When newborns reach three to six months, their first set of teeth, ie, milk teeth, start to appear. This is normally a very taxing time for both baby and parents, because when milk teeth start to appear (or the proper term is “erupt”) through the gums, it is accompanied with pain and fever. This pain and fever can go on through the day and night.
Teething babies (along with their parents) can get temporary relief when soothing teething gel is applied on their gums. Teething gel can be obtained from any pharmacy or dental clinic, and should be applied according to the instructions on the box. Parents should check with their baby’s paediatrician on the usage of teething gel.
If parents do not want to use teething gels, an alternative would be to buy teething rings and chill them in the fridge. Teething rings are durable plastic rings usually filled with water. When sufficiently chilled, you can give the teething ring to your baby to suck on for a while to ease the pain.
Both methods are alright to use as long as the parent or child carer follows the application instructions. And care must be taken to make sure the size of the teething ring is sufficiently big for the baby not to swallow it. You should also check the teething ring for wear and tear, and replace it immediately if there are bite marks, as there is a possibility your baby may try to eat and swallow a faulty teething ring.
A similar way as teething rings but considered more a traditional method, was to give a chilled spoon to the teething baby to suck on for a while. Parents or the child carer should check the spoon to make sure there are no sharp edges that could cut the baby’s gums or mouth. Just an important point to highlight, and that is to never leave your baby unattended with a teething ring or spoon.
There are probably other workable home methods to deal with teething babies. Readers may want to comment below on their experiences with teething. All it takes is a bit of imagination and innovation to come up with a home solution.
Do bear in mind that babies normally have a full set of 20 milk teeth that do not erupt at the same time. It is common to see a cute baby smile with two front teeth and no other milk teeth for the next few months, compared to a baby of the same age having a full set of baby teeth, as everyone is different. However, as a general rule, all 20 milk teeth should erupt by the time the baby reaches three years of age.
Parents are advised to start simple oral care for their babies from the beginning. This could be by wiping the insides of the baby’s mouth with a damp cloth after each milk feed, progressing to a soft toothbrush and later with the addition of special children’s toothpaste in the early years.
Since milk teeth start dropping when the baby grows to a child of 5 years old, a lot of parents do not place importance on dental care at this stage because the milk teeth are all going to fall out anyway, right? This is a wrong way of thinking, as milk teeth are there for a few reasons.
One main reason is to allow the baby to move on from drinking milk to eating semi solids before proceeding to solid food. Tooth decay is common in milk teeth due to the little attention paid to them. It may hinder good eating habits and deprive the child of certain nutrients, if the child refuses to eat certain “hard” foods. Another reason is milk teeth allow for proper speech development. And of course, a good set of milk teeth give the child confidence.
So, parents should start taking their babies from as young as 6 months old to visit a pedodontist (a dentist for children), to ensure that even the milk teeth are kept in good condition. Misaligned milk teeth may set the precedent for misaligned permanent teeth, and a pedodontist will know how to take corrective measures to minimize the misalignment in the early stages. Dental visits should be planned every six months.
When milk teeth start dropping and the permanent teeth start emerging, there are other basic oral care habits that should be done to ensure children have a healthy set of 32 permanents. Parents should consult the pedodontist or dentist for advice on maintaining permanent teeth, but some basic advice is listed below.
Brushing and flossing after meals will remove food stuck on or in between the teeth, lessens the amount of plaque and bacteria in the mouth, thus reducing the chances of tooth decay and mouth odour.
Intake of acidic food and sweet drinks should be monitored, as the acid attacks the outer layer of teeth (enamel) making them weaker and easily prone to further decay. Sugar turns into acid by bacteria found in plaque. Thus, a diet based on milk and fruit drinks in babies is why milk teeth decay fairly easily.
Teach children that teeth are used for eating, not opening bottle caps or cracking open nuts, which may cause teeth to chip or even break, leading to the painful process of tooth extraction.
If the child’s permanent teeth can be seen to be misaligned, seek the dentist quickly for early intervention solutions, perhaps braces may help.
If the child’s gums start bleeding, see a pedodontist or dentist immediately, as this may be a sign of a serious underlying dental issue.
Go for annual teeth scaling to remove the build-up of plaque on teeth, to prevent tooth decay.
Invest in good dental care and regular visits to a dentist, to save a lot of money and pain with expensive dental treatment like nasty fillings, bridges, crowning, implants, dentures, braces, gum disease, etc., for your child starting from infancy itself. A good set of permanent teeth go a long way in giving confidence in a person’s life, by allowing a broad smile (no tooth gaps), speaking with clarity, and having the ability to chew and enjoy food thoroughly. Take care of your child’s teeth from birth!
24th April 2020 17:10
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