Many new parents wonder how soon they should start taking their baby along to visit the dentist. What is generally recommended is that parents bring their baby with them when they have their own dental appointments so that their baby can become familiar with all the new sighs and sounds as well as get used to the reception staff.
Most dentists would advise parents to book joint appointments so one parent can hold the baby while the other parent is being examined. Once your child starts to cut their first teeth, then it is time to add an extra bit of time to your family appointment so that your child can have their first examination. This is usually very quick and the dentist will make it as fun as possible to put your child at ease.
Family dentists are quite used to dealing with children who may be a bit nervous or are scared of the different tools or equipment that surrounds them. They will take the time to explain to your child what they will do and show them the tools they will be using, such as a light and a mirror etc.
Encouraging Healthy Eating
Now is a good time for your dentist to advise you about encouraging healthy eating with your child. Their first teeth will be at risk of decay should the child’s diet contain too much sugar, or they drink a lot of sugar filled drinks. Sugar is a main cause of tooth decay in children, but it is not only about the amount of sugar and sweet foods that they eat, it is also about how often their teeth are in contact with sugar and how long their teeth are left alone after being in contact with sugar.
Many parents don’t realise that giving sweet drinks in bottles and sippy cups can be particularly damaging to children’s teeth. Drinks such as these are effectively bathing their teeth in sugar over a long period of time throughout the day. Parents want to keep their children well hydrated, but often make the mistake of giving them lots of squash and fruit juice to drink instead of plain water. Fruit juice may seem like a healthier alternative to fruit squash, but not only is fruit juice a concentrated form of sugar, it also contains a lot of fruit acid that can also harm their teeth.
Plain water is the best option for children to drink when they are thirsty as it not only quenches their thirst and keeps them hydrated, but is also causes no damage to their teeth.
How to cut down on sugar
For the sake of their children’s dental health, parents are advised to avoid sugar sweetened drinks. The better options are full-fat milk or water. It is fine to give your baby a drink using a bottle, but giving them fruit juice or squash in a bottle can increase the chance of tooth decay.
Once your baby starts to eat solid food, you should encourage them to eat savoury foods that are very low in sugar. Check the food labels for hidden sources of sugar. Even traditional rusks can contain a lot of sugar, so try to steer clear of biscuits and other sweet things. Slices of cheese and cooked meats are a good start. Even children’s yoghurt contain a lot of sugar, so start them off with a naturally thick and creamy plain Greek yoghurt to encourage that savoury tooth.
If you do choose to give your child sweet food or drinks, save them until meal times where they will fill up on healthier foods beforehand. Dilute fruit juice to one part juice to 10 parts water to lessen the sugar impact. Encourage your children to brush their teeth after eating or drinking something sweet so that the sugar isn’t sitting on the surface of their teeth for long periods of time after eating or drinking.
We all like to give our children little treats and rewards, but instead of giving them sweets, cake or biscuits as a treat, give them things like stickers, colouring books, crayons and pencils instead. They may cost a little more than sweets, but they last longer and they don’t cause any damage to your children’s teeth! Encourage your family and friends to do the same and you will be setting up your child for a future with great dental health.