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Oral Care For The Early Stage Of Life

For information about family dentistry at Surbiton Smile Centre ® and advice on Oral Care for the following Life Stages:

Oral Care During Pregnancy

Taking care of your mouth and teeth is just as important during pregnancy, as it is at any other time of your life.  Pregnancy affects nearly every part of a woman’s life, including her oral health. Conditions to be aware of include bleeding gums, dry mouth and morning sickness. It you are experiencing any of these complaints, then contact us at the Surbiton Smile Centre ® for an appointment.

Conditions To Be Aware Of During Pregnancy

To minimize risks during pregnancy, here is some general guidance:

  • Gum Disease: during pregnancy, your teeth and gums need special attention. Regular brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, eating a balanced diet and visiting us regularly will help reduce dental problems that can accompany pregnancy.
  • Enamel Erosion: A symptom of pregnancy is morning sickness. For some women this can be quite a major issue, whereas for others it is a relatively minor one. Along with the vomiting comes additional acid that, if left in your mouth, can erode your teeth. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with water or with a fluoride mouthwash to keep this acid level under control.
  • Dry Mouth: Developing a dry mouth during pregnancy can potentially place you at a greater risk of tooth decay and infection. It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and chewing sugarless gum to help maintain your production of saliva.

Oral Care For Infants

Prenatal Stage

Prior to giving birth make sure that you follow these steps:

Keep to your routine of having regular Dental check-ups. Be sure to get any needed dental work done.

Develop good oral habits. Brush your teeth (2 minutes) at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Aim to place the bristles of the toothbrush on the gum line. This is where gum disease can start. By looking after your gums and keeping them healthy is as important as ever. Floss daily to clean between the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach. If applicable use an inter-dental brush for cleaning any inter-dental areas as well.

Try and reduce the number of times you eat sweet snacks each day. Snacks that are sweet can cause ‘acid attacks’ on your teeth. So, drink fewer sugary drinks and eat fewer sweets. Try and eat more fruit and vegetables.

Seek Prenatal Care. Follow the advice of your designated health care professional and your dentist. This is vital not just for your health but the health of your unborn baby as well.

Ensure that you are acquiring adequate Calcium in your diet. Calcium is found in milk, cheese, dried beans, and leafy green vegetables and is important for your baby’s teeth and bones.

The First 6 Months Antenatal

Babies need healthy teeth to eat, talk, and smile. These steps will help to ensure this:

Never put your baby to bed with a bottle. This can cause a considerable number of cavities in new teeth. If you breast feed, avoid letting your baby nurse continuously. Any liquid, even milk and juice, can cause cavities. The only exception to this is water. If you think your baby needs to suck on something whensleeping, then try a pacifier (dummy) or a bottle with only water in it.

Fluoride prevents cavities and makes teeth stronger. As soon as the first baby teeth appear, it is time to start cleaning them with an appropriate fluoride toothpaste and brush. If your water does not have fluoride in it, or if you use bottled water for drinking or cooking, the Surbiton Smile Centre ® or your GP may prescribe fluoride.

The Next 6 – 18 Months

Most babies do not start getting their baby teeth until they are six months old, so dental care is important from the very beginning. At the Surbiton Smile Centre ®, we recommend an initial visit to us, just before the child’s first birthday to make sure that erupting teeth and gums are cared for and cleaned properly.

It is a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums soon after birth. Although there may be a little fussing at first, your infant will get used to having the mouth cleaned like other parts of the body. Many children grow to enjoy tooth brushing as part of their daily routine.

During your baby’s first year, there are a few conditions to be aware of, including:


Between 3 and 9 months, your child’s baby teeth will begin to emerge into the mouth. Teething may make your child irritable or fussy and may cause restlessness, drooling or loss of appetiteDuring the first few years of life, all 20 of the primary teeth will erupt through the gums. (10 on the top and 10 on the bottom). Most children have their full set of primary teeth in place by the age of three. The technical term for these early teeth is Deciduous Teeth, because they eventually fall out, just as the leaves fall off from deciduous trees in Autumn. However, most people refer to these as Baby Teeth, Milk Teeth, or Primary Teeth.

