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Gum Disease

Gum disease or periodontal disease is a bacterial infection caused by accumulation of dental plaque on the teeth. It is a disease that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.

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YOUR ORAL HEALTH : INFANTS & TODDLERS

Introduction

"Your child depends on you for healthy baby teeth." These teeth are important as healthy teeth look good, help your child eat well and are important for speech. They also help retain space for the eruption of the permanent teeth, which helps prevent crowding.

This section will give information for parents and caregivers to protect their child's teeth.  Good oral health from an early age will help them keep their teeth for a life time.

 

Infants

 Oral Hygiene

  • Start brushing as soon as the first baby tooth comes through the gums. 
  • Buy a soft, small-headed brush and make sure that you only use a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
  • By having your infant sit or lie on your lap, both facing the same direction, you can get easy access to his or her mouth.

 Feeding

  • Breast milk is recognised as the best form of nutrition for infants. 
  • If a bottle is used always hold the baby while bottle-feeding and do not put the baby to bed with a bottle.
  • What you put in the bottle is very important for your child's oral health. Use only expressed breast milk or formula for bottle-feeding.
  • Do not put fruit juices or any other sweetened drinks in your baby's bottle. The sugar in the drinks can damage your child's baby teeth and cause early decay.
  • If you are using a pacifier to calm or soothe your child do not dip them in sugar or honey. Discontinue the use of pacifier by 2 years of age.

 Toddlers

 Oral Hygiene

  • Adults should position themselves behind a seated or standing toddler, both facing the mirror, reach around to brush the toddler's teeth.
  • Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste on a soft, small-headed toothbrush
  • Brush twice a day, morning and night, for two minutes and brushing last thing at night time before bed is very important
  • Encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out after brushing and not rinse the mouth
  • Hold the brush at 45 - degree angle to the gum line and brush gently by moving the brush back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes
  • Make sure you brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of all the teeth in upper and lower jaws
  • Check your child's brush regularly and replace it every three months or soon after the bristles start to wear out

 

Nutrition

Tooth-friendly foods and drinks are also those that are recommended for overall general health. Frequent consumption of high sugar containing foods and drinks can contribute to tooth decay. Also sweet foods that stick to teeth for long time such as dried fruit products, chocolates, or those sweet foods that are kept in the mouth for a long time such as lollipops, are particularly harmful for teeth.  

To help maintain healthy teeth

  • Reduce the frequency and amount of sugar intake by selecting healthy nutritious snacks such as fruit pieces, cheese, chopped vegetables and sandwiches
  • Avoid eating sugary foods in between meals. If your child eats sweet sticky foods, they are best eaten at mealtimes rather than between meals
  • Acidic and sugary drinks including fruit drinks, fruit juices, cordials, soft drinks and sport drinks are not recommended for infants and toddlers.

For more information view Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers.