Advice from the tooth fairy

Healthy teeth are essential to a healthy childhood. Not only do teeth help children to chew, speak and smile but they also support the upper and lower jaws.

A baby can begin strengthening the muscles surrounding his or her jaw from as early as breastfeeding. The motion your baby uses if breastfed helps to strengthen the muscles that shape their face. The support your baby’s teeth provide to their jaws will help form their facial profile, shape and function. Formation of a balanced upper and lower jaw for your baby also comes from establishing good nose breathing, swallowing patterns and proper speech with the tongue in the correct position. And it doesn’t stop there. Other factors affecting the development of your baby’s teeth and jaws include your birth posture, diet and emotions. Mums and their babies may benefit from treatment from professionals such as osteopaths and dentists working together as a team. We think of osteopaths as only working with adults. In fact, their work on releasing stresses and strains are suitable for everyone including newborn babies.

Baby London recommends introducing your child to the dental environment to have an oral health assessment between their primary teeth appearing and their first birthday. It is important to have regular dental visits to monitor dental health, assess growth and development and ensure dental disease is identified and prevented early enough to halt progression.

By introducing your babies from an early age you can foresee and prevent any problems as well as educating yourself and your child to keep your teeth healthy, resulting in the need for only minimum intervention. Decay is preventable by simple changes in behaviour. If you educate your children to good oral and dietary habits at an early age they are more likely to continue these throughout life, and have healthier teeth and gums.

State of the art equipment can diagnose disease early, allowing it to be arrested and treated sooner. Early decay can be identified with pen-sized lasers and treated with a combination of prevention techniques; ozone, air abrasion and tooth friendly coatings and restorations.

Development of teeth
Tooth development begins while your baby is still in the womb. Primary or “baby” teeth begin to form under the gums during the fifth month of pregnancy The first tooth usually emerges when your baby is between 6 and 8 months of age, but don’t worry if it’s a bit later or earlier than this. There are no hard and fast rules – all babies are different. Occasionally, a baby can be born with a front tooth already through For some reason, teeth usually come through in pairs: bottom front teeth (central incisors) are normally the first to appear, followed by the top ones, the molars and the canine teeth (the pointed ones). Finally, the back molars emerge

The order in which your baby’s teeth appear varies but all twenty baby teeth should have arrived by the time your child is three years old. Here are some guidelines to follow to help prevent tooth decay:

  • The transition from milk to solids is best for the teeth at between 4 to 6 months.
  • Good first weaning foods include non-wheat cereals for example rice purees of vegetables and non-citrus fruits. Sugar, honey or salt should not be added to weaning foods
  • Sweetened drinks can encourage a ‘sweet tooth’ and should be avoided
  • Cool boiled water is best between meals. Well diluted fruit juice should only be given at mealtimes, in a feeder cup or beaker, from the age of 6 months
  • Do not use baby juice or sweet drinks at bedtime or during the night
  • Once weaning has started try to keep food and drinks containing sugars to mealtimes
  • If snacks are given they should be sugar-free for example cheese, plain yoghurt, bread sticks, peeled and chopped apples

Medicines containing sugar can cause tooth decay if given frequently over a long period of time. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if a sugar-free alternative is available. If possible, give medicines at mealtimes and not last thing at night.

You are advised to use specially formulated children’s toothpaste when brushing your little one’s teeth. A pea-sized blob is sufficient, at least until your child is about six years old. At this age they can begin to use adults’ toothpaste.