Home » Tamariki Ora Health Promotion » Oral Health
 

Oral Health

It is important to look after baby teeth:

The first steps to producing strong healthy teeth are to eat healthy during pregnancy to give the developing foetus a good start before birth and then to breastfeed baby for the first six months of life.

•  No tooth decay – no fillings
•  Healthy teeth are needed to eat, smile and speak correctly
•  Decayed teeth cause pain and suffering. Healthy first teeth hold spaces for second teeth – helps avoid second teeth being crooked.


Two Terrific Tips for caring for toddlers’ teeth
1. Limit sugary and acid attacks
The more often your children have sweet things the more likely they are to get tooth decay. It is better to give your child sweet food and drinks at mealtimes. This is how an acid attack works……..


Bacteria in dental plaque break down sugar and produce acid- the acid attack. The acid then dissolves the enamel layer of the tooth. Over time a cavity (hole) is formed.
Teeth go through continuous cycles of softening (after eating sugary food) and hardening (when saliva washes the acid away). After food- especially sugary food- the level of acid is high. This acid dissolves minerals out of the teeth. Teeth become weaker and are more likely to decay. As the level of acid drops off- as saliva washes around the teeth- minerals re-enter the teeth. The teeth become stronger and are less likely to decay. So teeth are constantly going through a series of changes. They lose minerals after eating food- especially sugary food. Then the saliva washes the acid away, and minerals are deposited back onto the enamel surface. 


Give snacks such as bread, cheese, yogurt, pieces of fruit and raw vegetables between meals. Water is best, but if your child has juice, just add a little juice to water.Sweet drinks- such as fruit juice or sweetened milk can cause tooth decay. Honey, sugar or other sweet things on a dummy/pacifier can harm your child’s teeth.
Plaque: a sticky layer covering the surface of the teeth. Plaque contains large numbers of bacteria.
Minerals: substances in teeth which make them strong. Calcium and fluoride are important minerals in teeth.

2. Tooth Fairy Tips
•  Clean teeth twice daily.•  Use a soft child size toothbrush- a smear of fluoride toothpaste (pea size). For children under the age of six years use a junior paste, it has less fluoride and a milder flavour.•  Start brushing teeth from about 6 months old when the first teeth come through. Family members make the best role models.•  Use gentle circle motions•  Spit-don’t rinse. This will leave a coating of fluoride on the teeth
Are muesli bars and fruit roll ups healthy?
Muesli bars and fruit roll ups all have loads of sugar. It’s the constant snacking of sugary foods which is bad for teeth. (Refer to terrific tips for caring for toddler’s teeth in this section!).  They are best saved for after meal treats.

Frequently Asked Questions - Oral Health


My child does not drink milk or water but juice. How can I change that?
Try diluting the juice with water, adding more water each day until it just colours the water.  Juices that are labelled with no added sugar still contain loads of sugar- a 400ml pure orange juice (no added sugar) contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar!


My child won’t go to sleep without a bottle. What can I do?
If the bottle has got juice or cordial in, it is really bad for teeth.  Even milk and formula in the bottle is not good.  Your child will go to sleep with fluid and acid washing around the teeth causing teeth decay. Try breaking the habit as soon as possible.


Is it ok to share toothbrushes?
No. Infections can be shared this way.


What is the difference between children’s toothpaste and other toothpaste? 
Children’s toothpastes have less fluoride than adult-strength toothpaste.  Using low fluoride toothpaste will reduce the likelihood of fluorosis (white mottling on permanent teeth)


Should my child use fluoride tablets or use a fluoride mouth rinse?
A fluoride mouth rinse should not be used by preschoolers and only if a dental therapist or dentist has advised it.


Why is it important to look after a child’s first teeth as they will be replaced by second teeth?
Decayed teeth cause a child suffering and pain and a child may need a general anaesthetic and have them taken out. Even though they cannot be seen, the second or adult teeth are developing in the gums when a child is very young. Healthy first teeth hold the places for the second teeth. This helps the second teeth from being crooked and needing expensive dental work later.