We take care of our children throughout life but this care is all the more when our children are babies because we all know babies are tender and vulnerable. Any remote symptom of an allergy or infection and we rush to a doctor. We also take our babies for routine checks ups to keep even the possibility of falling ill at bay. But this very agile attitude of ours towards health becomes lethargic when it comes to the oral care. We rarely discuss about children’s gums and teeth with fellow parents. Most of the discussion of parents of children between 0-5 years of age is about physical health (other than oral health), schools, admissions and eating habits.
However, we must learn that tooth decay can happen at any given stage. The first tooth of a baby that appears around 6 months that we find so cute is also at the risk of decay. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is known as baby bottle tooth decay or Early Childhood Caries. Most commonly, it occurs in the upper front teeth but can affect other teeth as well. Tooth decay in some infants and toddlers may worsen to the stage where teeth are needed to be removed.
But there’s a good news! And that is tooth decay is preventable. We’ll discuss how.
Teething may be a ritual for us adults but babies have a hard time through it.
- As the teeth erupt some babies may become fussy, sleepless and irritable, lose their appetite or drool more than usual. Diarrhoea, rashes and fever are not normal symptoms for a teething baby.
- Give them chilled teether or the hard part of a carrot or ice cream sticks; these will give them a soothing effect and relieve them from irritating and swollen gums.
- Pacifiers may also to lead to tooth decay when they are dipped in sugar, honey juice or sweetened drinks.
- Sometimes, mothers or caregivers put baby feeding spoons or pacifiers in their mouth to clean those. This may also result in tooth decay since the cavity causing bacteria can pass from saliva in a mother or a care giver’s mouth to the baby’s mouth.
First Dental Visit
The first visit to a dentist should be as early as the first tooth appears and latest by the first birthday. If you are wondering what a dentist is going to do with hardly a tooth in a small mouth, then here’s your answer. In this first visit, the dentist mainly examines your child’s mouth and checks the growth and development of a child. This visit is also about making your child comfortable with the dental clinic and the dentist.
Baby Teeth Eruption Chart
- Prefer making a morning appointment because at that time children feel fresh and are cooperative.
- Your anxiety infects your child as well. So, keep calm and keep your anxiety to yourself.
- Never use a dental visit as a punishment or threat. Explain your child the reason for visiting the dentist and don’t bribe her for the same.
- You can begin cleansing your child’s mouth as soon as she is a few days old. You can do it by wiping the gums with a clean moist gauze pad.
- As soon as the first tooth appears in your child’s mouth, you should begin brushing it by using fluoride toothpaste. However, the amount of toothpaste should be no more than smear or size of grain of rice.
- For the teeth of children between 3 and 6 years of age, use a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste. Teeth should be brushed twice per day. Either you do it for them or you could supervise them while they themselves brush their teeth. But make sure they don’t swallow the toothpaste.
- Fluoride is a mineral that helps make tooth enamel more resistant to tooth decay. Infants and toddlers who do not receive an adequate amount of fluoride may be at increased risk of tooth decay.
- Fluoride occurs naturally in all water sources including oceans, rivers and lakes.
- Fluoride is also added to the community sources of water such as taps.
- Fluoride also helps repair weakened enamel.
- In case you live in an area where community water is not fluoridated, your dentist/paediatrician may recommend fluoride supplement for your child’s Fluoride needs.
Dr. Deepmala, B.D.S., M.I.D.A
Deep Dental Clinic
Sector-9, Huda Market, Faridabad