One of the important milestones in your child’s development is having his or her first tooth. It is always exciting to see that little white tooth popping out of your baby’s gums, not to mention it adds a hundred cuteness points. It also marks the stage when you know you can almost start feeding your baby solid food. And with this new milestone, parents should start thinking about how to take care of their baby’s teeth.
One of the common misconceptions I hear when I talk to young mothers is that they think it’s okay for baby teeth to have cavities since they’re “not permanent anyway”. This is a huge mistake, parents! Baby teeth require care and attention too, as much as our adult teeth. Taking care of your baby’s teeth is vital in the development of her permanent teeth. Bad baby teeth might lead to problematic permanent teeth. Losing baby teeth early on might also affect jaw development and the growth of the permanent teeth as well (they might be deformed and could cause pain).
So what should you do?
Around 5 months of age, you can start gently rubbing your baby’s gums with your fingers or allow to baby to bite on a soothing jelly-filled cold teething ring. It will help in soothing the baby’s teething pains and help the first tooth to break skin a little easier, thereby soothing your baby’s aching gums. Even if it’s just one pearly white, start cleaning and brushing it already. Remember to use children’s toothbrushes – those extra soft ones – and remember to brush softly to avoid injuring the gums. If you’re uncomfortable with the brushing, there are special “teeth wipes” that you can use to clean your baby’s little tooth.
When your baby’s teeth start growing, it’s also time for you to rethink and evaluate everything you give your kids. Kids complete their baby teeth by their second or third birthday. By this time, some children have already developed cavities in their little pearly whites. Babies are also prone to “nursing caries”, a kind of decay that develops with feeding habits at night. Since your little tyke’s teeth are developing, help them learn the habit of drinking water after eating sweets and drinking milk, and brushing their own teeth.
It’s recommended to visit the dentist after your baby’s first birthday. By this time, your child most probably has her two front lower teeth, so there’s something to check already. If you already have a family dentist, ask them if they are experienced in handling children. If not, you should look for a pedodontist. A pedodontist is a dentist who specializes in children’s teeth, and they’re specifically trained to handle children.
It’s very important to make your first visit to the dentist enjoyable. A lot of kids develop a fear of dental visits because their first visit was a disaster. Before the visit itself, condition your child to be excited to meet his or her dentist. Tell them positive things about the dentist. Of course, you as a parent must also be comfortable with your child’s dentist. Talk to your family dentist early on; see if you would be good working partners when it comes to your child’s teeth.
Dental visits should occur every six months so that you can monitor the development of your kid’s teeth well. You also need to coordinate with your pedodontist on dietary issues, mouth mannerisms like lip sucking and excessive sucking, and the general development of your child’s teeth and jaw.
Taking care of baby’s teeth is another exciting part of being a parent. It’s also a time when you can actively participate in the physical development of your child, so make sure those pearly whites are clean and cavity-free. Happy brushing!