A chemical present in some toothpastes and soaps has been linked with brain damage to babies in the womb. Scientists fear that pregnant women who are exposed to particularly high levels of the chemical triclosan, may be putting their babies at risk.
The findings suggest triclosan could disrupt blood flow to the uterus thus starving a baby’s brain of the oxygen it needs to develop properly. Urgent investigations into the dangers to unborn babies have been called for. Triclosan is a powerful anti-bacterial chemical that was developed nearly 50 years ago. It is often used in toothpastes, deodorants and liquid soaps as well as washing-up liquid and anti-bacterial chopping boards.
Latest studies on sheep showed it interferes with an enzyme that allows the hormone oestrogen to circulate in the womb which helps keep open the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood to the foetus. If there is too little, this artery narrows and oxygen supplies are depleted. In the UK, the chemical’s use is covered by the EU Cosmetics Directive, which says it is safe to use to the maximum content of 0.3 per cent. GlaxoSmithKline has phased out triclosan in its Aquafresh and Sensodyne toothpaste. It is still used in Colgate Total.
Despite assurances, it has been suggested that pregnant women avoid triclosan... just to be sure.
Babies teeth begin to emerge from around 6 months, and from this point on, their teeth require a lifetime of good care. Tooth decay is caused by long term exposure of teeth to sugars and acid from food so brushing teeth after each meal and especially before bedtime becomes very important. If you brush at this point, you will remove the sugars that remain after a feed or a meal. Sugars are found naturally in most foods that we eat, including formula and breast milk.
You should start taking your children to the dentist from the age of two - make this a positive experience for your children by explaining that the dentist will look after your child's teeth and tell them how important good oral care is so that they make the dentist really proud. Sing a song while you brush your children's teeth, this will make it fun, but more importantly will help them to brush for the required 2 - 3 minutes. Tooth brushing timers are also available to help brush for the right duration.
Toddlers should use a small headed toothbrush with soft nylon bristles; children's toothbrushes will state an age suitability so make sure you have the right toothbrushes for your children. Up to the age of 3, children should use a toothpaste with 1000ppm fluoride; after that their toothpaste should contain 1350 - 1500ppm of fluoride. All toothpastes state their fluoride content so again, make sure you are using a suitable toothpaste. Discourage your child from swallowing the toothpaste during brushing because fluoride is toxic.
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