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The information contained on this web site is for educational purpose only and is not meant to serve as delivery of professional care. The information in this Resource Page should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health that is Dental health. It is not a substitute for medical or dental advice.

Always consult your dentist about your individual condition(s) and/or circumstances.


The habits formed when a person is a child will generally be carried on through adulthood. This means that instilling good dental care habits in a child is a very important part of raising a child. Teaching a child the value of brushing his or her teeth will contribute to good dental and overall health when that child is an adult.

When a child is a baby, there are still things that can be done to contribute to good oral health. For starters, as soon as a baby has teeth, it is a good idea to wipe them down with a soft cloth or baby tooth brush. This will prevent decay of baby teeth before the child can even feed his or herself. In addition, it is an excellent idea never to give a baby a bottle while in the crib. While a bottle of water may not do damage, allowing the baby to have milk or juice just before bed will allow the sugars in the liquid to decay teeth all night.

Once the child is old enough, he or she should use a fluoride toothpaste to brush his or her teeth. Fluoride has long been shown to prevent dental decay and cavities. When a child has fluoride toothpaste, he or she needs to be supervised to prevent too much toothpaste from being swallowed.

Healthy snacks and a low-sugar diet are also important for a child. Providing snacks that are too high in sugar, in addition to their overall negative effect on a child's health, will contribute more to tooth decay. In addition, healthy snacks will instill good eating habits in a child from a young age.

Just like all people, children need a diet that is high in calcium for bone and dental health. Low-fat milk is one of the best ways to get this calcium while avoiding a high fat content. In addition to needing lots of calcium for their current teeth, children need calcium to help the formation of their adult teeth.


Infants can experience tooth decay soon after the baby teeth erupt, which is usually between nine months and two years. Tooth decay in infants is sometimes referred to as 'early childhood caries' or 'baby bottle decay'.

As children often have sugary food and drinks, bacteria in their mouth can use these sugars to produce acid that attacks immature tooth enamel. Regular coating of the teeth with sugary foods or drinks by sucking from bottles containing fruit juice or sweet drinks (eg. cordial and soft drink) or sucking on dummies dipped in sugar syrups (eg. honey) can cause early childhood caries.

Seek treatment from a dental professional.

To avoid early childhood caries, follow these tips:

  • Breast milk and water are the best drinks for babies - avoid undiluted juice, cordial and soft drinks.

  • Introduce the cup at around six months.

  • Stop using the bottle at around 12 months.

  • Take the bottle away once the baby is finished drinking.

  • Never use sweet syrups on a dummy.

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Dental care - preventing infant tooth decay

Early childhood caries can occur in children as young as six to 12 months of age. In infants, the upper four front teeth (incisors) are the most commonly affected. Dental caries are holes in teeth caused by decay. Early childhood caries can be caused by the inappropriate use of bottles.

How to tell if your infant has early childhood caries

Early childhood caries can be difficult to detect. Its appearance will depend on how advanced the condition is. Early childhood caries may show up as:

  • A dull white band along the gumline this is the first sign and usually remains undetected by parents. Bacteria found in plaque change sugars into acids, which dissolve minerals in the tooth's enamel in a process known as demineralisation. If untreated, this can lead to holes (cavities or caries) in the teeth.

  • A yellow, brown or black collar around the neck of the teeth this indicates that the demineralisation has progressed to cavities.

  • Teeth that look like brownish-black stumps this indicates that the infant has advanced cavities. The upper four incisors (front teeth) are usually involved, while the lower incisors remain relatively unaffected. The back teeth may also be involved.

Importance of early detection

Unfortunately, in most cases, early childhood caries is not picked up until the child is about 20 months of age. By this stage, many children need significant dental treatment. This can be traumatic for both the infant and parents.

Feeding tips to prevent early childhood caries

Breastfeeding is best as it carries a reduced risk of early childhood caries. If bottle feeding is necessary:

  • Take the bottle away when the child has had enough.

  • Use cooled, boiled water if the child needs a bottle for comfort or extra fluids.

  • Introduce the child to a feeding cup between six and eight months of age. In most cases, the bottle can be discarded when the child is 12 months old.

  • Encourage children to drink water rather than fruit juices or sweet drinks when thirsty.


Toothbrushing recommendations include:

  • Start as soon as the first tooth appears. Wipe the front and back of each tooth using a finger wrapped in a face washer.

