Your Child’s First Teeth
A child’s first milk teeth will begin to erupt from their gums when they are around six months old. The first to appear are usually the lower deciduous (milk) incisors at the front of the mouth, and these are typically followed by the set of upper deciduous incisors. A few months later, the baby lower molars will appear, followed by the upper set of baby molars (the teeth we use for chewing), and then finally, the pointed deciduous canine teeth at the sides of a child’s mouth will arrive just before the second set of top and bottom molars. In total, the whole process will take around 18 months, with most children having a full set of deciduous teeth by the age of two or two and a half (give or take six months). Bear in mind, however, that all children develop at their own pace.
What Is Teething?
Teething is the process which begins when a child cuts their first tooth. This coincides with the time that the child’s innate immunity (provided during pregnancy by the mother) begins to weaken, and their own immune system comes into force. As such, you can expect colds, runny noses and fevers at this time - but while such symptoms are associated with teething, they are actually separate points in the child’s development. Any concerns about your child’s health during this sensitive time can be raised with your GP. The Fulham NHS Dentist service does not recommend the use of pharmaceutical gels for teething, as they often contain aspirin (which can be difficult to dose accurately) and do not have a lasting effect. Instead, we recommend using natural coolants - a piece of frozen banana, a cold piece of fruit or vegetable, a chilled teething ring or rusk biscuit can all be highly effective.
What can I do?
There are no solid rules when it comes to cleaning a small child’s teeth, but we advise you to begin brushing teeth with a soft children’s toothbrush once they become visible in their mouth. After the age of three, formulated children’s toothpaste may be used, but only in a small, pea-sized quantity. Use a gentle scrubbing motion, which will be sufficient for the removal of food debris and plaque.
After the child reaches the age of six, it’s advisable for them to brush while supervised in both the morning and evening. From this age, they can use a small quantity of adult toothpaste, so long as they are able to spit it out and not accidentally swallow it.
Sending your child to bed with a bottle is not recommended, as bottles of milk contain sugars which can cause tooth decay if sucked upon continually throughout the nighttime. Bottles should be given in a single sitting, and then removed. This principle is also applicable with all soft drinks, and any foods containing sugars - something you should be aware of as your child gets older. Many people do not realise that it is not necessarily the volume of sugar in a food or drink that can cause damage, it is instead the frequency and rate at which they consume it. The more often your child is consuming sugary drinks and snacks, the more harmful acids they are exposed to that may cause tooth decay. Any treats should be given after meals (when natural sugars will be present in the mouth), and tooth-kind snacks like fruits, nuts, popcorn and crackers are far preferable to sweets, jellies, chocolate and the suchlike. Fruit juices (preferably sugar-free ones) are best diluted and drank in moderation, and water and milk should be enjoyed as a replacement for fizzy drinks.
What About Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding for more than two years can cause dental issues and tooth decay. This is because breast milk features natural sugars.
Dummies should be removed and no longer used after the age of two. After all, they are easier to remove than a child’s thumb!
What can Quality Dental NHS Dentist Fulham do?
Any concerns you have about your child’s dental health can be raised with your Quality Dental NHS Dentist Fulham. It’s never too soon to bring your child for a check up, and the earlier you begin, the sooner they will be able to trust their dentist and feel comfortable in that setting. Just bring your child along with you when you go for your own check ups, and then set your child’s first dentist appointment when they’re around two or two and a half years old.
Quality Dental NHS Dentist Fulham will be more than happy to talk to you about your child’s dental health and development in this regard. We welcome you to share your worries, and give us the opportunity to help you gain a better understanding.