The best dental care for your new born by Dr Marc Sher

Top tips from Cape-based dentist and OTC Pharma consultant, Dr Marc Sher for optimum dental care for new born babies and toddlers.  All moms need to know!

  1. Breast feeding makes the baby strong! The action of sucking and swallowing is very important for your baby as it helps promote the growth of the jaw and face bones.
  2. “Milk teeth” or the primary dentition start erupting from the 6th-8th month after birth. By the time the child is 3 years old all the “milk” teeth should have erupted. A total of 20 teeth in the upper and lower jaw. Looking after the primary dentition is crucial for the preparation and reserving room for the permanent dentition.
  3. Not every baby has trouble with teething, and there should be no cause for concern if your little one feels the cutting process. Some symptoms of teething include; loss of sleep, little appetite, restlessness, temperature, diarrhoea and skin rash.
  4. Babies will put anything in their mouths to relieve the pressure pain caused by teething. The most suitable aids are teething rings made of silicone and cooling dental sticks. Keep them in the fridge (never freezer) so the cold effect helps relieve the pain even further.
  5. As soon as the first teeth appear they should be brushed. Using either a baby tooth brush or a cloth over your finger and a small amount baby toothpaste (never use adult toothpaste) brush the erupted teeth once a day (before bed) for the first 2 years. After which brushing should be done twice a day, morning and night.
  6. Only from a primary school age do kids develop the ability to brush independently. Up until that time assisted brushing is required to make sure they are cleaning their teeth correctly. Always encourage your child to brush on their own as the sooner they learn this the better.  The brushing stroke must be in circular movements for the sides of the teeth, and a gentle scrubbing for the tops of the teeth. Only a pee-sized amount of toothpaste is required!
  7. The tooth brush should have as smaller head as possible, with rounded soft bristles and thick firm grip.  Specially made kids toothpaste must be used as it has just the right amount of fluoride for your child. Try and get them to brush in front of a mirror as this helps develop good techniques.
  8. Children will always follow what grown-ups do and this is especially true when it comes to brushing. Being in a positive mood when you brush your teeth while letting your child watch you will raise curiosity and they will do the same. Making the brushing experience interactive and part of the daily routine is very important. Using colouring charts or nursery rhymes or creating games around brushing can all help in making the experience enjoyable for your little one.
  9. Dental floss is not important at this stage, however, an introduction to floss and setting the example by flossing your own teeth in front of your child is very important.
  10. Diet is all important at this early stage. Limiting the amount of sugar is essential, especially surgery drinks. The more natural the food, for example fruit and raw food, the more hard chewing has to be done and the more thoroughly the teeth will clean themselves. A well balanced diet is essential and should include lots of cereal and wholemeal products, fruit and vegetables (preferably raw or quickly blanched) yogurt, milk and cheese and little meat and fish on a regular basis with limited fats and oils and very little sweets.  If sweets are going to be given, it should be once a day and brushing the teeth straight away should be encouraged.
  11. Avoid giving your child a bottle for long periods, especially if the drink is sweetened with sugars. When children continuously drink from the bottle their teeth are always coated with this fluid and this prevents salvia from protecting the teeth and leads to rampant tooth decay.
  12. Giving fluoride at this young age is not essential (0-3). It is very difficult to determine the amount of fluoride that a young child ingests on a daily basis as many of them swallow their toothpaste. Overdosing on fluoride is very dangerous and can be harmful. Just by them brushing with a recommended children’s toothpaste is perfect. Once older, their dentist can decide on the necessity to provide additional fluoride in the way of a daily supplement or topical application.
  13. The first visit to the dentist can be as early as two and a half or three years and this is purely to familiarize you child with the dental environment. I encourage mothers to bring their little ones in as early as two and a half, just for 5/10 minutes to ‘play’ in the chair and get used to the sights and smells. A lot also depend on the attitudes parents display at home about the dentist. Giving the child negative feedback and being apprehensive about the dentist will only build up unnecessary fear. Building trust between your child and the dentist is crucial, so when the time comes for that first filling or any other treatment, there is already that element of trust and a traumatic experience can be avoided.

For more info, see: and call 011 516 1700.

Contact Dr Sher on 082 331 4881



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