Teeth and Eyesight Health
Babies and Teething
Most babies get their first milk tooth at around six months, usually in the front and at the bottom. But all babies are different.
Some are born with a tooth already, and others have no teeth when they’re a year old. Most will have all their milk (or primary) teeth by about two and a half. There are 20 primary teeth: 10 in the top row and 10 at the bottom. The first permanent ‘second’ teeth grow at the back at around the age of six.
Some teeth grow with no pain or discomfort at all. At other times you may notice that the gum is sore and red where the tooth is coming through, or that one cheek is flushed. Your baby may dribble, gnaw and chew a lot, or just be fretful.
The most important thing you can do to help your child's teeth is to give them a healthy diet. Sugar decays teeth, and it's not just the amount of sugar but the frequency that it is in contact with the teeth that's important.
It can help to give your baby something hard to chew on, such as a teething ring, a crust of bread or breadstick, or a peeled carrot. (Stay nearby in case of choking.) For babies over four months old, you can rub sugar-free teething gel on their gums or give them some sugar-free baby paracetamol or ibuprofen. You can get this from your local pharmacy. For younger babies, talk to your GP or health visitor.
Start brushing your baby's teeth from an early age to make it a habit from the start. Use fluoridated toothpaste for stronger teeth. Visit your dentist regularly (every six months) and get your child used to going with you. Age 12-16 is an important time to have checks, not only for the health of the teeth, but also their position when orthodontic treatment (braces etc) may be required.
Wisdom teeth usually start to erupt between the ages of 18-25 and may need attention.
Gum Disease: There are more teeth lost through gum disease than decay, which is why careful brushing, descaling and regular checks with your dentist every six months are important. For the elderly with dentures it is important to continue to see the dentist, who will look for disease of the gums and soft tissues in the mouth, as ulcers and tumours can grow painlessly without being noticed.
Cost of Treatment
You should not be deterred from regular checks because of cost. An inspection by your dentist is inexpensive and likely to prevent more costly restorative work at a later date through neglect.
The following groups do not pay at all: children under 18, under 19 and in full-time education, during pregnancy and in the year after delivery. Also certain categories of low-income - ask your dentist for details. No-one pays for treatment to stop bleeding or repairs to dentures.
To find a dentist near you contact PALS on 0800 587 7027 or visit their website at www.pals.nhs.uk.
You don't appreciate the importance of your sight until you start to lose it.
Everyone should have regular checks with their opticians but there are certain groups of patients particularly at risk:
- Children with a family history of squint or 'lazy eye'
- Patients with diabetes or high blood pressure
- Patients with a family history of glaucoma
- Diabetic screening
Your optician has the skill, equipment and expertise to test your eyesight more readily than your doctor. Make use of him/her and do not be put off by examination charges. Your sight is worth much more. You will be exempt from these fees anyway if you are in one of the following categories:
- Under 16
- Under 19 and in full-time education
- Receiving Income Support
- Receiving, or the partner of someone receiving Family Credit
- Registered blind or partially sighted
- Suffering from glaucoma, or have a family history of glaucoma (parent, sibling or child of a sufferer), and you are 40 or over
One often frightening experience is the sudden appearance of blood over the white of the eye. This is called subconjunctival haemorrhage, and is caused by a broken vessel. It is no danger to your sight, but it is worth getting a non-urgent appointment for the doctor to check your blood pressure. The blood itself will naturally absorb like a bruise.
Even very young children can have a sight test. They do not need to be able to read or recognise letters to be adequately tested.