Warwickshire County Council is using National Smile Month (13 May-13 June) to encourage parents to take their babies on a ‘little trip to the dentist’ as soon as they can smile.
At least a quarter of five year olds in Warwickshire experience tooth decay by the time they start school so it’s never too early to start good oral health habits and the council is encouraging parents to take their babies to the dentist as early as 6 months old.
Warwickshire’s Director of Public Health, Helen King, said:
“While some parents may wonder why their baby needs to attend the dentist when they may not even have their first teeth, it is important to set healthy habits from an early age and show children that the dentist is not something to be feared or avoided. Encouraging children to regularly attend the dentist helps to promote healthy teeth and gums and prevent issues as their teeth and gums develop.
“Even if the dentist doesn’t manage to look in a baby’s mouth, dentists can provide valuable advice and tips on how to maintain healthy gums, teeth and mouths throughout key stages in their development. They can also give tips on getting the best from tooth brushing, advise on sugar, healthy eating and drinking and also offer treatments to prevent decay.”
Alexandra, a local parent of two children – 6 months and 2.5 years takes both her children to the dentist, she said:
“When I take my children to the dentist, he is great with them both. He isn’t precious about his instruments and he bravely hands them over to let the two of them hold and explore them. My six month old promptly puts the mirror in his mouth and almost does the hard work for the dentist, all while my toddler tells him to “open wide little baby”.
“Since the birth of my first, I’ve been to the dentist for routine check-ups or with concerns six or seven times and have taken the little ones with me. My dentist encouraged this too and has been very supportive in accommodating tearaway toddlers and hungry babies alike.”
Babies and children are seen for free at NHS dentists, as well as pregnant women and new mums for a year after birth.
If you are not already signed up to a dentist, you can call NHS 111 or visit the NHS Choices website to find a local dentist at www.nhs.uk
Encouraging healthy habits with your children, such as regularly attending the dentist, is important to help give them the best start in life and set them up with positive habits that they can take with them into adulthood.