At Riversdale Dental we believe in preventative dental care and encourage our patients to bring their children to the practice as soon as their teeth start to show. This can be as early as 4 months. Our caring and friendly team is well experienced in children’s services, and as parents themselves, they understand the challenges.
With tooth decay being four times more common than asthma among adolescents aged 14 to 17 years, there has never been a more important time to teach children the benefits of proper oral health. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, children aged 5–10 had an average of 1.5 decayed, missing and filled deciduous teeth. Around 4 in 10 (43%) of children aged 5–14 years had a moderate accumulation of plaque, higher for boys (48%) than girls (37%).
What are the contributing factors to poor oral health?
Many factors contribute to poor oral health, including:
- consumption of sugar
- a lack of good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups
- a lack of fluoridation in some water supplies
- access and availability of services, including:
- affordability of private dental care
- long waiting periods for public dental care.
Oral hygiene status
An accumulation of dental plaque, typically due to poor oral hygiene practices such as not brushing your teeth properly or regularly, can increase the risk of tooth decay. lower for children who last visited the dentist for a check-up (40%) than those who visited for a dental problem (50%).
Ensuring your child maintains good oral health and visits the dentist regularly
Our family friendly practice in Camberwell is here to care for your family and offer several preventative treatments tailored to your children:
Fissure Sealants. Fissure sealants are a quick procedure and very effective in preventing decay providing a protective layer on the chewing teeth (the molars) to reduce tooth decay. Applying a sealant is quick and painless. Fissure sealants are a white or clear composite resin, similar to a white tooth filling.
Mouthguards. It is vital that your child’s teeth are protected while they continue to enjoy playing the sport they love. At Riversdale Dental we offer custom fitted mouthguards for children especially designed to protect a child’s teeth while they play sport. Not only do the mouthguards protect your children’s teeth but they also reduce the risk of concussions as a result of impact to the jaw.
Custom mouthguards that are tailored to fit your teeth have the advantage of being more comfortable and secure while offering great protection. We provide a fitting service to ensure that your child’s mouthguard is as comfortable as possible, in a colour or pattern they like and offers the best protection.
Fluoride applications. One of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, water fluoridation has been a major contributor to the decline of the rate of tooth decay. The proportion of the Australian population with access to fluoridated drinking water has increased over time from 69% in 2003, to 89% in 2017, fluoridation can reduce the amount of decay in children’s teeth by 18-40%. The fluoride is painted onto the surface of the child’s teeth and this helps to mineralise the teeth and is a safe and effective way to safeguard your growing child’s teeth from developing decay.
During each visit, your dentist will discuss dietary advice as well as providing a child focused oral hygiene routine.
What can I do to help my children maintain healthy teeth?
- It is recommended to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque, which is the main cause of tooth decay
- Teenagers should floss everyday to remove plaque from between their teeth and under the gum line. If plaque hardens in this area, it can turn into tartar, which can only be removed professionally.
- Limit starchy and sugary foods as these produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. It is best to consume these foods with a meal rather than a snack as the extra saliva produced during a meal can help rinse food from the mouth.
- Take your child to our dentist for regular check-ups.
Maintain regular dental check ups
At what age should my child start orthodontics?
This can vary from child to child, but it is normal to wait for all the permanent teeth to come through at age 11-12 years. In some circumstances an earlier referral to an Orthodontist may be necessary. We recommend that your child keep up with regular checkups with the dentist so that the development of the teeth can be monitored and early orthodontic intervention arranged if necessary.
Your child’s baby teeth will start to appear, often with the
central bottom teeth first, anywhere between 4 months and 10 months. Like every
developmental milestone, the point at which your baby gets their teeth is an
individual thing and you shouldn’t worry if their teeth appear earlier or later
than other kids their age. If you have any concerns in this regard, your
dentist will be able to answer any questions you might have.
When your child is teething it can be tough to make them comfortable. But a combination of loving attention, chilled but not frozen teething rings or washcloths, and dummies (don’t use honey or jam on them as this causes decay) often does the trick.
