Modern toothbrushes with nylon bristles arrived in the late s, and the first electric toothbrush was introduced in Scientists can tell a great deal about us just by examining our teeth. Did you realize that our teeth reveal how old we are, what we eat and drink -- even where on Earth we may have lived? In short, teeth are a lasting record of our personal history. Each tooth in your mouth has its own unique profile, and teeth also vary widely from person to person. It can also be found in many types of toothpaste, mouthwash and varnishes polish applied to the teeth by a dentist.
Fluoride helps prevent cavities and decay by coming in direct contact with the tooth enamel the outside of the tooth and promoting mineralization.
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If you consume fluoride from sources such as drinking water, it gets absorbed in your bloodstream. Then it becomes part of the enamel on the inside of the tooth. If too much fluoride gets into the inside of the tooth, it can cause a condition called fluorosis. Too much fluoride in the early years can damage teeth as they are forming, and can lead to a condition called fluorosis.
Fluorosis causes white spots or blotches on teeth. But white spots on teeth can also be a sign of early cavities. In more severe cases of fluorosis, these spots can stain or become dark. If your child is under 3 years of age and you think they may be at risk for early childhood tooth decay, talk to your dentist to find out if it is a good idea to start using a small amount the size of a grain of rice of fluoridated toothpaste.
If there is a reason to give your child fluoride supplements, your dentist or doctor will recommend them. If you use drops, dilute them with water and follow instructions on package.
Tell your child not to swallow the drops. Home Healthy Bodies Healthy teeth for children. Print Follow us on:. In this section:. Physical activity for children and youth Teens and sleep: Why you need it and how to get enough Your baby's skin Healthy home Antimicrobial products in the home E-cigarettes: A danger to children and youth Healthy pets, healthy people: How to avoid the diseases that pets can spread to people How to safely dispose of a mercury thermometer Inhalant abuse: What parents should know Smoking and your child or teen Immunization 5-in-1 or 6-in-1 vaccine Chickenpox vaccine Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis dTap vaccine HPV: What teens need to know Hepatitis A Hepatitis B vaccine Influenza vaccine MMR Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine Pneumococcal vaccine Rotavirus vaccine Vaccination and your child Vaccines: Common concerns Vaccines: Myths and facts When parents choose not to vaccinate: Risks and responsibilities.
Why are primary teeth important? As soon as the first teeth appear, clean them at least once a day usually at bedtime with a soft bristle toothbrush designed for babies. Lay your baby on a flat surface or with their head cradled in your lap to brush their teeth. Avoid leaving your baby in bed with a bottle.
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After 6 months: Introduce a sippy cup. Avoid juice as it is unnecessary. If a bottle is needed at nap time, offer water rather than milk or juice. Never sweeten a soother. Bacteria including those which cause tooth decay , viruses and yeast infections can be passed between you and your child this way. If you eat less sugary foods and drinks, you give the bacteria less food to grow and multiply. Less bacteria will make less of the acid that damages the tooth surface.
Ways to reduce your sugar intake: Follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines and eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day: vegetables, fruit, grains, lean meats or alternatives and dairy or alternatives. Limit sugary foods, especially sticky foods that stay on the teeth. Ask about medication — check if any of your medication has sugar in it and if there is a sugar-free alternative.
Also ask if your medication has an effect on saliva. Chewing sugar-free gum can also be helpful in the fight against decay. It can help to produce saliva, which is able to wash sugar out of the mouth into the stomach, neutralise acid, fight bacteria and repair the early stages of tooth decay. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay Fluoride helps to repair damage to the tooth surface.
Fluoridated drinking water and toothpastes have reduced the amount of tooth decay in Australia. Use a suitable fluoride toothpaste: Use only water to brush the teeth of children under 18 months old. Use low fluoride toothpaste for children 18 months up to six years of age. People six years and older can use standard fluoride toothpaste.
