Baby Teeth Tips New Parents Need to Know About
First step. First word. First tooth.
You just can’t wait for bub to achieve these developmental milestones.
But apart from being markers in your baby’s development, these herald greater responsibilities for parents.
The eruption of a child’s first set of teeth, in particular, serves as an opportunity for parents and their children’s dentist to build a solid dental health foundation.
Your baby’s first set of teeth
Contrary to what some people may believe, babies are born with 20 primary teeth. His first teeth should erupt anywhere between his sixth month and his first year.
By the time a baby reaches three years of age, he should have a complete set of baby teeth.
Typically, the first teeth to erupt are those in the front upper and lower parts of the mouth.
Not just placeholders
Why are baby teeth important?
Baby teeth are not just placeholders for where the permanent teeth will eventually grow out. Your baby’s first set of teeth are important for a few crucial reasons.
Baby teeth contribute to the development of your child’s ability to eat, speak, and smile.
Now, when your child loses his baby teeth prematurely, this can create various oral health problems when he reaches adulthood. These include crooked and crowded teeth.
Simply put, if you want your child to retain his teeth for as long as he possibly can and avoid the use of dentures and other tooth replacement options, start caring for his teeth and gums ASAP.
Giving your child a good head start
Caring for your child’s primary teeth should begin as early as possible.
But when and how, exactly?
The best place to start is to schedule a visit to your child’s dentist at the age of 3 – 4. This initial visit serves a few important purposes.
- For one, the dentist can gain insight on the oral health of your baby. If your dentists see any problem, these can be remedied early on to prevent the development of other problems as your child ages.
- This visit is also a great time for dentists to teach parents how to take care of their children’s primary teeth.
- Finally, this visit presents a good opportunity for your baby to become more familiar and comfortable with the environment of a dental clinic.
Apart from scheduling your baby’s initial visit to the dentist, here are other tips that will help you take care of his oral health.
1. Start with his gums
Caring for your child’s oral health begins even before his first tooth erupts.
Equally as important as taking care of bub’s primary teeth is caring for his gums. But how exactly do you do that?
If your baby’s first tooth has not yet erupted, you cannot use a toothbrush and toothpaste for baby. Instead, you will need to use either a piece of gauze or washcloth to clean baby’s gums after each feeding and before going to sleep at night.
Doing this prevents bacteria from developing into harmful plaque.
2. Help your child deal with teething
In general, it takes about two years for a baby to undergo teething. This period can be difficult for both child and parents. For babies, in particular, teething can be uncomfortable, painful even.
In order to reduce your baby’s discomfort during this period, there are a few things that you can do.
For example, give him something cold to chew on. It can be as simple as clean piece of cloth or a teething ring. If you intend to give him a teething ring, make sure that it is large enough to prevent him from swallowing it. Also, do not buy teething rings with liquids inside them.
Consult your paediatrician or dentist about using topical pain relievers. Some pain relievers may not be compatible with young children.
3. Brush his teeth
Once baby’s first tooth erupts, you can now begin to brush it.
For this task, you will need a toothbrush specially made for babies. Such a toothbrush will have a large handle with a small head and soft bristles.
Initially, you do not need to use toothpaste. But as more of the tooth erupts, you can begin using a small amount of toothpaste, roughly the size of a small grain of rice.
Continue using this amount of toothpaste until your child reaches the age of three, when you should increase the amount of toothpaste to roughly the size of a small pea.
Parents should supervise their children while brushing their teeth until the age of six when they can be given more independence.
While your child is brushing his teeth, make sure to check for signs of dental problems and alert your dentist about these on your next scheduled visit.
4. Keep cavities at bay
Cavities are a perennial problem for both kids and adults. And as such, you should take a proactive approach early in your child’s life to prevent problems later on.
In particular, parents should be cautious in giving their children sweetened drinks, including juices and milk.
Your baby’s feeding bottle should only be filled with water, breast milk, or formula.
As much as possible, avoid giving him juices or sodas. The sugar in these drinks can lead to tooth decay.
If baby cannot sleep without his feeding bottle, fill it with plain water.
Start him early
Although baby’s primary teeth will be with him for just a few years, it is crucial for you to take care of those as early as possible. After all, the future of your child’s oral health depends on the care you administer at this stage.
Want to learn more about how to take care of your bub’s teeth and gums? Call us today and schedule a consultation with our trusted dentists.