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∑ Baby teeth are important
∑ Start cleaning teeth as soon as they appear
∑ Enrol your child for free dental services
∑ Enrol your child for free dental services from one year of age
∑ Dental services are free for children aged 0-17 years
∑ call 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) to contact your local DHB provider
∑ Baby's teeth are being formed even before they are born.
∑ The first teeth appear at around 6 months.
∑ There are 20 baby teeth and they continue to erupt until three years of age.
∑ Children's first teeth are important because they help to keep spaces for the permanent teeth and allow proper growth of the face and jaws. If the first teeth are well looked after, then it is more likely that the second teeth will grow into their correct position.
∑ Babies often have sore or tender gums when teething which can make them irritable. The gums may appear red and possibly swollen. Often objects or fingers are placed in their mouth and bitten on.
∑ Dribbling may increase and the child may be very choosy or refuse food.
∑ To relieve tender gums try gently rubbing them with a clean finger or the back of a small cool spoon. A clean, cold teething ring may also be soothing.
∑ A non-aspirin based teething gel may also provide some relief. A pharmacist will be able to help.
∑ Begin brushing as soon as the first tooth appears
∑ Use a small, soft toothbrush with just a smear of fluoride toothpaste
∑ Have your baby sit or lie on your lap, both facing the same direction, so you get easy access to his/ her mouth
∑ Encourage your toddler to spit the toothpaste out and not to rinse after brushing
∑ Get them in the habit of cleaning their teeth twice a day
Baby Bottle Caries
Baby Bottle caries is tooth decay caused by giving young children sweet liquids such as fruit juice, fizzy drinks or sweetened milk in a baby's bottle. It can result in rapid tooth decay at a very early age.
∑ Baby bottle caries can occur if a feeding bottle is routinely left in a baby's mouth for a long period of time, particularly at bedtime. The sugars turn into acid which eats into the tooth enamel, causing decay.
∑ The first sign of baby bottle caries may be dull white spots or lines on the front of teeth or between the teeth, particularly around the gum line. Dark or discoloured teeth may be signs of a more serious problem. If there is suspicion that an infant has baby bottle caries contact a dentist or dental therapist immediately.
∑ Baby bottle caries can be easily prevented by putting a baby to sleep with a clean pacifier or a bottle filled only with water. Or better still, encourage babies to go to bed without anything.
∑ Check your babyís teeth once a month by gently lifting the top lip. Look for white spots at the gumline, especially on the upper front teeth. Look for discoloured areas or pieces of missing teeth. If you have any concerns discuss with your Well Child Provider, your doctor or contact the community Dental health service at 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583)
∑ Breast is best.
∑ If you canít breast feed provide infant formula by a bottle. Hold your baby while feeding and do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. You can use a cup from 6-12 months of age.
∑ Limit sugar intake. If a child does occasionally have sweet food the best time is at meal times rather than between meals.
∑ Drink water or milk instead of fruit drinks and juice, cordials, soft drinks and sports drinks.
∑ Encourage healthy snacks such as fruit, cheese, vege pieces and sandwiches.
∑ Ministry of Health: See http://www.health.govt.nz/yourhealth-topics/children/lets-talk-teeth
∑ The New Zealand Dental association website http://www.healthysmiles.org.nz/default,16,infants-toddlers.sm