Your baby’s first dentist visit
Generally-speaking, it’s time for your baby to see the dentist for the first time when their first tooth becomes visible or when they reach 12 months of age – whichever comes first. While you might think it’s not necessary to book an appointment until your baby has a full set of teeth, which usually takes place by the age of 3, the earlier your child visits the dentist the better. Usually, your child’s first visit to the dentist will involve the taking of their full medical history, and possible discussions about:
- Brushing techniques
- Bite (how your children’s teeth come together)
- Habits such as thumb sucking
- The risk of decay and how to prevent it
- Prevention of traumatic injury to your child’s mouth
- Nutritional advice
Always be positive about these visits, never use the dentist as a deterrent for bad behaviour such as not brushing teeth, and remember that the dental team is well-trained in dealing with babies and young children.
Brushing your baby’s teeth
Dental health is an ongoing process throughout a child’s
life and you should begin by modeling good dental health practices early on so
your child sees them as a normal part of life. Even if your child only has a
few teeth, bacteria can get in and start causing decay, so you should start
brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. One great way to
get your child used to teeth cleaning is to wipe their gums with a soft cloth
twice a day.
As soon as the teeth appear, you can switch to using a soft children’s brush, with no toothpaste until 18 months of age, while your child lies on your lap or on a bed. And yes flossing is necessary; your dentist can show you the correct technique.
Drinks you should avoid giving to babies
- Fruit juice and sweet drinks can cause tooth decay.
- Fruit juice and fruit drinks are not necessary or recommended for children under 12 months.
- Fruit juice with ‘no added sugar’ contains natural sugar which can also cause tooth decay.
- Sweet drinks include: soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks, cordials, tea drinks, fruit drinks and energy drinks.
- Diet soft drinks contain acids which can also damage teeth.
- When babies fall asleep with a bottle some milk stays in the mouth and on the teeth. This can cause tooth decay.
- Once your baby has finished feeding remove the baby from the breast or bottle.
- They may fall asleep with the bottle still in their mouth, increasing the risk of choking, ear infection and tooth decay.
Tooth Decay and Children
Nearly half 6-year-old children have decay in their ‘baby’ teeth. Dental caries or cavities, more commonly known as tooth decay, are caused by a breakdown of the tooth enamel. This breakdown is the result of bacteria on teeth that breakdown foods and produce acid that destroys tooth enamel and results in tooth decay which can attack the teeth at any age. In fact, 84% of 17-year-olds have the disease. Left untreated, caries can cause severe pain and result in tooth loss. Losing teeth affects how you look and feel about yourself as well as your ability to chew and speak. Treating caries is also expensive. So prevention and early treatment are important.
It may surprise you to know that 60% of 15-year-olds experience gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis, which involves the gums but not the underlying bone and ligament, is almost always caused by an accumulation of plaque. As with caries, treatment can be expensive.
If you remove plaque regularly and follow good oral hygiene habits, your gums usually will return to their healthy state. However, more serious gum disease can cause gums to swell, turn red, and bleed, and sometimes causes discomfort. How dentists treat gum disease depends on the extent of the disease. Although dental caries are largely preventable, they remain the most common chronic disease of children aged 6 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years.
In addition to fluoridated water, good oral hygiene can help prevent tooth decay:
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination
Facts on Flossing
Brushing is important but it won’t remove the plaque and particles of food between your teeth, under the gumline, or under braces. You’ll need to floss these spaces at least once a day.
The type of floss you choose depends on how much space you have between your teeth. Dentists usually recommend unwaxed floss because it’s thinner and easier to slide through small spaces. However, studies have shown that there is no major difference in the effectiveness based on the type of floss used.
With any floss, you should be careful to avoid injuring your gums. Follow these instructions:
- Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, using a back and forth motion. Gently bring the floss to the gumline, but don’t force it under the gums. Curve the floss around the edge of your tooth in the shape of the letter “C” and slide it up and down the side of each tooth.
- Repeat this process between all your teeth, and remember to floss the back sides of your back teeth.
As we mentioned earlier on, prevention is the best medicine. If you suspect your child has the start of tooth decay, make an appointment to see us at Riversdale Dental as soon as possible on 03 9882 5566.