Dental care is one of the most important healthcare practices that even a child is in need of. Right from inside the mother's womb, the child's milk teeth start to develop and that is why, the baby is in need for nutrition supply, that is the supply of vitamins and minerals, through the mother, even when inside the body of the mother. As the baby is born, around 6 months of its age, the baby's primary teeth or milk teeth start to erupt from the gums. By the time he/she reaches the 3rd year of its age, all of its 20 primary teeth will come out. Within 6 and 11 years of age, these milk teeth or primary teeth will all go away and the baby will have his/her permanent teeth.
Why is it Important to Take Care of the Teeth in Babies?
Right from the time that the primary teeth of the baby start to come out or erupt, it must be taken care of. This is because, healthy baby teeth:
- Holds the space for the permanent teeth to come out
- Help the baby to speak properly
- Make it easy for him/her to chew and eat.
Adverse Effects of not Taking Care for Baby Teeth:
If the teeth of the baby are not properly taken care of, it may lead to:
- Pain and discomfort in the teeth, leading to gradual tooth and gum decay
- Infection in the mouth
- Damage to the permanent teeth that are lying beneath
- Expensive dental surgeries
- No space for the permanent teeth to come out.
As the baby starts to have his/her first tooth erupted, you will be able to get an indication through some of the very common symptoms and behavioural changes in the baby. They are:
- The baby will cry a lot more than usual
- Feeding the baby will be an even major problem than usual
- The baby will suck and try to bite of objects such as dummies, toys or even the bib that the baby wears
- If the tooth is coming out in one side of the mouth, the baby often pulls the ear of that side of the face
- You will have to change dirty nappies more often.
Ways to Take Care of the Baby's Teeth:
As soon as the weaning baby starts to have its first tooth, your responsibility as a parent or as a care giver begins. Taking care of the baby teeth follows quite a number of steps and they are:
Brushing the Babies Teeth Properly
This is one of the most important steps that the baby must be provided with. Although many parents have a misconception that the baby does not need to brush its teeth as they only have a few little teeth in their mouth, it is an absolute misconception. The baby's teeth are also in need for proper brushing. The brushing should be done in a proper manner that should make sure that the parent or care giver holds the baby in a position that all of its teeth are visible and the baby can get a secure holding position for its head in the caregiver's lap. Then chin of the baby should be held as a cup in on hand and with the other hand, using a soft brush that has tender bristles, the teeth should be brushed.
In fact, even before the teeth have started to come in, and the gums start to fluff, you must clean it and massage it gently to increase the blood circulation and make the path of teeth eruption clear. To clean the mouth of the baby, a soft gauze cloth should be used by wetting it, in order to wipe the mouth.
It is very important that right from the beginning of the dental care, the baby is given a little amount of fluoride to take care of the teeth. This will prevent the decay and resist the acid and bacteria that cause tooth decay. The fluoride can be given in any form. Either you can use fluoride based toothpaste for the baby or you can ask the baby's dentist to give him or her supplements of fluoride or have it supplied through water. Always keep in mind that the baby's toothpaste and the adult's toothpaste are not same. Seek dentist's advice for the proper cleaning material and also use only a pea-like amount of fluoride for the baby's teeth.
Do not Build a Habit of Sleeping with the Baby Bottle or While Breastfeeding
Many babies grow a general habit of sleeping with the bottle in the mouth. But this is not at all a good idea. As soon as the baby is fed, the baby must be removed from the breasts or the bottle must be taken out and not build a habit for the baby to sleep with these in its mouth. These are common causes of decay of the teeth as well as the gums. The bottle is meant for feeding the baby and it is not a pacifier. If the habit persists, it will damage the natural process of the permanent teeth to come out.
As the baby grows and you shift them from all-liquid diets, try not to give high-on-sugar foods and liquids to the baby frequently. Try and avoid giving the baby the processed carbohydrates, like pasta, pastries or white bread and instead give whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Do not give sweets, candies and chocolates as treat for the children and ask your friends and relatives to do the same. Use other engaging items like crayons and story books to divert their mind.
Following these teeth care methods will ensure that the baby has healthy teeth and will grow the permanent teeth right on time. There will not be any possibility for developing any tooth or gum decay and hence, you can be assured about the baby's oral health. However, if there is any kind of decay or discomfort in the baby's mouth, make sure that a dentist is visited as soon as possible, without delay.