Monday, March 14, 2016

Importance of Baby Teeth

Healthy teeth and gums are vital to children’s general health. Good dental care should start even before those first baby teeth arrive. But how do you clean those tiny gums and teeth?

Baby teeth development

Baby teeth develop while babies are still in the womb. Newborns have a full set of 20 baby teeth hidden in their gums.
Most baby teeth appear between 6 and 10 months. In some children, teeth appear as early as 3 months. In others, they don’t arrive until around 12 months. Children get teeth at different times. A very small number of children are born with 1-2 teeth.
Baby teeth can arrive in any order, although the central bottom teeth are often first. All 20 baby teeth will usually arrive by the time your child is three years old.
The 32 adult teeth replace the baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 20 years. You can’t replace these teeth, so you have to look after them.
Diagram of baby teeth and adult teeth positions 


As each baby tooth gets to the surface of the gum, the gum opens up to show the tooth.
Many people think that ‘teething’ babies:
  • cry a lot or seem extra cranky
  • don’t feed as well as usual
  • suck on objects such as toys, dummies and bibs
  • have more dirty nappies more often
  • pull the ear on the same side as the tooth coming through. 
These signs might be caused by teething – or they might just be a normal part of development or a result of minor infections and illnesses.
If your baby isn’t well, it’s always best to take her to the doctor, especially if she has a fever or diarrhea, or you’re worried about any other symptoms.
Babies sometimes rub their gums together when new teeth are starting to come through the gum. This isn’t usually a problem.
Things to try for teething
If you’re concerned about your baby’s teething, you can try:
  • gently rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger – make sure to wash your hands first
  • giving your baby something to bite on, such as a cold (but not frozen) teething ring, toothbrush or dummy
  • cooking mushier foods, which need less chewing
  • giving your baby something firm, like a sugar-free rusk, to suck on.
If your baby still seems unhappy or uncomfortable, it’s time to see your GP or child and family health nurse. Teething might not be the problem.
If your baby likes a dummy, don’t dip it in food and liquids such as honey and sugar. It’s also a good idea to encourage your baby to let go of the dummy after he’s about 12 months old.

Dental care for baby teeth and gums

You can start cleaning and caring for your baby’s gums well before the first tooth appears. A couple of times a day, just wipe her gums gently using a clean, damp face washer or gauze.
As soon as teeth arrive, you can clean them twice a day (in the morning and before bed). Wrap a clean, damp face washer or gauze around your finger and wipe the front and back of each of your baby’s teeth.
If your baby doesn’t mind, you can introduce a small, soft toothbrush designed for children under two years. Use only water on the toothbrush until your baby is 18 months old (unless a dentist tells you to do something else).
Once your child is 18 months old, you can use a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush.
Don’t use toothpaste with babies under 18 months of age (unless recommended by your dentist).
The best way to clean your baby’s teeth
  1. Place your baby in a position where you can see his mouth, and he feels secure.
  2. Cup your baby’s chin in your hands, with his head resting against your body.
  3. Clean his teeth using soft, circular motions.
  4. Lift his lips to brush the front and back of the teeth and at the gum line.
Keeping the toothbrush clean
After cleaning your baby’s teeth and gums, rinse the toothbrush with tap water.
Store the toothbrush upright in an open container to allow it to air-dry.
If other family members’ toothbrushes are stored in the same place, make sure the brushes don’t touch. This reduces the risk that decay-causing germs will travel between brushes and into your baby’s mouth. And there’s no sharing when it comes to toothbrushes! One for each family member is best.
You should replace toothbrushes every 3-4 months, or when the bristles get worn or frayed.

Early childhood decay

Early childhood caries (ECC) is a common and severe form of cavities found in very young children (0-4 years of age). Without treatment, decay can spread deeper into the tooth, causing pain and infection and even damage to the underlying adult tooth. The baby tooth or teeth may need to be removed. Unfortunately, because of their young age, children may require treatment under sedation or general anesthesia at a hospital.
If a baby tooth is missing too early other teeth may move into its space and block the way for the permanent tooth.

Contributing factors to early childhood decay:

  • Diets high in sugar
  • A high frequency of snacking and/or frequent meals as well as sticky and sugary snacks.
  • Sustained use of the baby bottle or sippy cup (especially at bed time)
  • Lack of tooth brushing and flossing
  • Limited access to fluoridated water

To prevent cavities:

  • Keep your child's teeth clean. This is the easiest way to keep teeth healthy.
  • Limit sugar filled foods and drinks (particularly for babies). Milk, juice and formula all contain sugar. Avoid using the bottle and sippy cup to sooth your child. Fill them with water instead.
  • Visit the dentist by age one or within six months of when you see the first tooth. Through regular examinations your dentist will monitor the development of your child’s teeth and gums to catch problems early and prevent disease.

Thumbsucking and Baby Teeth

Thumbsucking is a natural reflex for children. Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or anything they can get their mouths on can help babies learn feel safe and secure. Thumbsucking is a soothing action for babies, and can even help them lull themselves to sleep.

Thumbsucking is all well and good, until your child’s permanent teeth come in. Then it can cause problems. Crooked teeth and bite problems can result from thumbsucking. Also, the roof of the mouth can become unnaturally constricted or elevated and the jaws may not develop properly. The intensity of sucking matters, too. Aggressive suckers may even develop problems with their baby teeth.

Children usually stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four years old, or by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Which is good news for those emerging adult teeth! But if you have trouble getting your child to stop thumbsucking, try the following tips.

How to stop thumbsucking:

  • Limit the time your child sucks their thumb to when they are in their bedroom or only during naptime

  • Praise your child for not sucking

  • If your child sucks their thumb for comfort, try to correct the cause of an anxiety

  • Recruit your dentist in encouraging your child to stop thumbsucking

  • Remind your child of their thumbsucking habit by putting a sock over their hand when they nap or sleep

Children Oral Hygiene & Diet

baby-teeth.jpgJust as it is for adults, good oral hygiene and a well-balanced diet are good for children. It’s good for their teeth and it’s good for their overall well being. And good habits start young. So gently clean your baby’s gums after every feeding and give your baby healthy foods.
Even though it may be tempting to let your child fall asleep with a baby bottle in their mouth, don’t. You may not be able to see any baby teeth in your child’s mouth, but they’re there. And they’re just as susceptible to tooth decay. So letting a baby fall asleep with a bottle full of breast milk, formula, juice or any sweet drink is like soaking those developing teeth in sugar. That wouldn’t be good for anyone’s teeth, especially your baby’s, and it can result in baby bottle tooth decay. Good oral health and diet is pivotal to establishing a lifetime full of happy, healthy smiles. All it takes is brushing, flossing, and eating right. The key is to start those positive habits at an early age.