Tips for Tip Top Teeth

Dental health plays an enormous role in our overall health and wellbeing, and there are so many factors that influence dental and oral health. Specialist Paediatric Dentist, Dr Melissa Warren, has shared her top tips to ensure your child has a smile for life this Dental Health Week. 

Dr Warren’s first tip is all about brushing.

“In general, parents are really aware of the need to brush their children’s teeth, but the reality is, it doesn’t always happen the way we would like it to. I have three children myself and I know that brushing and caring for teeth will not always be perfect. 

“As dentists, the care we recommend is the gold standard, and what parents are going to try and achieve on the good days. We know this won’t always happen, and that’s ok, you just have to do your best,” Dr Warren said. 

Dental care should start early. One great way to get your baby used to cleaning their teeth is to wipe their gums with a soft damp cloth twice a day.  When the first teeth appear, start brushing twice a day with a small, soft toothbrush and water. From 12 months, start using a small smear of junior (low fluoride) toothpaste on their brush.

Get kids off to a good start by making sure that they brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. It is hard for kids under ten years old to clean their teeth properly, so they may need some help at least once a day.

It is important to use dental floss or interdental brushes daily from about 6 years of age, to clean between their teeth. Your dentist can show you the best way to do this.

You can find further information on caring for your child's teeth here.

While brushing and oral care are important, diet is vital. 

“Brushing is something that happens twice a day, so the exposure to sugar and acids throughout the day plays an even more significant role. 

“It’s really important to be aware and read the labels on the food your child is consuming. In our society there are more packaged foods available, so being able to read labels and look at the sugar content, and know what that means, will help ensure you give your child the best chance at good oral and dental health,” 

Avoid putting babies and young children to bed with a bottle filled with juice, cordial, flavoured drink, or even milk or infant formula, as this can lead to tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth can use the sugar in these drinks to decay the teeth while your baby sleeps. If your baby needs a bottle to go to sleep, fill it with water only.  Do not put honey or anything sweet on dummies to help your child sleep.

Make sure your kids have a healthy, balanced diet and that they avoid sugary, sticky foods, sweet drinks and juices, especially between meals. Water is the best drink for their teeth and general health.

Finally, it's really important to have your child's teeth checked by a medical professional from an early age.

“We know that approximately 50% of children in Australia have some form of tooth decay by the age of six. Waiting for a child to start school for their first dental check-up is too late for half of Aussie kids.”

“A healthy body needs a healthy mouth. The mouth is the start of not only the gastrointestinal system, but it’s also related to so many other systems in the body,” says Dr Warren. Find out all about tooth development here.

“Access to dental care isn’t always easy or possible. If you can’t access a dentist to check your child’s teeth, ask your GP to take a look. There are some conditions that can impact the development of children’s teeth, and if these things are picked up really early there are preventative measures we can put in place to stop them becoming bigger problems,” Dr Warren said. 

Did you know that the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) could cover part or the full cost of some dental services (such as check-ups, X-rays, cleaning, fissure sealing, and fillings) for eligible children?

Your child is deemed eligible for the CDBS by Medicare if:

  • they are  under 17 years old
  • they qualify for Medicare
  • and you receive either Family Tax Benefit Part A, parenting payment or double orphan pension payments for at least some of that year.

Confirm with Medicare to see if your child qualifies for CDBS before calling your dentist to book an appointment. Not all dentists perform services under the CDBS, therefore it is important to check with your dentist before making an appointment.

For more information and to see if your child is eligible call Medicare on 132 011 or visit the Department of Human Services website

Hear more from Dr. Warren below