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Baby Teeth Tips

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Many parents are may be unaware that their babies teeth begin to develop before they are born, therefore dental care should start even before a babies first tooth has arrived. Introducing good dental hygiene habits at an early age can ensure that they develop healthy baby teeth and maintain a happy and healthy smile throughout their life. In most cases a child’s milk teeth will begin to come through between the ages of 6 to 12 months and most children have a full set of 20 milk teeth by the time they’re three years old. Around the age of 5 or 6 their milk teeth will begin to fall out to make way for their adult teeth. Some children can be born with one or more teeth but this is very rare.

Dental Hygiene

Tooth decay is the number one chronic disease affecting children, potentially being even more common than asthma. Untreated cavities, that occur as a result of tooth decay, are one of the biggest reasons children receive hospital surgery and miss school.  Parents should be on the look out for signs of cavities in their babies teeth, discoloration and minor pitting being the main two.

Tooth decay can be caused by bacteria passed from you to your baby through saliva by sharing spoons, testing foods before feeding them to your baby, and cleaning off a pacifier in your mouth instead of with water. These germs can start the process that causes cavities even before your baby’s primary teeth emerge, so it’s important to avoid sharing saliva with your baby from the start.

There are ways that these kind of issues can be avoided, mainly through good dental hygiene habits being implemented. Some top tips, whether your child’s teeth have begun to come through or not, include:

  • Wiping your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth, after each feeding, can help to keep their gums healthy and reduce the chances of tooth decay.
  • Your child should visit the dentist by their first birthday to get important information and make sure that their baby teeth are coming in healthy.
  • As soon as your baby’s first tooth appears you should begin brushing their teeth, using a small amount of non-fluoride toothpaste, until your child is old enough not to swallow toothpaste when fluoride toothpaste can be introduced, and a soft toothbrush (many supermarkets sell toothbrushes specifically for children).
  • Brush their teeth twice daily, especially at night before they go to bed to ensure that they are protected through the night.
  • If you put your baby to bed with a bottle, ensure that it only contains water to stop teeth being damaged during the night. If your baby falls asleep whilst feeding, the last mouthful of milk (breast & bottle) is not swallowed. This milk will often pool around their teeth and cause decay, so making sure that you clean their teeth/gums before putting them to bed is important. The upper front teeth and molars are the ones to be affected the most.
  • Avoid giving your child too much juice, as it is often very sugary and this can lead to cavities.

Teething

At around 6 months a baby will often start teething, some symptoms may include sore and red gums, flushed cheeks, poor appetite, disturbed sleep and you may notice that the baby is dribbling, gnawing or chewing more. Teething can cause parents many issues, from sleepless nights to not being able to relieve their child’s pain. While some teeth can come through with no trouble but others may leave the gums sore and red where the tooth is trying to push it’s way out, although parents will be relieved to hear that there are things you can do to ease the pain.

Here are a few tips to soothe the discomfort of teething:

  • Giving your baby something hard to chew on can often help, although supervision is required. Special teething rings are available, although a bread crust, a peeled carrot or other relatively hard foods can be used and should work just as well. These objects can be cooled in the fridge to further help a babies discomfort.
  • A cool drink can help to soothe a baby’s gums, water is best as it is sugar-free.
  • If your baby dribbles remember to wipe their chin to prvent them developing a rash.
  • Sugar free teething gels are often effective as they may contain a mild anaesthetic and sometimes even antiseptic. Apply the gel to the affected area with a clean finger, but be aware that the gel is likely to only be appropriate for those babies over 3/4 months old.
  • Massage the gums with a clean finger, as sometimes placing a slight pressure on your babies gums can relieve some pain.

Parents will often want to save their child’s first tooth once it has fallen out and the best way to preserve the tooth is to gently clean it with soap and water or dip a cloth in rubbing alcohol to remove any blood that may be on the tooth.

 

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