Healthy Kids’ Teeth: Laying The Foundation For Lifelong Oral Health

mother is playing with daughter after dental care

According to Health Direct, over half of Australian children have some level of decay in their teeth by the age of six. This is often seen as an inevitable part of childhood, but while many children enjoy sweet treats, not every child will develop cavities in their baby teeth. You might be wondering how these super-parents make it through the early years cavity-free, especially if your little one has a sweet tooth! If so, you’ll be relieved to know that there are lots of simple, stress-free ways you can help your child to keep their baby teeth healthy.

Scheduling Your Baby’s First Dentist Visit

It’s never too early to start preventing childhood cavities. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends scheduling your child’s first dental appointment as soon as the first tooth appears, or by their first birthday at the latest. Your dentist will be able to check that your baby’s teeth are developing as they should and pick up on any signs that they are at risk of cavities. This is also a great opportunity for you to pick up valuable oral health care tips, such as proper brushing technique for little teeth and gums.

Using Fluoride For Strong Teeth

On a daily basis, acid from bacteria depletes the minerals in the teeth and starts to break down their protective hard tissues, such as enamel. Fluoride is one of our natural defenses against this process, helping to ‘re-mineralise’ and strengthen the teeth. If we don’t have enough fluoride or other minerals to replace those we’ve lost, cavities will start to form.

It can be difficult to get enough natural fluoride to maintain this delicate balance, especially for children. Australian drinking water is supplemented with fluoride in most areas and it is recommended that children use fluoridated toothpaste. Your dentist may recommend giving your child an extra helping hand by using a fluoride mouth rinse or by applying a fluoride varnish.

Note that while the New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends using a 1000 ppm fluoride toothpaste for children as soon as the first teeth erupt, the ADA does not recommend using toothpaste at all for children under 18 months. For children under six, the ADA says that fluoride products should contain no more than 500 ppm, and for children over six, products should have 1000-1500 ppm. Teaching Good Oral Health Habits For Life Baby teeth start to fall out at around six or seven years old and are replaced by the permanent teeth. These second teeth have been sitting under the gumline waiting to come through, and they can actually be affected by decay in the baby teeth, too. Even though the baby teeth only last a few precious years, the good habits you teach your little one during this time can lay the foundations for a lifetime of good oral health. You can model positive actions for your child by brushing and flossing together in the morning, for example, or making his or her oral hygiene routine into a fun game. By the time those healthy permanent teeth come through, you and your child will really have something to smile about!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Top Tips for Good Oral Care During Childhood

  • Brushing and flossing
    Begin using toothpaste to brush your child's teeth when he (or she) is 2 years old. Young children tend to swallow toothpaste when brushing, rather than spitting it out. Introduce fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough not to swallow it. As soon as two teeth touch each other, floss between them once a day. You can use regular floss or special plastic floss holders.

  • Dental visit
    New parents often ask, "When should my child first see a dentist?” Your child should see a dentist by his or her first birthday.


Kids can enjoy brushing!

Mouthwash for Kids

Colgate® Minions Kids mouthwash has been developed for kids 7+ to use as part of their daily oral care regime. This alcohol free mouthwash has been designed to keep little mouths healthy and get those hard to reach places that brushing often misses!