Author: Gauri Kshirsagar
Beginning dental care early is important for your child’s health and to keep teeth healthy for a lifetime. Healthy baby teeth help children eat and speak clearly. Passing on good oral habits to your child is one of the most important health lessons you can teach them. This means helping him or her brush twice a day, showing the proper way to floss, limiting between-meal snacks and seeing your dentist regularly.
Eruption of Primary (Milk teeth) Teeth:
Teething is one of the first rituals of life. Although newborns usually have no visible teeth, most baby teeth begin to appear generally about six months after birth. Baby teeth guide permanent adult teeth into the proper position. Teeth vary in size, shape and their location in the jaws. The following chart shows when primary teeth (also called baby teeth or deciduous teeth). It’s important to note that eruption time can vary from child to child. As seen from the chart, the first teeth begin to break through the gums at about 6 months of age. Usually, the first two teeth to erupt are the two bottom central incisors (the two bottom front teeth). Next, the top four front teeth emerge. After that, other teeth slowly begin to fill in, usually in pairs — one each side of the upper or lower jaw — until all 20 teeth (10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw) have come in by the time the child is 2 ½ to 3 years old. The complete set of primary teeth is in the mouth from the age of 2 ½ to 3 years of age to 6 to 7 years of age.
Other primary tooth eruption facts include:
- A general rule of thumb is that for every 6 months of life, approximately 4 teeth will erupt.
- Girls generally precede boys in tooth eruption
- Lower teeth usually erupt before upper teeth
- Teeth in both jaws usually erupt in pairs — one on the right and one on the left
- Primary teeth are smaller in size and whiter in color than the permanent teeth that will follow
- By the time a child is 2 to 3 years of age, all primary teeth should have erupted
As their teeth erupt, some babies may become fussy, sleepless and irritable, lose their appetite or drool more than usual. Diarrhea, rashes and a fever are NOT normal symptoms for a teething baby. If your infant has a fever or diarrhea while teething or continues to be cranky and uncomfortable, call your pediatrician.
Dental care in the first year of life:
Dental care includes cleaning your baby’s gums even before the teeth come into the mouth, by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth gently. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. Keeping your child’s teeth and gums clean is the easiest way to keep them healthy. Children have their own schedule for teething. Most children begin teething at about 6 months of age, at this age and untill they are about 18th months old you can use a silicon tip brush like a finger tip or a tether. Always buy with a casing and clean it with hot water. Replace the silicon tips every 3 months
Which toothbrush is the best? That is one question we all have once the baby is ready to use a toothbrush. I have scanned several toothbrushes of which I have used atleast 3 different brands for my twins, till they were three years of age. Before using a toothbrush I preferred the silicon fingertip cleaner for my kids when they were babies, as they were safe and soft. The brands (of various size of bristles) which I have tried and tested are:
The toothbrush which I found to be most suitable for them was the “Piyo Piyo” brand which is available on amazon.in. As you can see in the following pictures the tip of the brush is smaller and also the length of the bristles is shorter which makes brushing easier in toddlers. The brush also has a grip wherein it is easier for the child to hold and brush. Since the bristles are shorter (about 1 cm long), the articulation of the brush during brushing over the sides of the teeth and around gums is trouble-free.
About the other two brands which I used i.e “Jhonsons & Jhonsons” and “Pigeon” the former brand is preferable for kids above 3 years of age, since it has longer bristles and the later one though a bit bigger than “Piyo Piyo” can also be preferred. Cost wise I found the “Pigeon” brand too costly, “Jhonsons & Jhonsons” is very affordable and “Piyo Piyo” just fits in the budget. I will try to add more toothbrush reviews as and when I try different brands.
Some more tips for brushing:
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, brush inside surfaces of all teeth first, where plaque accumulates most.
- Clean all outside surfaces of teeth.
- Angle bristles toward the gumline.
- Brush gently back and forth.
- If kids are too small and fuzzy you can brush their teeth while sitting in a feeding chair or stroller
- Change the toothbrush every 3 months.
- When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily.
- For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice.
- For children more than 3 years of age use a pea-sized amount of an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
- Take care that your child doesn’t swallow the paste.
- If a child is too small and swallows the toothpaste, brush the teeth without using tooth paste
- Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician.
- Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
- There are various flavored toothpastes available in the market in gel and toothpaste form, my kids love the Pigeon strawberry flavored one. You can try out many flavors and choose the one your kid likes.
When should the child start cleaning his/her own teeth?
Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own properly, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. You can as well allow the child to practice brushing after you have thoroughly brushed his/her teeth.
Visit to the Dentist:
The American Dental Association ((ADA) recommends parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday.
Is Thumb or Finger Sucking a Problem and How Can I Treat it?
The sucking reflex is normal and healthy in babies. However, a thumb or finger sucking habit can cause problems with the growth of the mouth and jaw, and position of teeth, if it continues after permanent teeth have erupted, between four and seven years of age. Front teeth that point outwards (sometimes called buck teeth) and an open bite may result from habitual thumb or finger sucking. This can cause problems in adulthood that include premature tooth wear, increased dental decay and discomfort on biting.
The best way to deal with thumb or finger sucking is through positive reinforcement, not negative words or behavior. Your child is only doing what feels natural to him or her. Praise your child when he is not sucking his thumb/finger. You may also want to focus on correcting the anxiety that’s causing your child to suck her thumb/finger. You can remind your child of the habit by bandaging the thumb/finger, or putting on a sock over his hand at night. Bitter-tasting medication to coat the thumb can also be prescribed by your dentist or pediatrician.
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