The teething process starts with the lower two front teeth (incisors), followed by the four incisors on both the lower and upper jaw. Then the first molars erupt, followed by canines (eye teeth), and then the second molars further back in the mouth.

Some babies may have sore or tender gums when their teeth begin to grow. Gently rubbing the gums with a clean finger, an infant gum massager or a wet gauze pad can help soothe the discomfort. A clean cold teething ring for your child to chew on may also help.

Here are some tips to clean your baby’s mouth:

Lay your baby in your lap. The head should be close to your chest so that you can look directly into your child’s mouth.

Clean the gums and the teeth (when they arrive) by rubbing a clean, damp, wash cloth along the baby’s upper and lower gums. You can also use Terrycloth finger cots, which fit over the finger and are made for this purpose.

Follow these steps at least twice a day: once after breakfast, and once after the last feeding of the day.

When the teeth begin to erupt, start brushing them at least two to three times a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Toothpaste is not recommended until a child reaches the age of two. At that time, supervise brushing to ensure that your child does not swallow any toothpaste.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

It is important for parents to understand the causes of baby bottle tooth decay so they can prevent it. Common triggers include milk, formula, and fruit juices, because the sugary liquids from these drinks pool around the teeth for long periods of time as your baby sleeps. This can lead to cavities, which develop in the upper and lower front teeth.

Pacifier (Dummy)

Sucking is a normal part of development that is comforting to children well into their first years of life. In fact, sucking often brings comfort even after a child no longer needs to get nourishment from a breast or bottle. During a child’s first few years, sucking habits probably won’t damage his or her mouth. But frequent and long-term sucking can cause problems. This is especially true if the habit continues after the baby teeth start to fall out.

If your child uses a pacifier, make sure it is always used safely. Never fasten a pacifier on a string or necklace around your child’s neck, or else your child could accidentally be strangled.

Choose a pacifier that:

  • Is one piece rather than several parts.
  • Has ventilating holes on the sides.
  • Is large enough so that it cannot be swallowed
  • Is made of a flexible, nontoxic material.
  • Has a handle that is easy to grasp.

Always check the pacifier before giving it to your child. Make sure there are no rips or tears. If there are, replace it. Never dip a pacifier in honey or any other sweet substance before giving it to your baby.

Oral Care For Children

At the age of six most children start to lose their baby teeth, which are then replaced with adult teeth. This process will continue into their early teens.

Conditions To Be Aware Of During Childhood

Wiggly teeth: When a child is about 6 years old their teeth will begin to come loose. Let your child wiggle the tooth until it falls out on its own. This will minimize the pain and bleeding associate with a lost tooth.

Cavities: Cavities can develop when sugar-containing foods are allowed to stay in the mouth for a long time. Bacteria that live on the teeth feast on these bits of food and can eat away at the tooth enamel. Saliva washes away the acid between meals but be aware that if your child is always eating, there may not be time for this acid to get washed away.

Helping Your Child To Care For Their Teeth

Teaching your child proper oral care at a young age is an investment in his or her health that will pay lifelong dividends. You can start by setting an example; taking good care of your own teeth sends a message that oral health is something to be valued. If you can make taking care of teeth fun, like brushing along with your child or letting them choose their own toothbrush or making a game out of brushing will encourage proper oral care.

To help your child protect their teeth and gums and thus reduce their risk of getting cavities, teach them to follow these simple steps:

  • Brush twice a day with afluoride toothpaste to remove plaque (the sticky film on the teeth that is the main cause of tooth decay).
  • Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by ourDental Hygienist.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods, which in turn produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack. (The extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from the mouth).
  • Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
  • Make sure that your child’s drinking water is fluoridated. If your water supply does not contain fluoride, we or your GP may prescribe daily fluoride supplements.
  • Take your child to the Surbiton Smile Centre ® for regular check-ups.

