Blog Posts by Dr. Alison Robinson

Principal Dentist - Geelong Children's Dental Centre

How often should we go to the dentist for a “check up and clean”?

How often should we go to the dentist for a “check up and clean”?

How often should we go to the dentist for a “check up and clean”?

The most common recommendation for dental check ups is every 6 months. It is important to realise though, this number was not devised by a dentist ….. it was by a dental health insurance company!

But yes, for a lot of people 6 months works.

However, there are many people who require more frequent visits and even a few who could attend less.

Children absolutely need at least every 6 months. Things can change so quickly in a child mouth that sometimes more regularly is beneficial. A teenager with braces on, often needs to see us every 3 months for cleaning and a checks. A child with poorly formed teeth is more at risk of decay and may need to be seen more regularly. Personally, my 3 children who all have great teeth are seen at least every 3 months as well as mum checks at home.

Adults who are susceptible to gum issues either by genetics or health status, need to be seen usually 3 monthly. The bacteria that cause gum disease live in the mouth and their environment needs to be disturbed every 10-12 weeks to prevent further damage.

People who cannot clean their teeth themselves are at a huge risk of gum problems and tooth decay. Special needs groups and the elderly often need more regular dental check ups and cleaning. The advent of electric toothbrushes and flossing devices has improved this but it needs to be monitored.

Then every now and then, we meet a patient who hasn’t been to the dentist for a number of years, x-rays reveal no decay, they have no fillings, gums are perfectly healthy and there is build up on the teeth. This is very rare.

Everyone else, 6 months usually suffices.

So with health funds now starting to recommend once a year dental check ups to save their revenue……we have a problem!

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Tips for raising Kids with Great Teeth

Tips for raising Kids with Great Teeth

Tips for raising kids with great teeth

  1. Cleaning the mouth of an infant

    Begin cleaning your baby's mouth as soon as possible. Although most babies don't have any teeth until about six months of age, a daily cleaning in infancy will get your child accustomed to the process, and ensure clean and healthy gums when the teeth do come in. A clean face washer or clean gauze can be all that is needed for the first 6-8 months.
  2. Introducing a toothbrush

    From 6 months of age teeth will start to erupt, usually the lower front teeth are first. Now is the time to start introducing a toothbrush. Make sure it is soft bristled and made for their age group. We use the Colgate “Stages” range. You may find the clean face washer is more efficient at this age but still introduce the toothbrush as your child is more likely to accept it later. Incorporate a toothbrush and children’s fluoride toothpaste into the routine by the time your child reaches 18 months, or at the time her first molars come in.
  3. Flossing

    Even children with a good diet and brushing twice a day can get cavities. One common spot is between the 1 year old and 2 year old molars. I have found if parents are flossing these 4 spots every night this is happening far less.
  4. First dental visit

    Your child's first dental visit should be by the age of three. Although baby teeth will eventually fall out, they are very important to your child's dental development. That is because the muscles of their mouth and jaw form around the foundation laid by their first set of teeth. The dentist can make sure your child's dental development is proceeding normally as early as 18 months. We recommend 6 monthly assessments. The reason for this is we do not routinely take xrays on children so cavities can seem to appear quite quickly. With new teeth erupting and old ones being lost things are changing rapidly.
  5. Stop your child's dummy and thumb sucking habits

    Sucking on a thumb or dummy is a natural and satisfying behavior for babies. However, the habit can alter the position of baby's developing teeth and the dental arches if it continues after their permanent teeth begin to erupt. It also affects tongue position and swallowing technique, which further impact on the position of teeth. If you are having trouble getting your child to stop sucking his thumb, we can offer advice. In terms of a dummy, don’t dip it in anything to make it taste nicer. If they don’t want it leave it out. Life later will be a lot simpler. I suggest getting rid of it between ages 1 to 2.
  6. Fluoride

    Make sure your child receives the benefits of the latest in cavity prevention, including fluorides and sealants. It is important that children use fluoride toothpaste. There is a risk of fluorosis with children swallowing rather than spitting. Our recommendation is to use a children’s toothpaste such as “My First Colgate”, place a pea size amount on the toothbrush pushed down into the bristles. Encourage spitting after brushing but rinsing is not recommended.
  7. Our motto is “Spit don’t rinse.”
  8. Fissure Sealants

