanent teeth, which is why caring for them (and finding a paediatric dentist you trust) is so important.

We have been looking after kids for more than 30 years and have a lot of games that make their trip to the dentist fun and educational.

Caring For Your Child’s Teeth

As a parent, you are responsible for many things, chief amongst these responsibilities is setting your children up for lifelong general health and lifelong dental health. Teeth begin to develop 8 weeks after your child is conceived, and from 6 to 12 months after birth you’ll be looking at their pearly whites. By the age of 2, they will probably have all twenty baby teeth, and these first teeth need to be carefully looked after.

By about six, the first permanent tooth will appear and then the baby teeth will begin to fall out, and permanent teeth will erupt to take their place. But, first comes the care for the primary teeth and here’s some important things to know:

  • Milk contains sugar, and sugar in any form is bad for dental and gum health. So, after feeding your bub make sure you grab a damp cloth and wipe away any remnants of milk from the gums.
  • Once teeth have appeared, use begin to use a soft toothbrush. If they won’t accept that then start with a damp cloth.
  • Don’t use any toothpaste until your child has reached the age of eighteen months. Until they are five, just use a pea size amount. Don’t use fluoride toothpaste until your child has learned how to spit. Swallowing fluoride toothpaste can cause a range of issues.
  • Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day, and as soon as they are capable, make sure you encourage them to hold the brush and perform the action themselves.
  • You should bring your kids along to the child dentist at least from the age of 12 months. This allows your kids dentist to monitor their tooth and jaw development from a young age and stay abreast of any orthodontic issues.
  • It’s essential that you never allow your child to sleep with a filled or empty bottle. A bottle full of milk means their teeth will be exposed to sugar all night, and an empty bottle could cause trauma if dropped on the gums or teeth.

Watching Out For Tooth Decay

As soon as teeth erupt, they are at risk of decay. For most kids, sugary, sweet foods will be their favourite which is why cavities are so prevalent in young children. Sadly tooth decay is on the rise again in children in Australia. It’s essential you put steps in place to remove plaque-causing decay and help your children to avoid cavities by:

  • Making sure your child’s diet is full of nutritious, whole foods. Avoid snacking between meals. A baby will feed every 3 or so hours, a toddler up to a teenager will have 5 to 6 meals a day. In between these meals they should have water. Discourage grazing.
  • Keeping processed and sugary foods to a minimum and ensuring they are viewed as a treat and not a typical food.
  • Try to completely avoid soft drinks and fruit juices. All young children need is water, and the sooner you introduce other types of drinks, the harder it will be to get them to stick to water when they’re thirsty.
  • Hard sweets like lollipops and boiled lollies should never be given to children as they cause the most harm (there is a risk of dental damage as well as decay).

Choosing A Child-Friendly Toothpaste

“Fluoride is God’s gift to the dental world” I do not agree. Most Aussie dentists will recommend that you should introduce fluoride toothpaste when your child heads off to kindergarten. They say there is a lot of negative press around fluoride, but it is the only effective means of fighting cavity-causing bacteria. It also makes teeth stronger, and the levels used in toothpaste are entirely safe.

As a holistic dentist I do not believe in fluoride being a magic bullet to curing tooth decay. I believe the vast majority of our population do not need fluoride and that diet and lifestyle changes are the most effective methods for preventing tooth decay and gum infection. We discuss alternatives to fluoride containing toothpastes and have some for sale that are safe. Unfortunately it is not just the chemical fluoride that we should avoid in our commercially sold tooth paste

So please if you are worried about fluoride talk to your dentist and ask for advice. We will be  able to suggest alternatives.

Set Your Baby Up With Healthy Habits

You need to put measures in place, so your child understands how to care for their own teeth. As they get more and more independent it will be up to them to take over, so they need to be prepared. But they do not have the physical co-ordination to brush their teeth effectively till the age of 9.

Childhood is a game. I always think of Mary Poppins and the game she played with the children cleaning their bedroom. So make the routine of dinner, brushing and flossing and book and bed a game and make it fun.  Don’t just brush their teeth yourself because it’s easier. Make sure you involve them in the process so they can eventually brush their own teeth, and understand why it’s so important. You also need to get them used to the environment of a dental clinic so they don’t build-up any fear or phobias that could hold them back later in life.

Set Your Child to Good Health by Growing Well with a Good Night’s Sleep

All parents want our children to grow up health and happy. So what can you do to help them grow well?

  • Have a regular time for bedtime and have a relaxing routine to getting them set up for a great night’s sleep. Growth hormone is 90% released at night so to grow well they need to sleep well.
  • Teach and encourage them to breathe through their nose ALL the time. Clear their nose if it is blocked. Check them when asleep that their lips are together and they are breathing through their nose. They swallow twice a minute while awake and once a minute while asleep and the pressure of the tongue on the upper jaw causes the bone of the face and head to grow. So please teach them to swallow with their mouth closed.
  • Set their bedroom well: dark (use block-out curtains), quiet (but “grey/pink” noise will help them sleep), slightly cool (14 to 16 degrees Celsius), natural cotton blankets and PJ’s, heating that does not dry out the air (not reverse cycle in bedroom), ideally floor boards not carpet, perhaps a wool matt to decrease dust, low allergy to stop their nose blocking up.
  • Come and see us if your child snores or stops breathing at night.
  • Avoid the child using a Dummy or Pacifier
  • No bottles in bed at night. Last thing in their mouth at night is water, no milk as the last thing in their mouth at night.

Contact Lifetime Holistic Dental Today

If you’re interested in bringing your child in to see our paediatric dentist, get in touch with the friendly team at Lifetime Holistic Dental, just:



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