  • Introduce a soft toothbrush at 12 months (earlier if tolerated by the infant).

  • Introduce toothpaste at about 18 months of age.

  • Use a pea-size amount of toothpaste.

  • Use low fluoride toothpaste for children under six years old.

Dental checks
Dental check-ups can help detect early childhood caries. The Child Health Record recommends two dental checks before the age of three and a half years. This may be done by a maternal and child health nurse or a dental professional.

Fluoride helps protect teeth against caries

Seventy-five per cent of Victorians have access to fluoride in their water. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, seek professional dental advice about the use of fluoride toothpaste for children. A dental professional may advise more frequent use of fluoride toothpaste, commencement of toothpaste at a younger age or earlier commencement of use of standard toothpaste.

Fluoride supplements in the form of drops or tablets to be chewed or swallowed should not be used as they can affect the development of your child's second teeth and cause dental fluorosis (staining).

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Dummies and medicines

Avoid dipping dummies in honey, glycerine or other foods or liquids. If your child needs medicine, ask your doctor to prescribe a sugar-free form.

Things to remember

  • Early detection of early childhood caries may prevent the need for dental treatment.

  • Tooth cleaning should begin as soon as your infant's first tooth appears.

  • Use a low fluoride toothpaste for children under six years of age.


Children's first teeth are the lower center teeth. They usually make their arrival around 6 months of age. They are also the first baby teeth to fall out. This generally occurs at 6 years of age. Children will lose the upper center teeth next.
Baby teeth fall out in order to make room for permanent teeth. Children will continue to lose their baby teeth until about 11 to 12 years of age. Typically, the teeth will fall out in the same order they came in: center incisor teeth, first molar, canines, and second molars.

Some children are very nervous about losing teeth, while others become extremely excited about the process. Losing baby teeth generally does not cause any discomfort. However, some children do have sore gums and light bleeding. Mild pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be given to assist with any pain.


Since permanent teeth last forever, it is important your child learn good hygiene. Teach the child to brush his teeth after every meal and get him in the practice of flossing before bed. Children should visit the dentist for the first time at age 3. If complications arise, they may need to go earlier.

When the permanent back teeth come in, the dentist will place a sealant to help protect against decay. In addition, sugary treats should be limited, and a fluoride supplement should be given if your drinking water does not have fluoride.


The first "regular" dental visit should be just after your child's third birthday. The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. We may ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold their child during the examination. The parent may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.

We will gently examine your child's teeth and gums. X-rays may be taken (to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child's permanent teeth under the gums). We may clean your child's teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. We will make sure your child is receiving adequate fluoride at home. Most important of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child's teeth.

What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?

We are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way that you would before their first haircut or trip to the shoe store. Your child's reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you.

Here are some "First Visit" tips:

  • Read books with them about going to the dentist.

  • Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.

  • Speak positively about your own dental experiences

During your first visit the dentist will:

  • Examine your mouth, teeth and gums

  • Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking

  • Check to see if you need Fluoride

  • Teach you about cleaning your teeth and gums

  • Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.

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Breast milk and formula both contain natural kinds of sugar, making infants highly susceptible to tooth decay. Some parents do not understand the importance of caring for a baby's teeth, reasoning that the teeth their child was born with will fall out anyway.

The truth is that your child will use those teeth for biting and chewing for years, not to mention the process of learning spoken language. Baby teeth also function as "place holders" for adult teeth; if baby teeth fall out too soon, there may not be room for adult teeth to grow in.

Before Teeth Develop

Many dentists agree that it is important to keep your infant's mouth clean even before he or she begins to teeth. This will increase your child's hygiene while establish mouth-cleaning as a nightly ritual, making it easier to introduce your child to the concept of brushing. It is recommended that you gently wash the gums with a wet cloth or infant toothbrush. Be careful not to be too rough.

Early Teeth

After your child begins teething, the method for keeping his or her mouth clean will not change much at first. Using a cotton swab, gently wipe down the teeth and clean the gums. It may be difficult to get your child to sit still for this, especially if you have waited for teeth to appear before you began cleaning his or her mouth. With practice, however, it should become easier.

Check with your pediatrician about the correct time to start using toothpaste. Use a very small amount for a child's early years; a pea-sized blob is usually sufficient. Remember, children's teeth decay faster than adults', so do not be too lax about enforcing regular brushing!

Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in sealant technology to protect your child's teeth. Sealants are space-age plastics that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child's lifetime of good oral health.

Cavity prevention

Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. The longer it takes your child to chew their foods the longer the residue stays on their teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities.

Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities.

Consistency of a person's saliva also makes a difference; thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats diets high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn allows more of the acid-producing bacteria that can cause cavities.

Tips for cavity prevention:

  • Limit Frequency of meals and snacks.

  • Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.

  • Watch what you drink.

  • Avoid sticky foods.

  • Make treats part of meals.

  • Choose nutritious snacks.

The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. Next to follow will be the 4 upper front teeth and the remainder of your baby's teeth will appear periodically. They will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2 1/2 years old.

At around 2 1/2 years old your child should have all 20 teeth. Between the ages of 5 and 6 the first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don't. Don't worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as all children are different.

Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth but they are important to chewing, biting, speech and appearance.

For this reason it is important to maintain a healthy diet and daily hygiene.

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What is the best time to start orthodontic treatment?

This all depends on the specific dental problem and the way the teeth and jaws are developing, we are all unique, even siblings. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist at age 7. The reason for this early examination is to allow the specialist to determine when is the ideal time (if any) for the child to be treated for optimal improvement. Early treatment can give the orthodontist the chance to: - Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth. - Guide the facial and dental growth. - Correct harmful oral habits. - Improve appearance...

The best time to start is just before, or immediately after, all the permanent teeth (excluding the wisdom teeth) erupt, as this would coincide with maximum growth activity of the child. Maximum orthodontic response is seen at this stage. This is generally between the ages of 10 and 14 years. Sometimes treatment is started as early as 7 or 8 years, especially when the child needs what is known as 'functional therapy'. It is best to seek your dentist's advice.

Wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 16 and 25 and are considered an individual's third molars. They are often extracted as they can interfere with the other teeth. In general, people have 4 wisdom teeth. However, some people may have fewer or more.

Impacted wisdom teeth are classified into several categories. Mesioangular impaction is where the tooth is tilted forward and is the most common form. When it is tilted towards the back, it is known as distoangular impaction. If the tooth simply does not erupt but is in the traditional vertical form it is referred to as vertical impaction. Lastly, the least frequent impaction is horizontal, in which the tooth is at a 90 degree angle and is growing towards the second molar. When in the maxilla, the upper jaw, distoangular impactions are the easiest to remove, while mesioangular impactions are the most difficult. It is the opposite for the mandible, the lower jaw, in which mesioangular impactions are the easiest, and distoangular being the hardest.

Occasionally, the wisdom tooth does not erupt completely and a soft tissue flap, known as an opercalum, extends over the teeth. Teeth with an overcalum are very difficult to clean properly, and debris and bacteria have easy access. This can result in periocoronitis, which is a common infection in young adults. Symptoms include swelling of the gum, pain, and bad taste in the mouth. If untreated, it can lead to far more severe infections.

Learning about Wisdom Teeth

They grow in when you are older and wiser, that is why they call them your Wisdom Teeth. Also known as third molars, wisdom teeth are the last teeth to grow in your mouth. They can come in at any time, typically between the ages of 17 and 25 years old. Some would consider them a product of evolution that has become an inconvenience in modern times.

Why We Have Them and the Problem

Early humans had a rough diet that caused excessive wear on their teeth. The teeth would compensate by shifting, leaving enough space for most wisdom teeth to grow in by adolescence. Today, a combination of our softer diet and a desire for straight teeth often leaves us without the room for our wisdom teeth to grow in. This creates a problem when our final four molars enter the mouth, making it necessary for many people to have their wisdom teeth removed.

When Wisdom Teeth Should be Removed

An absence of symptoms does not mean that your wisdom teeth are not going to cause you problems in the future. As wisdom teeth grow, their roots become longer and they become more difficult to remove. Damage can actually be occurring while there is no pain or visible signs. One survey estimated that 85% of third molars will eventually need to be removed.

Removing wisdom teeth is a lot easier to do when you are younger because the roots are not completely formed. The procedure becomes more complicated at a later age because the roots have fully developed and the jawbone is denser. Earlier removal, as in before your wisdom teeth start to bother you, is best and has a less complicated healing process.

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