    Have a dental professional apply a sealant to protect the biting surfaces of the molars. These are generally applied when the six-year molars erupt but can be required on the 2-year-old molars as well. Sealants are nearly 100 percent effective in preventing cavities on the biting surfaces of molars, the most cavity-prone area of the mouth. They are approximately one-half the cost of a filling.
  9. Breast feeding and Bottles

    For normal dental arch development, breast is best. Babies should not be fed constantly while asleep. Babies who need a feed in the night should be got out of bed, fed, and then placed back in their own bed. Babies who sleep with their mother and are constantly feeding often end up with significant dental decay. Do not put the baby to bed with a bottle. The baby will use the bottle as a dummy and milk will slowly drip into their mouth. Milk is a weak sugar and can cause devastating decay.
  10. Assist with brushing

    You need to help a child under age 8 years old to brush their teeth. Studies show that children under 8 year olds do not have the dexterity to do a good job. I know that there are children who will fight you on brushing. There is no easy answer on how to achieve this but we are happy to offer suggestions and to motivate the children.
  11. Low sugar diet

    Diet is a big consideration also. Drinks to be offered need to be limited to milk and water. Juices, cordials, sport drinks and soft drinks are to be thought of as special treats. Sugar needs to be limited, as children obtain sufficient sugar from fruits. There is no need to offer sugary snacks and children should not have access to lollies and sweet biscuits. These things need to be kept away and only offered for special treats. The best way to eat these types of food from a tooth perspective is all at once and then brush the teeth. Children who snack all day on sweet foods are at significant risk of tooth decay.
  12. Be a good role model

    Finally, the most important thing to realise is that children learn the behavior that they observe. The reality is, your dental health is just as important as your child's. Studies show that the decay causing bacteria in your mouth can be transferred to your children. When was the last time you had your dental check up and cleaning?

We hope this report has helped you and more importantly your children. Their lives are much less complicated as adults if they don’t have the large fillings that often your generation has experienced.

To go in the draw to win a Sonicare For Kids Rechargeable electric toothbrush please share our Facebook post and add 'Sonicare For Kids' in the comment section (Entries close 5pm - 17/12/2014).

To find out where you can purchase this device and many others at up to 20% off the normal retail price, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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A Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

A Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

A Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

If you have kids, you know that introducing them to new things can be fun, challenging, exciting, frustrating, and so much more all at the same time!

Parents who bring their children in to see us can’t believe how different seeing the dentist is now. Kids find it fun and look forward to their next appointment.

Today, in our society, there are a couple of benefits our children have, that we didn’t have when we were younger. People are becoming more aware of the need for good personal hygiene; parents are becoming more aware that they need to bring their kids to the dentist.

We have the tools now to prevent so many of the problems that many parents experienced as children. Most children with the opportunity to have preventive dentistry grow up to be cavity free with and with no anxiety issues about the dentist.

I made this simple special report to give you a couple of quick, helpful tips that you can use to help your child grow up with healthy teeth, and prevent as many dental problems as possible.

When is the earliest a parent should start bringing their child to the dentist?

Most dental books say when your child begins to have teeth, but in practice this doesn’t work out so well. Parents these days are looking in their children’s mouths and keeping a good eye on things. Unless there is a concern it seems to work best to have our first meeting when the child is about 2½ to 3. At this first meeting we treat it more as a social visit. They sit in the dental chair and have a ride up and down. We lean them back. If they let me look in their mouth and count their teeth, we will. If they let me polish their teeth we will.

Most kids enjoy the experience. We use our judgment as to how much or how little to do. Sometimes we have a parent in the chair with the child on their lap. Other times we have all the siblings in the chair at the same time. Sometimes it is more of a play with the chair. We do as much as we can always within the comfort zone of the child.

Problems arise when the child has not been in from a young age and they are not familiar with the surroundings. They then have pain and come in because they need work. The experience starts negatively and it is then hard to make it fun.

Our philosophy is to teach the children to enjoy being at the dentist, so if they need something done, they know us, they have been in the chair before and they feel comfortable. If the child feels comfortable and can trust us we can talk them through anything. For example when we give local anaesthetic we never tell the child it is needle, we tell them to close their eyes, take them on an imaginary journey and it is just a little mossie bite. Happy gas helps us a lot with children. Kids have sworn to their parents they didn’t have a needle it was just a bite!

Geelong Children's Dental Centre

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