Baby’s first teeth aren’t always met with the same joy as first words or first steps. That’s because teething can be a painful process for infants and the appearance of teeth means more work for parents as they begin integrating dental hygiene into an already punishing new-parent schedule.
It may come as a surprise to learn that the best dental hygiene routines begin well before the first teeth begin to appear.
Particularly surprising is the number of parents who don’t know it’s possible to begin a brushing routine before teething even starts. Though it’s not brushing per se, gently cleaning your baby’s mouth with a clean wet washcloth has much the same effect. It is a sure way of keeping gums healthy while keeping your baby’s mouth clean and fresh. Cleaning in this way can also help reduce the discomfort of teething.
Doctors have long known that breastfeeding when possible is the best way of kick-starting fantastic physical health. Breastfeeding also has an important role to play in teeth development. Not only is its a great source of calcium – the stuff of which strong teeth are made – breastfeeding is also crucial in shaping the jaws and primary position of permanent teeth.
Where it’s not possible to breastfeed, parents will substitute a bottle. This too is crucial for good jaw development and poorly-designed, harder nipples can cause problems down the line. A softer nipple which flattens against your baby’s mouth promotes normal development of the jaw and permanent teeth – just like breastfeeding would.
It’s easy for dentists to discourage the use of pacifiers, but not always as easy for parents to heed the advice – especially when faced with tantrums, crying or ill-temper. Nevertheless, here goes! Prolonged use of pacifiers should be avoided. Believe it or not, continuous sucking can cause a high-arched palate and protruding teeth.
Parents who do choose to use pacifiers should limit their use as far as possible, choosing a soft design over a hard one and never coating pacifiers with sugary or sweet substances which could cause early decay.
First teeth usually appear at around 6-10 months of age. Teething can be uncomfortable, causing irritable sleepless nights for infant and parent alike.
Clean teething rings have been proven to alleviate discomfort, as do a clean, cold, wet cloth. Frequent cleaning of the gums can also help.
Early Tooth Decay
If not properly looked after, your baby’s teeth could begin to decay from the moment they emerge. This can happen when babies use a bottle for overly long periods, as well as through exposure to sugary drinks like fruit juice and even milk. That’s why dentists advise giving water at bedtimes, nap times and in between regular feeds.
Hints and Tips
As your little one grows, it’s important to maintain their oral health. Follow our handy guide:
1. Brush your child’s teeth twice daily – in the morning and before bedtime.
2. Using a child-size soft-bristled toothbrush with a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste. (Do not use fluoridated toothpaste for children under age three.)
4. Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and rinse with water.
5. Help to floss your child’s teeth daily especially at the back.