Tips On Brushing Techniques

You may want to supervise your child until they get the hang of these simple steps:

  • Use a pea-sized dab offluoride toothpaste. Take care that your child does not swallow the toothpaste.
  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush the inside surface of each tooth first, where plaque may accumulate the most. Brush gently back and forth.
  • Clean the outer surfaces of each tooth. Angle the brush along the outer gum line. Gently brush back and forth.
  • Brush the chewing surface of each tooth. Gently brush back and forth.
  • Use the tip of the brush to clean behind each front tooth, both top and bottom.
  • And to finish off remember that it is always fun to brush the tongue!

When To Begin Flossing?

Flossing removes food particles and plaque between teeth that brushing misses, you should floss for your child from the age of 4. By the time they reach the age of 8, most children can begin flossing for themselves.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Thorough brushing and flossing help to remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of the teeth, but toothbrushes alone cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract all food and plaque. While fluoride helps prevent decay and helps protect all the surfaces of the teeth, Dental Sealants add extra protection for those grooved and pitted areas.

What Are Pits And Fissures?

The surfaces of molars are naturally irregular, allowing your tooth surfaces to grind food as you chew. Dentists classify these dips and valleys as pits and fissures.Some people have deeper pits and fissures in their molars than others. In fact, different teeth in the same mouth can have a different pattern of pits and fissures as well. Fissures in one molar can be very deep, for instance, whereas those in the adjacent tooth may be shallower.

Although the rough surfaces of your molars are necessary for them to properly grind food, they are also more likely to collect excess particles that lead to tooth decay. They also provide a surface area on which plaque can build up and calcify. Keep in mind deep fissures are harder to clean, so it is tougher for you to brush out all the lingering food, sugars and developing plaque on these teeth every morning and night.

Thorough brushing is even more difficult for small children, who, according to the American Dental Association, are more likely to get cavities than adults. The first permanent molars arrive at roughly six years of age and are meant to last your whole life. But fissure decay can damage these teeth at such an early age, requiring restoration that, although effective, willpossibly reduce the lifespan of the tooth.

How Do Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities?

A fissure sealant is a very effective method of protecting molars from decay during childhood. Designed as a coating to be painted over the teeth, this preventive material creates a barrier between the enamel and the bacteria that would otherwise build up freely. Dental Sealants provide unique protection in deep fissures, where your toothbrush cannot reach. The Dental Sealant does not affect your child’s ability to chew or cause any permanent change to the enamel.

What To Expect For A Dental Sealant Procedure?

The placing of Dental Sealants is usually painless and does not require drilling or numbing medications.

  1. Tooth Preparation: First, ourDental Hygienist at the Surbiton Smile Centre ® will polish the surface of the tooth to remove plaque and food debris from the pit and fissure surfaces. Next the Hygienist will isolate and dry the tooth. Then the surface of the tooth will be etched, the etching material rinsed off and the tooth dried.
  2. Sealant Application:Our Dental Hygienist applies the Dental Sealantto the surface of the tooth with a brush; a self-curing light will be used for about 30 seconds to bond the sealant to the tooth surface.
  3. Evaluation:Finally, ourDental Hygienist together with our Principal Dentist will evaluate the Dental Sealant and check its occlusion. Once, the Dental Sealant has hardened it becomes a hard-plastic coating, and you can chew on the tooth If the sealant is applied properly it will last a very long time.

How Important Is Diet To My Child’s Oral Health?

A balanced diet is necessary for your child to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth. In addition to a full range of vitamins and minerals, a child’s diet should include plenty of calcium, phosphorous, and proper levels of fluoride.

If fluoride is your child’s greatest protection against tooth decay, then frequent snacking may be the biggest enemy. The sugars and starches found in many foods and snacks like biscuits, sweets, dried fruit, soft drinks, and crisps combine with plaque on teeth to create acids. These acids attack the tooth enamel and may lead to cavities.

Each plaque attack can last up to 20 minutes after a meal or snack has been finished. Even a little nibble can create plaque acids. So, it is best to limit snacking between meals.

My Child has Chipped, Broken or Knocked their Tooth out?

With any injury to your child’s mouth, you should contact the Surbiton Smile Centre ® immediately. Our Dentist will want to examine the affected area and determine appropriate treatment.

