Preventing tooth decay

Last week I came across a four year old boy at my ‘other job’ at the GP’s. He had the most awful early tooth decay. It made me sad because it’s so preventable. Are we as health professionals not getting the message across?

In England it was a huge part of the 8 month developmental assessment. As Health Visitors we even gave out little goodie bags with free hard-spout sippy cups, baby toothbrushes and baby toothpaste. Maybe we should do the same in Australia?

Lift the Lip

But whatever … we need to start the conversation. We start with ‘LIFT THE LIP’ – a weekly check on all your child’s teeth. Lift the top and bottom lips – you can’t do a proper check without doing that.

Early decay is identified by white deposits of plaque on the gumline.

Dental medicine and healthcare - human patient open mouth showing caries teeth decay

Dental medicine and healthcare – human patient open mouth showing caries teeth decay

Late decay is brown in colour, starting on the back teeth and top front, then it spreads.

Stop all bottles by 6-12 months

The use of  feeding bottles after 12 months vastly increases the risk of decay. Ideally a feeding beaker with a hard spout should be introduced by 6 months and all bottles should stop by 12 months.

Babies ‘comfort suck’ with a bottle, increasing the sugar contact on the teeth. Cup feeders have a shortened exposure, lifting the cup up and down, and out of the mouth in between sips.

  • The only ‘safe’ liquid is water. Breast milk, infant formula and cow’s milk all contain sugar. Juice and Coca-cola are a no-no.
  • Watch out for hidden sugars in ‘healthy’ foods such as muesli bars and packets of sultanas and raisins. 4g of sugar is equal to one sugar cube of added sugar.
  • Try and encourage raw fruit and veggies rather than sugary foods.
  • Don’t ‘clean’ dummies in your own mouth or share toothbrushes – you are sharing your own mouth germs and tooth decay.
  • Putting honey or jam on dummies is another tooth rotting no-no.
  • Even breast feeding at night can lead to tooth decay. Babies don’t produce saliva at night-time, so there is less protection on the teeth.

Mother bottle feeding babyNight-time feeds

After 6 months, aim to stop night time feeding. This should be in place by 8 months. It’s all about the teeth.

First teeth appear by around 8 months and should have erupted by 12 months. If they are later than this you will need to consult your dentist.

If the milk teeth have decayed, then the second teeth will most likely be affected. It is a myth that it doesn’t matter.

As soon as teeth appear, we need to clean them twice a day with a baby toothbrush. Young babies teeth can be cleaned with a damp muslin cloth.


Low-fluoride toothpaste can be used from 18 months. A pea sized amount on the morning and night toothbrush.

It’s important to make your baby, friends with your dentist as soon as teeth appear. Have their teeth checked every 6 months so it becomes ‘normal’.

Macro shot of first step of toothbrush for babyI’d like to think that by reading this article and following these simple steps we can stop the rot.

The 4 year old boy I mentioned at the beginning of this article was using a feeding bottle with a teat and his bottle had milk in it. He’d even brought his bottle along for the 4 year old check.

The tantrum that may result from removing the bottle and giving it to the bottle fairy is a lot less painful than the resulting tooth abscesses from tooth decay.

The image that forever stays in my head is of two children in Melbourne aged 3 and 4 years. They had milk in their feeding bottles. Their tooth decay had gone as far as their gums. They had no front teeth left at all. Those teeth would not be replaced by the second teeth till 6 years. They endured months of very painful dental treatment and it it all preventable.

What do you do when your child refuses to brush their teeth?

How to get a toddler to brush their teeth instead of chewing their toothbrush?

What do you do when your child refuses to brush their teeth?

A mum told me her toddler had decided he no longer wanted to brush his teeth when he was fine before. He'd just close his mouth when she tried to brush his teeth. Here are some tips I shared with her.Reference: Tooth Brushing Song by Blippi

Posted by Nurture Parenting on Wednesday, November 13, 2019

How do I get my toddler to brush their teeth when they’re not into it?

How to I get my toddler to brush their teeth when they're not into it?

