The DCby1 (dental check by one) Campaign was launched by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry in September to encourage all babies to be taken to the dentist for their first dental check by the age of one. This is a campaign that I feel very strongly towards due to the research I uncovered whilst writing my book Your Teething Baby: from one parent to another. I was shocked to read from the NHS that one of the main causes for a child to be admitted to hospital is down to tooth decay and that in a survey of five-year-olds carried out in 2012 it was found that more than one in four had some degree of tooth decay. These facts are shocking and one of the main reasons I believe they are happening is down to a lack of knowledge of the teeth and how to care for them.
I have spoken to many parents over the last few years regarding teething and oral care and it is clear that a lot of them are not being provided with sufficient information about their babies teeth. The biggest drive for me to write my book was to be able to provide vital information on the teething process but to also cover the follow-on topics of tooth and gum health, taking a baby to a dentist and how to avoid tooth decay because I was never given any help or advice on these topics and couldn’t find a suitable book out there to guide me.
One of the main misconceptions is that the milk teeth do not matter. You can almost get the ‘logic’ of some who say well they lose them anyway and it is only the adult teeth that matter but unfortunately, this is a complete myth and even further proof of the lack of information provided. The health of the milk teeth actually has a huge impact on the permanent teeth. Both sets of teeth form whilst the baby is inside the womb so even though you only see the milk teeth emerge at first, those adult teeth are already sitting in the gums waiting for their turn. Well looked after gums and milk teeth will result in healthier adult teeth.
Which brings me on nicely to the subject of brushing. Brushing can start from the moment your baby is born. By gently wiping or brushing the gums you will be getting your baby used to the sensation and also removing any bacteria that could cause issues in their mouths. There are such simple ways of doing this too. You could just wrap a muslin around your finger and gently wipe, you could purchase dental wipes specifically designed for babies or use a finger brush from the age of 6 months like the one sold by Bickiepegs.
Other mistakes being made include allowing your baby to go to bed with a bottle in their mouth, dipping dummies in sweet products to encourage them to suck, not providing enough water as a drink throughout the day and giving too many sugary snacks. It can be so simple to correct these by reducing the sugary snacks, not allowing juice until your baby is 1 and never dipping the dummy in anything. Allowing a baby to go to bed with a bottle can result in them falling asleep with the teat still in their mouth. This will result in the milk resting on the teeth or gums and the longer the sugars sit there, the more damage they can cause. Once your child reaches an age where they can hold a drink for themselves, the Doidy cup is the healthiest oral option you can choose. With its slanted rim, it allows the child to get used to drinking from a cup, it also encourages good oral movements and reduces the risk of tooth decay.
It is also very important to be brushing their teeth twice a day. To help you with this I have created my own teeth brushing chart which you can download from this website. I have also previously written about overcoming teeth brushing issues in this blog post. Always seek professional advice from your dentist if you have any concerns regarding teething, brushing, oral problems and so on; they will be more than happy to see you in their surgery. I have taken my son from a very early age, just along to my own appointments. He sat on my lap quite happily and has always had his mouth checked at the same time. By introducing this process I will be reducing the risk of him becoming scared of going, I am getting him used to our dentist and the surroundings as well as the noises that can be heard in a practice. Making a trip to the dentist should be as normal as going on a trip to the supermarket.
I am so pleased to be able to tell you that the DCby1 campaign is now working hard to provide health visitors with the tools to be able to speak to parents about the importance of oral health and to be able to answer any questions they may have. Bickiepegs, themselves, have already reached out to over 3500 health visitors and are providing them with these 2 products to support DCby1.
The lack of information on teething and oral health is something I acknowledge in the first page of my book and I am over the moon that finally something is being done to highlight the importance of this from birth. I hope this leads to many more parents understanding each process and more feeling supported during that first year.
To make all of this even better I have 2 sets of the brush pack and Doidy cups to give away over on my Facebook page. So if you think your child would benefit from these amazing products, pop on over to enter!