Dental health advice for babies and toddlers
Oral health is a prime indicator of your overall physical health and well-being of life. Even if you’ve been told you’ve got nice teeth, it’s important to take the right measures every day to look after them and avoid problems. This means having the right oral care products, as well as being conscious of your everyday habits. Not only for adults, but it’s also equally important for babies to have healthy teeth.
Babies start developing teeth while they are in the mother’s womb. A full set of 20 baby teeth are concealed in the gums of a newborn. Teeth begin to show up between 6 and 10 months for most babies. In some infants, teeth begin as early as three months. While in others, they aren’t expected until about 12 months.
Babies get teeth at different periods. Very few children are born with 1-2 teeth. Even though the central bottom teeth are first to appear, there is no set order. By the time your child is three years old, usually, all 20 teeth appear. And, between the ages of 6-20 years, all baby teeth are replaced by 32 adult teeth.
It is important to start caring for the baby’s teeth right from the start. Cavities, or any other oral diseases, can be prevented by practicing and promoting healthy habits. Proper dental care also helps the child developing a clear speech. We have discussed 15 ways for baby’s dental care below:
15 Dental care tips for babies
- Even before the teeth come in, clean the child’s mouth at least twice a day. Wipe the gums with a warm, damp cloth after each feeding and before bedtime. It will prevent bacteria from sticking to gums.
- It’s time to start using a toothbrush once the first tooth appears. Use a small toothbrush with a little head and a large handle, specially designed for children. Avoid scrubbing hard along the gum-line to prevent irritation in gums.
- Clean the toothbrush with tap water, and allow it to dry. Keep it in an upright position in an open container, or use a toothbrush stand. The toothbrushes should be replaced every 3-4 months or when the brushes get ragged. Occasionally, use anti-bacterial mouthwash to soak or rinse the toothbrush to reduce bacteria.
- Don’t allow your baby to sleep with a bottle in the mouth. This soaks the teeth and increases the risk of tooth decay (cavities). The liquid from the bottle might also drain down the throat of your baby, in turn causing the baby to choke. This might turn out to be highly dangerous.
- Fill your baby’s bottle only with water, milk, or formula. Avoid giving juices and other sugary drinks to your child. Sweet drinks settle on the teeth and allow bacteria to stick to them, in turn attacking the teeth.
- During the teething process, the baby’s gums might become swollen or red, and saliva flow increases. To relieve the child from this discomfort, give the infant a clean teething ring or a cold, wet washcloth. It can prove to be comforting, as the cold temperature is soothing. Visit a dentist, if the baby is still uncomfortable.
- Tooth decay or cavities are caused by bacteria that are transmissible and infectious. Avoid checking the temperature of the child’s bottle with your mouth. Don’t share utensils (like a spoon, etc.), as bacteria can easily pass from your saliva to the baby. Such precautions can help avoid the transmission of bacteria.
- As your child starts consuming more solid foods and drinks from a cup, remove the dependency of the bottle. The majority of children drink from a cup by age 12 to 14 months. Limit the frequency of sweet drinks and food you give to your baby, and promote healthy habits from an early age.
- Keep the baby’s gums clean to ward off bacteria. It also helps in relieving the soreness from the teething process.
- Keep an eye on the appearance of the baby’s teeth and gums. If you notice any spots on the teeth, it might be a sign of a cavity. Schedule a visit to a dental clinic in Dubai for further precaution and care.
- Give adequate water to your baby. Water is a natural source of fluoride. Fluoride is a low-cost and effective way to prevent tooth decay. It also makes the teeth stronger. Take the advice from the pediatrician if your water supply does not contain enough fluoride.
- Introduce a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste by the age of 2. Ensure that your child spits the toothpaste and does not swallow it. Always cross-check the label of the toothpaste, as some toothpaste does not contain fluoride.
- Make flossing a part of daily oral hygiene. Flossing helps in cleaning the spaces between the teeth. The plaque and bacteria that live in between the teeth are not removed by a toothbrush alone. Without adequate flossing, the child’s risk of developing cavities would be greater.
- A regular visit to the dentist is very imperative. Your child must first see the dentist around the age of one, or when the first tooth appears. This also allows you to discuss any other concerns you might have regarding your baby’s oral care.
- Teach your baby to brush and floss by showing how it is done. Pay equal attention to the back teeth, that’s where often the cavities first develop. Encourage the baby to hold the brush and make the whole learning process fun.
In the absence of healthy teeth, your child may face difficulties in chewing and speaking. Tooth decay also interferes with good nutrition. Lack of proper oral care might lead to gum infection and other teeth diseases. It is crucial to look after the baby’s teeth at an early stage and keep them decay-free. Oral hygiene is very important and reflects overall health. Oral care of your baby begins with you. Inculcating good habits at a young age helps your child maintain healthy teeth for life.