Seeing Your Dentist During Pregnancy:
Most patients attend for a check-up every six months as a matter of routine but due to hormonal changes during pregnancy some women’s dental health requires closer attention at this time. For instance you may notice that your gums appear to bleed more easily. If you have any concerns check with your dentist. Ideally you would have a check-up during pregnancy and one after the baby has been born.
Safe Dental Treatment During Pregnancy:
Routine dental care should cause no problems but as with other medical treatments it is best left until after the baby is born if possible. Dentists will probably advise leaving amalgam fillings until after the birth.
Diet During Pregnancy:
Some women experience morning sickness which may make them want to eat ‘little and often’. Avoid sugary foods and try to maintain a balanced diet which, when eaten at regular meal times, will improve your dental health. Acid erosion due to increased vomiting should be discussed with your dentist or hygienist.
Fluoride Supplements for Babies:
It is important to ask the dentist if supplements are necessary as fluoride can be naturally found in some water supplies. If your water has a low level, then fluoride supplements do help to strengthen teeth, supplements can start at about 6 months.
Baby's First Visit to the Dentist:
It is a good idea to take your baby with you when you have your check-ups from birth to get them used to the surroundings. This way your dentist will be able to discuss and offer advice for teething pain. Your children’s check-ups can start at about 6 months and continue every 6 months.
This normally starts at about 6 months and will continue until all 20 ‘milk teeth’ are through at about 2 years. Symptoms may include high temperature, red cheeks, swollen gums and dribbling. The development of the ‘Second teeth’ happens between 6 and 14 years.
It is always best to check with your dentist as teething pains can vary. Gel may be applied by the finger and gently massaged into the baby’s gums but because of the amount of saliva caused through teething this can be difficult. Teething rings can be cooled in the fridge (not the freezer!)which can be soothing.
Dummy or Thumb Sucking?:
If infants continue to suck a finger or thumb, the tooth alignment can be affected if this occurs continuously over a number of years. It's best to gently discourage the child. When the child is older, if thumb sucking continues then corrective techniques, such as orthodontics, may be necessary. Never put a sweet syrup on the dummy, this habit will decay the new teeth as they come into the mouth.
If not breast feeding, keep foods and drinks that contain sugar to a minimum, preferably at meal times. DO NOT dip your baby’s dummy or teething ring into fruit syrups or fruit juices or give sugary food or drink before bedtime. This can expose your babies teeth to harmful acids. This will cause decay on newly formed teeth. Natural fruit juices can be acidic if taken too regularly. This will cause erosion of the tooth enamel. Fruit juice should always be watered down. When purchasing children’s medicines; choose the sugar free ones.
Cleaning Children's Teeth:
Once teething has started this is when you start to clean your children’s teeth and continue to do so until they are about the age of 6 when they can effectively clean them on their own.
Using a small soft nylon bristle toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste, position yourself behind your child and cradle their head in one hand, gently massage round the teeth and gums with the brush. As the child becomes older they will want to do it themselves but it is very important that you clean their teeth thoroughly once a day. Always supervise children when they brush their teeth and encourage them to spit out the toothpaste rather than swallow it.
Again, ask your dentist if you are unsure whether or not to be using a fluoride toothpaste. It is possible to buy low-fluoride toothpaste and you should use a small smear up to 5 years; from 5 to 7 use slightly more and a normal pea size from 7 years. Make sure they spit out the toothpaste and don’t swallow any.
The important point is to use a small-headed toothbrush with soft, nylon bristles, suitable for the age of your child. If in doubt, look for the British Dental Health Foundation Logo on toothbrush and toothpaste packing. This means that the product claims made on the packet are supported by scientific testing.
Preventing Tooth Decay:
It is very important to keep sugary foods to mealtimes only as it is not the amount of sugar in the diet but how often it is eaten and drunk. The more sugary foods and drinks your child has the more chance they have of getting decaying teeth. Try to give your child cheese, vegetables and fruit to snack on. Thorough brushing twice a day, making sure one is the last thing at night, will help prevent tooth decay. Fruit, fruit juice and colas are acidic, and too-frequent consumption will damage the child's teeth.
Nervous About Visiting the Dentist:
If you have been taking your child to the dentist since they were born, they will probably have developed a good relationship with the dentist. It is very important that if you have any fears about going to the dentist you do not discuss it in front of your child and not to let your child feel that a visit to the dentist is something to be worried about. This is why it is so important to have regular visits so the child can get used to the surroundings and what goes on.
In event of any accident to a tooth contact your dentist immediately. Outside normal dental hours, if you contact the surgery, an emergency number should be given for you to call.
This is a protective plastic coating that is applied to the biting surface of the back teeth as a way of protecting children’s teeth from tooth decay. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the pits and fissures in the teeth.
They are only applied to the back molars and premolars depending on how deep the grooves are on the teeth. The dentist will examine them and then tell you if fissure sealant will help because if they have shallow grooves they will not need sealing. The deeper the grooves it is easier for decay to start.
It is a very quick process, straightforward and should only take a few minutes per tooth. The tooth is cleaned, prepared with a special solution and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard. It is totally pain free and has no after affects.
Between the ages of 6 and 7, as soon as the permanent molars and premolars start to come through, is the best time for this treatment to be done. If you are unsure then ask your dentist or hygienist for more information. This treatment is not normally available on the NHS and has to be done privately by the dentist. Costs vary but it is usually very good value.
Pit and fissure sealing reduces tooth decay and the number of fillings your child may need but it is still very important for your child to clean their teeth as before. The smooth, sealed surface is now much easier to keep clean with a normal toothbrush.