Healthy teeth and gums are vital to children’s general health. Baby teeth are very important to your child’s health and development.
Good healthy baby teeth will pave the way for good healthy adult teeth. And by helping children to take good care of their teeth, you are starting habits that will last them all their lives. Good dental care should start even before those first baby teeth arrive.
These baby milk teeth are very important for chewing, speaking and smiling. They also keep spaces for the adult teeth. They hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.
When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.
Your baby’s first tooth will most likely be a central bottom front one, appearing when he’s about six months old. However, the time a baby’s first tooth appears can vary hugely. Children get teeth at different times; some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
Your baby will eventually have 20 milk teeth, all of which should be through by the time he is about two-and-a-half to three years old.
The 32 adult teeth replace the baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 20 years. You can’t replace these teeth, so you have to look after them.
Decayed or lost baby teeth can interfere with good nutrition and speech development, and by not holding a proper place for permanent teeth, they can make the permanent ones come in crooked.
It’s important to take good care of them now and to establish the habits that will lead your child toward a lifetime of dental health.
Unfortunately, not every baby loves having her teeth cleaned and when baby is teething and her gums are sore and tender, she/he might be especially resistant.
As each baby tooth gets to the surface of the gum, the gum opens up to show the tooth.
Many people think that ‘teething’ babies:
- cry a lot or seem extra cranky
- don’t feed as well as usual
- suck on objects such as toys, dummies and bibs
- have more dirty nappies more often
- pull the ear on the same side as the tooth coming through.
These signs might be caused by teething – or they might just be a normal part of development or a result of minor infections and illnesses.
Babies sometimes rub their gums together when new teeth are starting to come through the gum. This isn’t usually a problem.
Things to try for teething
If baby’s gums seem sore when they are teething or baby seems cranky and dribbles a lot, there are some things that you can do to help-
- gently rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger. Make sure to wash your hands first
- giving your baby something to bite on, such as a cold (but not frozen) teething ring, toothbrush or dummy
- cooking mushier foods, which need less chewing
- giving your baby something firm, like a sugar-free rusk, to suck on.
When should I start taking my baby to the dentist?
A dental visit at an early age is a “well-baby checkup” for the teeth. Take your child to the dentist within six months after her first tooth erupts. Risk factors include a family history of cavities and poor dental health in the mother during pregnancy.
Besides checking for cavities and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean the child’s teeth properly and how to handle habits like thumb sucking etc.
Be sure to communicate what fluoride treatments your baby has already received at the doctor’s office.
Dentist in Delhi and Dentist in India can suggest a schedule for follow-up care for your infant.
Do I need to clean my baby’s gums before his teeth come in and when should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
It’s important to care for your baby’s teeth from the start. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of wiping your baby’s gums with gauze or a soft wet washcloth.
You can start cleaning and caring for your baby’s gums well before the first tooth appears. Wrap a clean, a clean, moist gauze pad or wash cloth around your index finger and gently wipe the gums and front & back of each of your baby’s teeth. Cleaning baby’s gums after feedings, helps fight bacterial growth and promotes good oral health, long before baby’s first teeth start to appear.
Use only water on the toothbrush until your baby is 18 months old. Don’t use toothpaste with babies under 18 months of age.
For children younger than 3 years, start brushing their teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using baby toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice.
Brush with small, gentle circular movements, concentrating on the area where the teeth and gums meet. Remember that during teething, your baby’s gums will feel tender, so be very gentle.
For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night).
Try to get into the habit of brushing your baby’s teeth thoroughly twice a day. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the appropriate amount of toothpaste and make sure your baby spit out the excess toothpaste. There’s no need to rinse his mouth with water as this will wash away the fluoride. Leaving a bit of toothpaste residue on the teeth makes the toothpaste work better.
Keep in mind that while a little fluoride is a good thing for your baby’s teeth, too much of it can lead to a condition called fluorosis, which causes white spots to show up on your child’s adult teeth. This is why it’s important to use only the tiniest amount of toothpaste until your child is old enough to rinse and spit it out.
The important thing is to get your baby used to brushing their teeth as part of their daily routine. Carry on helping your child brush their teeth until you’re sure they can do it well enough themselves. This will normally be until they’re at least seven.
You can help by setting a good example and letting them see you brushing your own teeth.
The best way to clean your baby’s teeth
The easiest way to brush a baby’s teeth is to sit them on your knee, with their head resting against your chest. With an older child, stand behind them and tilt their head backwards.
- Place your baby in a position where you can see his mouth, and he feels secure.
- Cup your baby’s chin in your hands, with his head resting against your body.
- Clean his teeth using soft, circular motions.
- Lift his lips to brush the front and back of the teeth and at the gum line.
Should I give my baby fluoride supplements?
If your child has too much fluoride when his teeth are developing it may damage his teeth, giving the enamel a mottled look.
If you live in an area where fluoride has been added to the water supply then your child is less likely to need supplements. However, it depends on the level of fluoride in the water.
How else can I protect my baby’s teeth?
The main cause of tooth decay is sugar. Sweet foods are a common culprit. Starches can also contribute to cavities.
It’s not just the amount of sugar in sweet food and drinks that can be harmful, but how often it’s eaten or drunk throughout the day and how often the teeth are in contact with sugar.
Every time your baby has something sugary, it starts to break down the mineral surface of his teeth. Your baby’s teeth can recover after eating something sugary, but it can take hours. If your baby has something sweet at regular intervals throughout the day, his teeth won’t have time to repair themselves.
Only offer your baby sugary food and drink at mealtimes than as snacks, so they’re more likely to get dislodged and won’t sit on the teeth too long and so that there will be several hours between the times he has something sweet. Serving them with water is also helpful. This includes dried fruits, which are high in sugar and stick to teeth, as well as fruit juices and fruit smoothies.
It is important infants and toddlers should not be put to bed with a feeding bottle or dinky feeder (sweet drinks). Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or sweetened liquid. The sugar and acids in these liquids feed bacteria in the mouth. This can be harmful once a baby’s teeth start appearing and can cause tooth decay. Try not to let the baby develop the habit of sleeping with a bottle at night or at nap time. Baby’s bottle should be used for feeding – not as a pacifier.
To really give your child the best chance of healthy teeth, you should also:
- Only offer breastmilk, formula milk, or cooled, boiled water as drinks for your baby. The best drinks for young children are their usual milk and water.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and fizzy drinks. These usually contain lots of sugar and cause tooth decay.
- Once he’s a year old, try to discourage him from using a bottle, and only give him milk or water to drink at night.
- Provide your baby with a healthy, balanced diet. Encourage him to enjoy savoury foods and drinks such as vegetables, and don’t add sugar to his food.
- If you use prepared baby foods, check that they are sugar-free or have no added sugars or sweeteners.
The dentists in dental clinics in Delhi like ‘Smile Delhi- The Dental Clinic’ can tell you about what will happen next in your child’s oral development and can help you to guard and promote your child’s oral health.
Posted By – Dr. Shriya