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Gina's top tips - Top Tips for cleaning baby teeth

Until your child has several teeth it will probably be easier to clean his teeth using the specially designed gauze pads that are currently available. These pads will enable you to rub his teeth and gums gently, removing any plaque and keeping his mouth free of bacteria.

Once he has several teeth, you can start using a small milk-teeth toothbrush. Choose one that has soft-ended bristles and a chunky ribbed handle, making it easier for your baby or toddler to hold. To begin with, most babies and toddlers are more interested in chewing the brush than in actually brushing their teeth. It is not until a child reaches six or seven years old that he will begin to clean his teeth properly; until then he will probably need your help. Try to make cleaning his teeth fun. Play a game of Mummy's turn, your turn. With children under three it is usually easier to clean their teeth just before they get out of the bath, which avoids having to worry about dribbling. If your child is still having milk after the bath, it is a good idea to give his teeth another quick clean after his milk when he is in bed. I usually do this with a tiny amount of toothpaste, a wet toothbrush and a tissue for dribbles.

The following guidelines will ensure that you establish the right habits for healthy teeth:

  • Use a toothpaste that contains the correct level of fluoride for milk teeth and is sugar-free. A small pea-sized blob of toothpaste is all that is needed.
  • Ensure that your child's teeth are brushed at least twice a day. This will ensure that they are protected by the fluoride, which stays in the mouth up to five hours after brushing.
  • Always ensure that the toothbrush is rinsed thoroughly after each use and that it is stood upright to dry. It should be replaced every two months.
  • Fresh fruit juice diluted with water should only be given with meals, not between meals. Acidic juices can damage the soft surfaces of children's teeth. By the time a child reaches a year old he should be having all drinks from a cup or beaker.
  • Babies who are still being settled at bedtime with a bottle of milk are more likely to suffer from tooth decay, which can affect permanent teeth that have not yet come through.
  • Get your toddler used to visiting the dentist before he reaches 18 months. The younger he is when he visits, the less likely he is to feel intimidated. Try to choose a practice that specialises in children's dentistry.


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