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10 things you need to know about children's teeth

  1. Start brushing as soon as teeth appear with small soft brush
  2. Regular flossing can start as soon as two teeth are in contact
  3. Use a fluoride toothpaste with 1000ppm in line with the NZ Ministry of Health guidelines
  4. Diet is equally as important as cleaning in preventing tooth decay
  5. Limit sweet snacks and drinks to treats
  6. Choose protein rich snacks like fruit and vegetables
  7. Dental care is free for children under 18 years of age
  8. Ensure children are taken for regular check ups
  9. Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for infants
  10. It is important not to bottle feed fruit drinks or sweetened drinks as this causes acid attacks on teeth

Top Tips for Oral Health from Colgate

  1. Baby teeth are important. They do eventually fall out but until they do, baby teeth play an important role in helping your child bite and chew food, and speak clearly. Baby teeth also save space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into place.
  2. Clean their teeth in the morning before going to bed at night. At some point, your child will want to brush his or her own teeth. It is important for children to learn to brush teeth and it's great to give your child a turn, but afterwards, you should always brush your child's teeth a second time. Most children won't be able to brush their teeth well on their own until they are about 8 years old.
  3. Check your child’s teeth regularly to detect dental decay. The best way to do this is to lift back the lips to check for chalky white spots or lines on the tooth near the gum line. If you notice this on their teeth take your child to a community dental clinic as soon as possible - dental care is free for children under 18 years.
  4. Plunket staff or other well child health providers can tell you how to contact your local community dental clinic and enrol your child. It’s important to commence regular dental check-ups from the moment your child’s first teeth appear. Community dental clinics are a free service and are often located within primary schools. You can also contact 0800 TALK TEETH/0800 825 583 to find your nearest clinic.
  5. Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks can cause Early Childhood Caries. Avoid eating sugary foods in between meals. If your child eats sweet sticky foods, they are best eaten at mealtimes. Also, encourage your children to drink water during and at the end of their meals to wash out any remnant sugar.

Thanks to Colgate and the NZ Dental Association's Healthy Smiles for their contributions.

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