Babies begin to appear between 6 to 12 months after birth though they teeth begin developing way before they are born. By the time they get to 3, most of them have 20 teeth; which start falling out when they are 5 or 6 years old, giving way for the adult teeth to come through.
The fact that baby teeth eventually fall out does not mean that they shouldn’t be taken care of. A set of healthy baby teeth is important for baby’s clear speech and proper chewing. Just like with adult teeth, baby teeth are also prone to cavities if they aren’t taken care of. Before the baby teeth erupt, experts recommend that you wipe the baby’s gums with a wet cloth after feeding him and before bed. This serves to remove any food particles remaining.
Taking care of baby teeth
When the baby teeth begin erupting, even if they are just a few, parents are advised to start brushing the baby teeth using a soft tooth brush that can be used to clean both the teeth and gums without hurting them. Starting the child on a routine of brushing his teeth daily gets him used to brushing his teeth regularly and maintaining good oral hygiene when they grow up.
To brush your baby’s teeth, you need to get a soft toothbrush with a small head and large handle and brush back and front. You should first start with very little toothpaste almost the size of a rice grain graduating to pea-sized fluoride toothpaste when the child is about 3 years old.
You will need to brush your baby’s teeth up to the time when he can hold the toothbrush and brush on his own. You will however have to supervise him until he’s about 6 years old and can spit and rinse his mouth on his own.
Even when you regularly clean your child’s teeth and gums, you should take him for regular dental checkups. You should also look out for signs of decay and if you notice any, visit a pediatric dentist. The dentist will be able to address this and advice you on other matters such as thumb sucking, fluoride, and proper tooth care.
Tips for brushing teeth
- Brush your child’s teeth twice daily; during the day at a time that’s convenient for you and just before he goes to bed.
- Your child may not like his teeth being brushed so you’ll need to patiently keep trying. You could try making it into a fun game or letting him see you brush yours before you brush his.
- Have the child sit on your knee and rest his head on your chest when brushing. If the child is older the age of a toddler, you could tilt his head upwards while standing behind him.
Preventing tooth decay
- You should also employ measures that help prevent decay in addition to regular cleaning. These measures include:
- Avoiding drinks sweetened with sugar and not using the baby’s bottle for sugary drinks
- When your child begins eating solid foods, encourage him to eat healthy foods with little or no sugar.
- When your child takes sugary foods, limit the amount they have and allow him to take them at night. Only give them during the day at meal times.
Information on this website is not medical or dental advice, its for general information only. For more accurate medical and dental information please contact your dentist and pediatrician.