Your guide to children’s dentistry
Everything you need to know about giving your child a healthy and happy smile
Every parent knows that it’s important to teach children healthy habits when they are young. The habits formed in their early years can impact them for life. For that reason, it is crucial that you ensure your child learns good oral health practices to set them up for health and happiness.
Most dental problems in children and adults are easily preventable, and prevention is better than correcting a problem later on. The earlier you begin safeguarding your child’s oral health, the likelier it is that you’ll avoid dental problems.
Every parent wants the best for their child. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to know what that looks like. The Point Dental is here to help. Read on to learn about how you can help your child achieve optimum oral health.
The Point Dental specialises in dental care for children.
Why is dental care important for children?
Tooth decay is rising among Australian kids. Children between 5 and 10 have an average of 1.5 decayed, filled or missing baby teeth. It’s crucial that you teach your child proper oral health habits from the moment they start teething. Ensuring your child’s teeth and gums are clean will provide protection against cavities, infection and pain. Early tooth loss because of decay can cause crowding issues when adult teeth come through.
How do I look after my baby’s teeth?
Many babies begin teething at about 3 months old, with the first teeth usually appearing from 6 to 9 months. By the age of 1, a baby will usually have around 8 teeth. However, babies develop at different rates, so this can vary.
You should commence cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they arrive. To begin with, you can clean your baby’s teeth by wiping with a soft cloth or brushing with a soft toothbrush and water. From the age of 18 months, you can start using a low-fluoride toothpaste when you brush your child’s teeth.
You can buy toothpaste and small-headed toothbrushes especially for babies or children at your local pharmacy or supermarket. You will need to clean your baby or child’s teeth until they are old enough to do it themselves. This is usually around the age of 7 years.
It’s crucial, too. Tooth decay can begin affecting babies once their first teeth arrive. Decay’s first signs are often lines or white spots affecting front teeth. You should take your baby for a dental visit once their baby teeth come through so that the dentist can verify their teeth are developing correctly.
What are some tips for looking after my child’s teeth?
Here are some handy tips for looking after your child’s teeth.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice daily, with small circular motions. Clean your child’s teeth after meals and before bed using child-friendly toothpaste. Make sure they brush for a minimum of 2 minutes, and don’t swallow the toothpaste.
- Assist your child with teeth brushing from when they get their first tooth through to the age of 8 or so. Afterwards, supervise until their teenage years.
- Establish a regular tooth brushing schedule, and praise your child for brushing their teeth well.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush or toothbrush head once every 3 months.
- Children need to begin flossing once they have 2 teeth that touch each other. Flossing ought to be supervised until they hit their teens.
- Make sure your child avoids foods with added sugar, like biscuits, lollies and soft drinks.
- Ensure your child wears a mouth guard if playing contact sports.
At what age should a child first visit the dentist?
We recommend your child’s first dental visit occurs by 12 months of age or within 6 months of their first tooth. The visit will include an examination of your child’s teeth, gums and oral tissue to make sure they’re growing and developing as they should be.
How often should my child go to the dentist?
It is vital that your child has regular dental check-ups. These should take place from when they are 12 months old or within 6 months of their first tooth’s appearance.
What are some tips for encouraging my child not to be anxious about dentists?
Many of us have anxiety around visiting the dentist which began in childhood. For some people, the fear of dentists is so bad they won’t visit one at all. It’s important that you create a positive relationship between your child and dental care. Here are a few tips to help get your child to understand the importance of visiting the dentist:
- Tell them what to expect so they’re not taken by surprise.
- Stay calm in the lead-up to their dental appointment.
- Make visiting the dentist a fun experience — reward your child for pro-dental behaviour.
- Never use the dentist as a threat or punishment.
When should I seek help for my child’s dental needs?
You should seek a dentist if your child displays any of the following symptoms:
- Swollen, red or bleeding gums
- Gum pus
- A persisting bad taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Tooth or gum pain
As your child gets older, their baby teeth will be replaced by adult teeth. Be sure to book an appointment with a dentist if you notice your child’s teeth or jaw are misaligned. The dentist will let you know if corrective treatment is necessary. You can locate your nearest dentist by searching the National Health Services Directory.
Dental care expenses
The Australian Government covers some children’s dental costs through Medicare. Check to see if your child qualifies on the Child Dental Benefits Schedule website.
Some people use private health insurance to pay some or all of their dental costs. A majority of people with insurance will still have to pay some of the costs themselves. This is known as the ‘gap payment’ — the difference between what the dentist charges and what the insurer will pay.
The type of health insurance that pays for dental care is known as ‘General Treatment’ (sometimes called ‘Extras’ or ‘Ancillary’). Health insurance that only covers hospital or ambulance does not pay for dental care. Policies vary widely, so if you have private health insurance, check what dental care you are covered for, the amount you will receive back from the fund, and the limit on how much you can claim in a year.
Different dentists will have different costs, with some charging several hundred dollars. It can be helpful to shop around. You can also check whether your child’s school offers free dental check-ups.
Good dental health is important for the wellbeing of everyone, especially children. Do you have any questions about taking care of your child’s oral health? Contact us to speak with a children’s dentistry specialist at The Point Dental.