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From optimal cleaning practices, to prevention and treatment of decay, GRAHAME DUTTON of Duxton Dental takes us through the key points to caring for children’s teeth.

Cleaning

Healthy baby teeth not only look good, they help children eat well and are important for speech. The first baby teeth arrive when babies are as young as four months old, and you should start brushing with a smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth comes through the gums.

Teeth are made of three minerals – calcium, phosphate and fluoride – so fluoride is necessary when teeth are developing, and for maintaining tooth structure throughout life. So, fluoride toothpaste is essential.

Teeth should be brushed by an adult twice a day – in fact, we recommend that brushing be assisted by an adult until children are 8 or 9 years old. Electric toothbrushes can be helpful and cost as little as $30 – for the Oral B Vitality, for example. You should also regularly floss your children’s teeth, until they can do it themselves, especially when the adult teeth come in.

Decay & Bad Breath

Cavities should be identified and filled by your school dental therapist or dentist. Decay has a lot to do with a child’s diet, and high levels of a certain type of bacteria. Treatment with a probiotic lozenge can help override the bad bacteria and decrease further risk of cavities.

The first set of adult molars erupts when a child is 6 or 7 years of age, and the second set between 11 and 14. The chewing surfaces of these molars have small grooves or fissures, which are very difficult to clean, and hence the most common site of decay. Fissure sealants are protective plastic coatings applied to the back teeth to seal these grooves and prevent any food particles or bacteria from getting in.

Many children suffer from bad breath – which has a significant social impact. We have found the Blis probiotic treatment to be very effective.

Chipped Teeth

It is important to lodge all teeth accidents with ACC in case future issues arise. These days, chipped teeth can be repaired to a very high standard with our modern materials. To prevent damage to teeth and gums, children should wear mouth guards when playing sport.

Orthodontics

The aim of orthodontics is to produce a healthy, functional bite, creating greater resistance to disease and improving personal appearance. Most orthodontics is performed during the adolescent growth spurt; however, there are some conditions that may be best treated when the child is as young as 9 years old.
Children in New Zealand are entitled to free basic oral health services by registered dental providers from 0-18 years old.

To enrol, call 0800TALKTEETH. Alternatively, private dental care can be provided by dental practices such as Duxton Dental.

03 348 5488 / duxtondental.co.nz