A mum told me her toddler had decided he no longer wanted to brush his teeth when he was fine before. He'd just close his mouth when she tried to brush his teeth. Here are some tips I shared with her.I know how frustrating for parents that at the end of the day. You're tired. It's bath time and your child is refusing to let you into their mouth. It ends up in a real messy situation. So toddlers and tooth brushing.Toddlers want to be in control. Parents too often try and take control. So then you've got this situation where you're in this stalemate.So we've got to look at how we work around the problem.It's about getting them to do things for themselves. Helping them to learn how to do things and that's really important. The more that we do to children the more that we force them, the worse a situation we get into.We need to look at helping them achieve some control over this toothbrush.So when it comes to bedtime and bath time, we give them the toothbrush in the bath or in the shower, so they can brush their own teeth.I talk a lot about modeling behaviour when I work with families.Modeling behavior is where you show them what to do. So youcould give them that toothbrush and you could brush your teeth atthe same time.Then use labeled praise for any good toothbrushing that you see.You say, "Well done Madeleine. Great toothbrushing. You're doin a great job with those teeth. Brush brush brush brush brush."And you can show them how to do it. Then you can get them to brush your teeth for you. Then say them, "So can Mummy help a bit with your teeth now?"So it's working your way around the problem. This might take a week before you get compliance, before your childallows you to brush their teeth.So if you find you're getting a no then just keep on trying each day and listen to what they're saying to you.Because obviously at the age of two or three, they can't do an amazing job with their teeth, I want you to try and help them as well.So you work on it step by step by step.This is based in behavioral psychology.When we end up capitulating, giving in and saying, "You brush mummy's teeth. You brush your own teeth," and letting them do that for a few nights, then they feel like they've got some control.Too often when we end up capitulating, when we end up giving in and saying, "You brush mummy's teeth, you brush your own teeth," and letting them do that for a few nights then they feel like they've got some control.Then you can say, "You brush my teeth. I brush your teeth."There's also a very nice video on YouTube. It's the only time I like smartphones and iPads to be used at bedtime, is with the tooth brushing song.It's called the "Tooth Brushing Song" by Blippi and it lasts for exactly 2 minutes. It teaches them how to brush their teeth.🎦 You can watch it at: you know what? It gets compliance because it's not you brushing their teeth.You can still brush them for a little bit but it takes the tension away andthe tension out of the room.Too often I hear parents say, “But my child won’t eat their food”. When moving from the baby to toddler stage, we sometimes forget to move our baby on with their food and milk intake.The main culprit is often not the fussy child but the amount of milk and juice they are consuming……"Tooth Brushing Song" by Blippi🎦 You can watch it at: Health in children – Stop the rot➡️ praise vs. labelled praise and effects on resilience in kids➡️…..🦷 Need more support?You might be one of the many parents who are struggling with a fussy eater or just anxious about getting the nutrition balance right for sleep.The effects of diet on toddler sleep is not to be underestimated. To help toddler sleep problems it’s important to look holistically at sleep using scientific evidence.Did you know that you can access my "Nurture & Nourish" E-Book as part of my online Toddler Program?I give you the guide to managing …👉 Fussy Eaters👉 Milk Intake👉 Daily serving sizes of foodYou'll get over 60 nutritious recipes to promote your toddler’s sleep – available to those who join.And if you're one of people who bought the online sleep program, you're going to get my toddler potty training ebook for no charge as part of the program.You'll also get direct access to my 3 decades of experience as a registered midwife and child and family health nurse via the Nurture Sleep Program too.You will take your baby or toddler from sleepless to slumber when you join.➡️🍌 FOODS that promote baby and toddler sleep⏰ ROUTINE: easy, flexible, sleep-ready💡 ENVIRONMENT: getting it right👶🏽 DEVELOPMENT: changes, how these affect sleep😴 SLEEP METHODS: secret tips that will change your lifeIt will stop the guesswork and give you:✅ A tried and tested approach (20 years of helping families with baby & toddler sleep)✅ Evidence-based✅ Gentle baby and toddler sleep methods✅ Holistic assessment✅ Nurture & Nourish nutrition program – all recipes have sleep-inducing ingredients and a perfect balance for a good nights sleep✅ Access to a closed Facebook group for one on one support from Karen and 90+ timecoded Facebook Live videos✅ Prevention for under 4 months so no need to do sleep training ever✅ And all at a low $97 for a very limited timeWant to know what's involved in my sleep training methods? 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Posted by Nurture Parenting on Saturday, February 15, 2020

Nurture Parenting - The Nurture Sleep Program