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Water also helps to wash away sugars from food and drink and dilute acid in the mouth. If you live in a community where the water is not fluoridated, talk to your oral health professional to make sure you are getting the right amount of fluoride to help prevent tooth decay. Your local water authorities can tell you if fluoride is added to your water supply.
You can also search by postcode on the Department of Health website. Dental check-ups help prevent decay It can be difficult to see the early signs of tooth decay. An oral health professional can help to spot and treat any problems early.
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Ask your oral health professional how often you should have a dental check-up. All children should have an oral health assessment by the time they turn two. This may be done by an oral health professional such as a dentist, or other health professional such as a maternal and child health nurse or your doctor. Other tips for a healthy mouth Quit smoking to improve oral health and general health. Smoking is one of the main risk factors for oral cancers. Limit your alcohol intake.
Alcohol is also a risk factor for oral cancers. Protect your face from the sun.
Wear a mouthguard when playing and training for sport if there is a risk of mouth injury. For some sports you will need a full-faced helmet or face guard. Where to get help Your maternal and child health nurse Community dental clinics: To find your local clinic Tel. Orthodontist Psychologist, to help with stress management Physiotherapist Things to remember Tooth decay is caused by acid damage from bacteria over time. Brushing twice a day is important for preventing tooth decay.
People over 18 months of age should use fluoride toothpaste. Avoiding sugary foods and drinks, and drinking plenty of tap water especially if fluoridated also helps to prevent decay. References Frequently asked questions [online], Australian Dental Association. More information here. Send us your feedback. Rate this website Your comments Questions Your details. Excellent Good Average Fair Poor. Next Submit Now Cancel. Please note that we cannot answer personal medical queries. Enter your comments below optional.
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Thank you. Your feedback has been successfully sent. Mouth and teeth. Mouth and teeth basics Mouth conditions Dental care for children Dental care Dental procedures Mouth and teeth basics Calcium If you don't have enough calcium in your diet, your bones will eventually become weak and brittle Mouth The mouth helps us to digest our food and communicate through speech Teeth Teeth have different shapes that reflect the different jobs they do in helping us eat and digest food Tongue There are about taste buds on the average adult tongue Mouth conditions Tooth decay Tooth decay is a diet-related disease, caused by the bacteria in your mouth converting sugar into energy and producing acid as a waste product Cleft palate and cleft lip Most cleft palates and cleft lips can be repaired so that appearance and speech develop normally Cold sores Cold sores are blisters around the mouth and nose, caused by the herpes simplex virus Dental injuries - knocked out teeth A knocked out permanent tooth can survive if it is immediately put back.
Dry mouth syndrome A dry mouth is a symptom of an underlying problem, rather than a disease in itself Gum disease Brushing teeth regularly helps to prevent gum disease and early treatment can help save affected teeth Halitosis or bad breath Having halitosis or bad breath can have a major impact on a person Mouth cancer Smoking increases the risk of mouth cancer six-fold Teeth - gapped teeth In many cases, a gap between the upper front teeth will close by itself Teeth grinding Teeth grinding bruxism is involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth, usually during sleep Tongue-tie Tongue-tie is a condition caused by restrictive tongue tissue that stops the tongue from poking out past the lips Dental care for children Dental care - fluoride Fluoride in your drinking water is like a constant 'repair kit' for your teeth Dental checks for young children Children should have an oral health check by the time they turn two Dummies Dummy sucking should stop before school age to avoid teeth or mouth problems Oral conditions - young children Oral thrush, mouth ulcers and cold sores are common oral conditions in babies and young children Recent arrivals, asylum seekers and family support services Provides an overview of family support programs and health services available to refugees and asylum seekers living in Victoria Seeing a dentist or dental health practitioner There are a range of dental services available to assist you with any dental health problems you or your family may have Teeth development in children Teething symptoms are common in children and can be managed without medications Thumb sucking Finger or thumb sucking should stop before school age to avoid mouth problems Toothbrushing - children Start cleaning your baby's teeth as soon as the first tooth comes through to help prevent tooth decay