Healthy habits begin at birth by cleaning your child’s gums with a soft cloth and water. After the first tooth erupts, try a soft infant toothbrush to clean the tooth and gums. Six months of age is when most babies start teething. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents schedule a consultation with a pediatric dentist before their child reaches the age of one.
By two years of age, they will have all 20 baby teeth. During this time, your child may show the signs of teething including drooling, sucking, biting, gum rubbing, facial rash, irritability, restlessness, decreased appetite and possibly even a mild elevation in temperature. Symptoms typically last from 4 days before a tooth emerges until 3 days afterward. During these periods, comfort your baby with teething rings or a cold washcloth to bite on. Massaging the gums, increasing fluid intake and providing non-aspirin analgesics will also help provide relief to our youngest of patients.
In general, consumption of sugary foods and drinks should be avoided, particularly between meals, as well as repeated use of sippy cups. Avoid bottle feeding after around 12-14 months – and never put your child to bed with a bottle.
One more thing- as parents, it’s easy to get so caught up in taking care of the kids that you forget to take care of yourself. Not surprisingly, allowing this to happen can have a negative impact on your child’s health. Studies have shown that the onset of caries, a disease that manifests itself in the form of severe tooth decay, can be hastened in a child if his/her parents have poor oral hygiene.
Caries is caused by cariogenic bacteria. This bacterium consumes residual sugar in the mouth and produces acid as a byproduct. The resultant acid slowly erodes enamel and causes gradual tooth decay. Cariogenic bacteria can be passed from person to person via activities in which saliva is swapped. Parents are especially liable to share these bacteria with their kids due to the fact that many saliva-swapping activities (blowing on hot food, sharing utensils, licking pacifiers) are daily occurrences in the parenting world. However, friends and neighbors are just as capable of spreading the bacteria, and so all saliva-sharing activities should be kept to a minimum.
Parents who have poor oral hygiene generally have higher concentrations of cariogenic bacteria, and are therefore more likely to facilitate the development of caries in their children. To minimize the chances of your child having to struggle with caries, first make sure you’re taking care of yourself!