If your child is in pain from a broken, cracked or chipped tooth, you should visit us immediately. You may want to give an over-the-counter pain relief to your child until his/her appointment. If possible, keep any part of the tooth that has broken off and take this with you.

If a tooth is completely knocked out of the mouth by an injury, take the tooth to us as soon as possible. Handle the tooth as little as possible — do not wipe or otherwise clean the tooth. Store the tooth in water or milk until you get to us. It may be possible for the tooth to be placed back into your child’s mouth; a procedure called reimplantation.

Oral Care For Teenagers

Puberty, acne, facial appearance, braces, third molars, bad breath, public examinations, self-esteem and confidence are just a few of the many life-changing aspects for a teenager to worry about. As they make the transition from childhood to be a young adult it is vital for them to continue the good oral habits developed as a young child.

Conditions To Be Aware Of During The Teenage Years

As teenagers continue to grow, they are faced with certain dental issues, such as getting braces (Orthodontic Treatment) or having their wisdom teeth removed. Many of these procedures are a normal part of life, while others are proactive steps that the Dental staff at the Surbiton Smile Centre ® take to help ensure a lifetime of oral health.

  • Bad breath(halitosis): Bacteria that forms on the tongue is the usual culprit. In many cases, a simple change in the personal oral hygiene habits can freshen the teenager up, starting with good oral hygiene, brushing the tongue and maintaining regular visits to our dentist.
  • Whitening Options: Keeping the pearly whites white can be done with whitening toothpastes, mouth rinses and toothbrushes. The Surbiton Smile Centre ® also offers whitening treatment options that can be performed in the surgery and at home.
  • Tobacco Use: It is far easier to kick a smoking habit earlier rather than later. Tobacco contains toxins that can cause various types of cancer, gum disease, bad breath, tooth discoloration and also a diminished sense of smell.
  • Oral Piercings: Any oral piercing can have adverse effects on the health of the tongue, lips, cheeks and uvula. Oral problems associated with swallowed/aspirated jewellery, speech impairment, fractured teeth and gingival recession can also occur.
  • Wisdom Teeth: These are the third and last molars to grow on each side of the upper and lower jaws. They usually appear when in the late teenage years or early 20s. Unfortunately, as these teeth are the last permanent ones to appear, they can sometimes only partially emerge or become crooked due to crowding. If the teeth are impacted (i.e. below the gum line), swelling and tenderness may occur.

As a teenager, socializing, schoolwork and catching up on sleep become the major priorities. Proper oral hygiene may be considered as not ‘cool’ and is often put to one side especially when running late for school thereby reducing the full two-minute routine toothbrushing routine.

This actually is one of the biggest issues for teenagers. When they do brush their teeth, it is usually not for a long enough period of time. In reality they are lucky if they clock a meagre 30 seconds. Smartphone timer apps or even an old-fashioned egg timer can help teenagers become more aware of how long they should be brushing. If you have a teenager who is constantly wearing headphones, then why not consider a three-minute song as a guideline to brushing?

Dealing With A Teenager Diet

Teenagers seem to survive on a constant of diet of canned drinks, chips and crisps. But these snacks are high in sugar which in turn promotes bacteria and cavities. By making healthier choices available such as bottled water, cut vegetables, whole-grain crackers and other sugar free snacks, your teenager may be less likely to indulge in ‘forbidden’ food!

Developing A Charm Offensive

Teenagers are notoriously concerned with their looks, so appealing to their image can be one way to encourage them to brush up on their oral hygiene habits. A gentle reminderthat a slack dental care routine could result in yellow stains and bad breath can help remind them that the importance of toothbrushing is more than just staying cavityfree. If your teenager is self-conscious about their smile, whitening toothpaste and mouthwash can help to improve their confidence and contribute to a regular hygiene habit.

While teenagers might be perpetually leaving things to the last minute, skipping regular oral care to catch a few more minutes of sleep in the morning can have serious consequences. Making oral hygiene simple, quick and personalized may inspire your teenager to brush regularly, and of course maybe even get to school on time!

