The first molars, which usually come through at 12–15 months, and the second molars, which appear towards the end of the second year, are big teeth. Your toddler will get twenty of their primary (baby) teeth by the time they are about three years old, usually at the rate of three to four new teeth every four months. Teething often causes the child to dribble and like to chew on hard objects. This can cause mild pain and irritability and gums may be swollen and tender. You can gently massage the gums and/or give them something smooth and hard to chew on. Teething does not cause fever, diarrhoea or nappy rash.
Children’s paracetamol may also ease any inflammation. Read the dosage instructions carefully.Ideally you should calculate the dose of paracetamol for your child based on their weight.
Never exceed the maximum dose. Never give aspirin to a child under 16 years old.
Taking care of your toddler’s teeth is important. Set a good example by letting them see you clean your teeth every day. Clean their teeth twice a day using a soft brush and just a smear of baby toothpaste. Baby’s toothpastes are specially formulated with lower levels of fluoride than adult’s. However, ideally these toothpastes should still contain no less than and no more than 1,000 parts per million of fluoride so always check the packaging. Your dentist may recommend fluoride supplements or using adult toothpaste in areas where the fluoride content in the tap water is low.
Try to use a circular ‘scrub’ technique when brushing, ideally around each tooth – easier said than done with a wriggly toddler but it gives you something to aim for!
Show you care about your teeth and your toddler will copy you . Make a game of it. Let them brush your teeth. Take turns and remember, generally, children under the age of eight years old need help brushing their teeth.
Sticky sweets and drinks play a large part in tooth decay, so encourage your toddler to have drinks from a cup, not a bottle, and always dilute fruit juices well (one part fruit juice to ten parts water) until one year old. Then gradually dilute less as your child grows. Take your toddler with you when you go for your dental check-ups. They will get used to the sights and smells of a dental surgery before they ever have to sit in the chair and open their own mouth!
As soon as your child turns one year old enroll them at the local school dental clinic and organise a visit to the school dental therapist. This is a free service that can provide you and your child with care and advice.