Dental care for babies and toddlers are as important as it is for adults.
A healthy and strong set of teeth will boost baby’s well being and promote better food digestion and speech ability.
Let’s find out how baby’s teeth are formed:
- Known as teeth buds, baby’s teeth are formed in their gums while they are still in the womb and will set the foundation for their milk teeth.
- Milk teeth will sprout when baby is around 4 -6 months old; a set of 20 milk teeth will sprout progressively.
- The milk teeth will eventually be replaced by a set of 32 permanent teeth when baby reaches 6 years old.
The table below displays a pattern on how your baby’s teeth will normally grow, some of the symptoms and how you as a parent can help your baby ease the teething pain and discomfort.
|6 – 7
||Two central bottom & top.
- Gums appear sore and red
- Biting to relieve pressure
- Flushed cheeks
- Ear pulling
- Cheek rubbing
- Rub baby’s gums with a clean finger.
- Let baby bite on chilled (not frozen) teething ring or food.
- Rub sugar-free teething gel on baby's gums (babies over 4 months old).
- Give sugar-free paracetamol for babies, if need be.
|7 – 9
||2 more incisors
||Two more at the top & bottom.
|10 – 14
||Double teeth for chewing.
|15 – 18
||Point teeth – “fangs”.
|2 – 3 years
||Second set of double teeth at the back making it a total of 20 teeth.
|6 years till adult
||New permanent teeth
||New set of permanent teeth will replace the milk teeth gradually and grow into a total of 32 teeth.
- Cold, etc.
Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for a long period of time.
Parents should not worry if their baby sprouts their teeth later or earlier as each baby’s growth is unique. Monitor your baby closely, and help baby ease the pain of teething by keeping their teeth clean and healthy.
First Care for Baby’s Teeth
Caring for your baby’s teeth is important although they will eventually lose them. Healthy teeth could prevent tooth decay that causes pain and discomfort to your baby. Let’s look at some helpful tips on how to care for your baby’s teeth.
||Why you should care for your baby's teeth
||Things to avoid
||Baby teeth serve to hold a place and space for permanent teeth.
||Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. Its sugar content can cause tooth decay.
||Tooth decay and early loss can lead to permanent teeth shifting, causing orthodontic problems.
||Feed baby with milk a little before bedtime and brush baby’s teeth before putting baby to bed.
||Promotes baby’s speech ability.
||Do not dip pacifier in sugary substance.
||Healthy teeth will boost self confidence.
||Do not use milk or juice as pacifier. Prolonged sucking on bottle will be harmful to baby’s teeth.
||Important for biting and chewing enabling baby to sample and consume nutritional food.
||Try instilling a habit of drinking plain water before going bed.
Brushing / Cleaning Baby’s Teeth
How do you clean your baby’s teeth? Some babies can be fussy and won’t cooperate to have their teeth cleaned. Here are some useful tips on how you can clean and keep your baby’s or toddler’s teeth strong and healthy.
||Tips on brushing / cleaning baby's teeth
- Clean newborn’s gums with a damp gauze or soft washcloth to wipe off any residue.
- Let baby hold the brush and get used to it.
- Make brushing fun and something baby would look forward to (like singing or playing games).
- Use specially designed toothbrush with soft bristle and small head that is safe yet comfortable and can reach easily into baby’s inner corners of the mouth.
- Brush gently in a circular motion and try to make baby imitate.
- Use only a “pea-size” amount of baby's toothpaste, as babies tend to swallow most of it.
- Replace brush every 10-12 weeks or when filaments start to splay. This could avoid bacterial infection and ensure better cleaning.
- Avoid using too much baby’s toothpaste. High amount of fluoride can lead to fluorosis (appearance of white spots). Some dental practitioners suggest NO fluoride for babies under 2 years old.
||Teaching a Toddler
- The KEY to cavity-free teeth is to teach your child to develop a healthy oral care habit.
- Toddlers imitate easily, so be a role model to your toddler.
- Let them have control over their hygiene routine, promote and encourage them often with rewards and praises.
- Practise often as practice makes perfect.
- Find a toothpaste and brush that they like and is safe for them.
- Take your toddler for dental check-ups regularly.