Oral Health for Baby, Toddler & Adult

Oral Health for Baby, Toddler & Adult

What are the basic elements of good oral hygiene for babies, toddlers and adults?

The basic elements for ALL age groups are the same:

  1. Maintain a dental healthy diet
  2. Regular removal of damaging bacteria from any and all tooth surfaces
  3. Regular review visits with your oral health professional

These 3 points can be adjusted for the specifics needs of any age group. The inclusion of preventative products (e.g. Fluoride) can also be considered to increase the chances of good oral health outcomes.

At what point does damage to teeth become irreversible?

Once the acidic by-products of disease producing bacteria cause break down or ‘cavitation’ of the tooth surface, the lesion is considered irreversible. Prior to this stage, early disease lesions can be treated and fillings avoided.

When does damage to teeth usually occur? Does decay which starts early on cause more severe problems in children?

Once teeth have erupted, damage caused by bacterial disease can occur at any time. The earlier this disease process occurs in the mouth, the higher the risk of it:

    • Continuing
    • Reoccurring
    • Spreading from the baby teeth to the adult teeth

Very often, the disease of the teeth known as dental decay, or ‘caries’, can go undiagnosed in very young children. Little ones tend to ‘go off their food’ rather than complain about a toothache. In some cases the disease can become very severe, causing abscesses and other dangerous conditions that can affect general health. Extensive dental disease can result in the early loss of important foundation teeth; require general anesthetic to treat and / or hospitalisation.

Remember – to ensure problems aren’t developing, start visits to your oral health professional as soon as teeth start to appear.

Can you dispel the myth that milk teeth aren’t so important because they eventually fall out?

If we didn’t need them we wouldn’t have them – that’s the simplest way to think about it.

Milk teeth, baby teeth or deciduous teeth are still teeth. They perform all the duties of adult or permanent teeth – they are just smaller, lighter coloured, more delicate version – just like babies are smaller, lighter coloured, more delicate version of grown ups.

Babies, toddlers and small children have small jaws and softer bone that can only fit and support smaller teeth. These first teeth are vital in helping:

    • Eat a developing, mixed and healthy diet
    • Learn to chew and form words
    • Support the muscles and bones of the developing face and head
    • Map out the development of the jaws as they grow
    • Stake out the foundations for the permanent tooth to ensure it erupts in the right place, at the right time, when space and growth permit.

Can you talk about the importance of instilling a love of healthy food in children, minimising consumption of treats in kids and also adults?

Having a healthy diet is important to ensure an active and healthy life, in all age groups. Disease and poor health occur when we eat and drink too much of the bad things.

The same concept is true for teeth – we are just focusing on one vital part of our bodies.

Foods and drinks that are acidic and/or contain sugar are specifically the types that assist bacteria to cause disease in our teeth. The more times we put these foods or drinks in our mouths in one day, the more times we give the bad bacteria a chance to harm our teeth.

Cutting out or cutting down on foods and drinks that are acidic and/or contain sugar is the best way to prevent bad bacteria from harming our teeth.

And remember, having healthy teeth help to ensure we can continue to eat a healthy diet that will keep the rest of our bodies healthy!!

How is good oral health linked to general health?

Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body.

Keeping your teeth and mouth healthy can help to reduce or prevent other diseases from occurring, as well as help manage conditions that may already be affecting your general health.

Regular visits to your oral health professional will ensure any health issues are identified early. If you have oral health concerns that are affecting your general health, this can be identified early.

Your oral health professional will also inform you if your general health issues are putting your oral health at risk.

Remember – your mouth is connected to your body!!


As featured in Coles Baby & Toddler – Aug/Sept issue.

Jo Purssey
Jo Purssey

Founding Member Oral Health Advisory Panel (OHAP) and Oral Health Therapist

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