A recent poll of children’s oral care habits, by the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, highlighted the confusion and lack of awareness regarding oral care – shown by parents and kids across the Australia. Of particular concern, was the lack of proper oral care and dental treatment given to infants, toddlers and preschoolers. The RCH report found 83% of all children surveyed had not visited the dentist by the time they had turned 2 years old, while 33% of preschoolers aged between 3 and 5 years old had yet to make their first dental visit. Additionally, a lot of these children were not even following a proper oral care routine, nor were they following a healthy, tooth-friendly diet. On average, 38.5% of all children (aged below 6) only brushed their teeth once a day, while 10% didn’t brush their teeth at all. To make matters worse, the dietary habits of our young kids put their oral health at risk with 50% of all children consuming sweetened beverages regularly. 23% of children aged below 5 years old fell asleep on most days while sipping on these harmful drinks. So, what can you do to safeguard your young child’s oral health? Listed below are oral care tips that can help ensure your child develops strong, healthy teeth.

Tips for infants and toddlers aged 0-3 years old:

  • Brush your baby’s teeth after they appear with a soft toothbrush and water twice daily.
  • Don’t let infants fall asleep with a sippy cup containing sugary liquids in their mouth, in order to prevent tooth erosion and decay.
  • Breastfeeding is the best natural option for babies.
  • Start using a normal cup for drinks when infants reach the age of 6 months old.
  • Water and plain milk are the best drink choices.
  • Make sure meals and snacks are healthy with lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid giving them sugary snacks and drinks (incl. juice) as a general rule.
  • Make sure children see a dentist when they are between 1 and 2 years old for an oral health assessment.
  • Avoid children’s medications flavoured with sugar.

Tips for infants and toddlers aged 4-5 years old:

  • Start using low fluoride toothpaste from 18 months old.
  • Teach good oral habits. Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice daily.
  • After brushing before bedtime, do not give your child any more snacks or beverages (except for water).
  • Start flossing when your child’s teeth start to make contact with each other.
  • Make sure teeth are brushed along the gum line to remove plaque.
  • Water and plain milk are still the best drink choices. Remember to include some tap water for its fluoride benefits.
  • Continue to avoid giving them sugary snacks and drinks as a general rule.
  • If your child still sucks on a pacifier or thumb, encourage them to stop, in order to prevent tooth growth and alignment problems.
  • Consult with your dentist about the frequency of dental checkups your child needs.