Do we need to worry about brushing baby teeth?

By Louise Belle BHSc (Nut Med)

It is a common misconception that baby teeth don’t need to be looked after. This belief stems from the fact that these teeth will eventually fall out and new ones will grow- kind of like a second chance. For this reason, some parents are slack with brushing their infant’s teeth. Regardless of the fact that the teeth will fall out, it is very important to take good care of them and brush twice daily. There are many reasons why you should take care of your infant’s baby teeth:

  • They are needed for chewing: It can be difficult to chew foods such as meat or fibrous fruits and vegetables without teeth. Chewing food properly is an integral part of good digestion.
  • They build confidence: A child with a nice set of teeth will be more likely to smile and have good confidence levels. Letting their teeth decay away will not set them up with a happy, healthy smile.
  • Avoid pain: Cavities cause great pain which can really impact on the child’s mood and ability to concentrate if their mouth is constantly hurting. Baby teeth are particularly prone to cavities due to them having softer enamel.
  • Reserve space for permanent teeth: The baby teeth hold space in the jaws for the mature teeth to come through when they are ready. If the baby teeth fall out prematurely it can cause the mature teeth to come up crooked.
  • Establishing good habits: Most children will have developed life-long habits by the time they reach primary school. It is important to establish a good routine of teeth brushing while they are young, so they can carry these habits on into their adolescence and adulthood.
  • They might stick around: Baby teeth don’t always fall out during childhood. Some people will still have some baby teeth up until the age of 12.
  • Teeth help you speak: Having a full set of teeth will help the infant speak more clearly. It can be difficult to pronounce words if you have lots of missing teeth!

So, what is the best way to take care of their teeth? Before the teeth arrive, get into the habit of cleaning your infant’s gums with a warm cloth or some gauze. This helps to keep the gums clean and healthy, and gets the infant used to having their mouth cleaned. As soon as the first tooth starts to erupt, it is important to begin brushing- you can continue using cloth for now, or switch over to a small, soft bristled brush. Avoid putting sugary drinks into their bottles in order to preserve the enamel on their teeth. Set a good example and let them watch you brush your teeth to motivate them to want to. When they get a little older they can start brushing their own teeth, but you’ll need to supervise them until they are about 8 years old. The moral of this story is yes, it’s absolutely important to brush your baby’s teeth!

For more tips and advice about babies and children, download our free guide “Sick of your child being sick?”

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