BC Dental health
How to care for little teeth Image Credit: Shutterstock

From clever ways to get them brushing, to making their first check-up fun, Dr David Roze, practice founder, Dr Roze & Associates shares his advice.

How to establish a good dental health routine from a young age?

When you start with brushing, make it a family session, as kids love to mirror what their parents or older siblings do. Make sure to get into a routine of brushing twice a day, for two minutes each time, with evenings especially important.

A good way to reinforce the importance of before-bed brushing is to tell them that their teeth like to sleep in a clean mouth or let them brush along to their favourite song to make it a fun habit.

My little one often falls asleep for the night after a bottle of milk - will this rot his teeth?

When babies fall asleep while sucking on a bottle, the liquid will pool around their teeth as they sleep, which can cause cavities. Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap time or night-time is particularly harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep.

Wiping or brushing teeth and gums often during the day and before bedtime will help prevent decay. When they are old enough, replace the milk at night with water if they still need a night-time bottle.

My toddler refuses to let me brush his teeth - what can I do?

Make it fun: brush your teeth in front of him and play a song while brushing. There are other tricks like brushing teeth in the bath or pretending to brush the teeth of your little one’s teddy bear. Some kids enjoy using a battery-operated toothbrush.

When should I first take my little one to the dentist?

Just remember ‘first visit by first birthday’ - this follows the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Bringing your child to the dentist from a very early age puts in place a lifetime of good oral care habits as well as getting your child used to the dental office environment.

To pre-empt the development of early childhood cavities, parents need to understand the risks facing their children when it comes to dental care. This includes knowing how to manage diet, hygiene and fluoride in order to prevent problems.

What happens during a routine check-up?

Usually lasting between 15 to 30 minutes, it may include a gentle examination of the teeth, jaw and bite using a mirror, which allows us to monitor growth and development. If required, a gentle cleaning and teeth polishing will remove any built-up plaque, tartar or stains.

How do you help put young kids at ease when they come in for a check-up?

Making children comfortable starts in the waiting room. The ideal environment is child-friendly with games, a TV, PlayStation and dedicated staff for children.

The first rule when it comes to the check-up is not to do anything in terms of treatment if a child comes in and is already feeling scared. The dentist should make time to get to know the child and their behaviour so they can tailor the approach to their needs and gain their trust and confidence. A child’s first visit should be enjoyable, with tricks such as the chair that can move up and down like a ride at an amusement park, and it's recommended that parents keep their negative feelings in check (if they have any) and come with a positive frame of mind as this rubs off on little ones.