Orthodontic Treatment For Teenagers

In certain cases, such as cross bites, protruding front teeth and crowding are easier to address in these formative years. An early intervention takes advantage when the dental arches and jaws are not in the correct position. As ever good dental hygiene is crucial for teenagers wearing braces and other dental devices. It is important for them to rinse their mouth out with water three to four times a day in order to loosen food that may be caught in the braces and then brush thoroughly. At night time, flossing their teeth and rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash can help keep their teeth strong and healthy.

Once per day, your teenager should floss, which will help loosen food debris and plaque at and under the gum line that would otherwise harden into tartar. It can also help to reach the nooks and crannies in the teeth that might be difficult to reach with a toothbrush. Flossing with braces can be difficult, but you can use many options to help ensure the gums stay healthy. Talk to us at the Surbiton Smile Centre ®, for oral care recommendations.

Every six months your teenager should visit us for a cleaning and a check-up. We can then point out areas that need more attention and help make sure your teenager’s teeth are healthy and clean in and around the braces. Often, we can suggest helpful tools or ideas to keep their teeth healthy while the braces are on.

Follow This Little Guide And You’ll Have Healthy Teeth.

  • Step 1:

    Squeeze a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing flouride onto a child-size, soft brush.

  • Step 2:

    Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums and gently brush back and forth across each tooth.

  • Step 3:

    Brush all sides of each tooth including the front and back sides.

  • Step 4:

    Place the toothbrush vertical against the inside or the back of the teeth and brush up and down.

  • Step 5:

    Spit out the excess toothpaste as you brush for three minutes.

  • Step 6:

    Brush the tounge to remove excess bacteria.

  • Step 7:

    Rinse the mouth with a cup of water. Swish the water around the mouth and spit it out

  • Step 8:

    Don't forget to brush at least tywice a day.

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Discover The Different Parts Of A Tooth And Learn About Their Functions.

A tooth is basically made up of two parts: the crown and the root. The crown is what you see when you smile or open your mouth. It’s the part that sits above your gum line. The root is below the gum line. It makes up about 2/3rds of the tooth’s total length.

Four different tissues make up each tooth. The enamel is the durable, white covering. It protects the tooth from the wear and tear of chewing. The dentinsupports the enamel on your teeth. It’s a yellow bone-like material that’s softer than enamel and carries some of the nerve fibres that tell you when something is going wrong inside your tooth.

The pulp is the centre of the tooth. It’s a soft tissue that contains blood, lymph vessels and nerves. The pulp is how the tooth receives nourishment and transmits signals to your brain. The cementum is what covers most of the root of the tooth. It helps to attach the tooth to the bones in your jaw. A cushioning layer called the periodontal ligament sits between the cementum and the jawbone. It helps to connect the two.

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Your Teeth Look Different From One Another Because
They Are Designed To Do Different Things.

The incisors are the teeth in the very front. They’re the sharpest teeth,
built to cut food and shaped to shovel the food inward.

The canine teeth are in the corners of your mouth. Because they’re meant for grasping and tearing food, they have very long roots.

Premolars are located just behind your canine teeth. Premolars have a more flat chewing surface because they’re meant for crushing food.

The molars are the last teeth towards the back of your mouth. Molars are much bigger than the premolars and have bigger, flatter chewing surfaces because their job is to chew and grind the food into smaller pieces.

Help Terry the Tooth pick up the teeth in this game.
Use the Arrow keys – up/down/left/right.
Try not to get caught by the naughty sweets!

Click the picture to scramble it then click and drag the picture pieces into place to put it back the way it was!

Want to have a little fun and learn new things about teeth?

Try Colgate Kids tooth games and activities!

From baby teeth to braces, healthy teeth is all about what goes on inside your mouth.

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about oral health.

Our Family Dental Care Specialists

Wendy Piercy (Dental hygienist) EDH

Contact Surbiton Smile Centre ® today

Please get in touch if you are concerned about any aspect of your dental health. We will treat you fairly and honestly - and we look forward to being able to help you.

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