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Kids Oral Care: Baby Teeth And How To Care For Them

When do baby teeth begin to appear?

At birth, the primary teeth which are popularly referred as the baby teeth, have already been formed. These teeth are hidden in the gums and begin to cut through the gums at about six months of age.

The appearance of the baby teeth differs in each baby. Some babies get their teeth at an earlier age, while others may get them later.

The variance of age is also normal that Mommy X’s one-year-old may have a different number of teeth in comparison to Mommy Y’s one-year-old baby.

How do the baby teeth appear?

The first teeth that come out are usually the front bottom teeth, followed by the four front top teeth and another two bottom teeth. Teeth usually come two at a time – one on either side of the jaw. By age three, 20 primary teeth should have appeared.

It is also normal for baby teeth to have spaces between them because these spaces help make enough room for the permanent teeth. The lack of space between the baby teeth may sometimes mean that adult teeth will be crowded.

How can I care for my baby's teeth?

Despite the eventual fall out of baby teeth, taking proper care of them is still necessary because they help your child in biting and chewing of food which is pivotal in the development of normal oromuscular function and his or her speech.

Baby teeth also help guide permanent teeth into place that when a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room to come in which can lead to crooked or crowded teeth.

Discolorization Of Baby Teeth

Parents may notice a change in the color of their baby’s teeth, and this discolorization is caused by several factors that range from minor to major.

What causes discoloration of my baby's teeth?

  • Taking tetracycline or other antibiotics during pregnancy cause tooth calcification, making teeth gray or yellow.
  • Baby’s medications can hinder normal saliva production which causes stained teeth.
  • Sugary beverages do not only cause tooth decay, but it can also stain teeth and deteriorate the teeth’s enamel.
  • Illnesses or infections can change the color of the teeth.
  • Lack of proper oral hygiene can cause various dental problems like teeth staining.

“Baby Bottle Tooth Decay”

Baby bottle tooth decay is the term used for tooth decay in babies and toddlers.

Why do babies get cavities?

Repeated exposure to liquids-rich in sugar like fruit juice, breast milk, formula, and other sweetened drinks can suffer from severe tooth decay. Sugary or sweetened liquids allow acid and bacteria to linger in the child’s mouth for longer periods. When carbohydrates, in the form of sugar, are ingested, they react with the bacteria in the mouth, which trigger the occurrence and advancement of tooth decay.

Aside from sugary liquids, prolonged use of pacifiers can lead to slanting of the top and front teeth and tilting of the bottom teeth, as well as, jaw misalignment and narrowing of mouth roof. Diminishing the likelihood of long-term use to avoid oral issues is recommended, but parents can also follow the simple dos and don’ts below as a guide.

  • Do use a one-piece pacifier made from natural rubber or silicon to closely simulate a mother’s nipple. A soother which is soft enough to flatten out the roof of the baby’s mouth will not cause any jaw misalignment.
  • Do a regular check-up for damages of pacifiers especially two-piece types which have a greater risk of failing between the junctures where parts are attached to prevent a choking hazard.
  • Do replace pacifiers when the nipples become sticky, change color, torn, or cracked every two to three months.
  • Do not tie pacifiers around baby’s neck as it presents injury or worse, death.
  • Do not suck your child’s pacifier to clean it out because it exposes your child to transmittable microbial diseases.
  • Do not coat the soother with syrup, honey or other sweeteners because they cause cavities. It is also not advisable to feed children honey before the age of 12 months.

Ways To Care For Your Baby’s Teeth

Before your child gets his or her first tooth, wipe his or her gums with a clean, damp gauze or washcloth. Carefully wrap the gauze or washcloth around your index finger, then rub it gently over the baby’s gums. When your child’s teeth come out, brush them twice daily using a soft toothbrush with polished nylon. Bristles can be softened by soaking them in warm water for a few minutes. Search for a toothbrush that is specifically designed with a small grip and small head.

During two years of age, you can begin using fluoridated toothpaste with fluoride lower than 1,000 parts per million to brush your child’s teeth. Use only a small dab of toothpaste which is about the size of your baby’s pinky fingernail. Gently brush the inside and outside of the child’s teeth and clean his or tongue to clear away bacteria that can cause bad breath. Also, replace the child’s toothbrush regularly, especially when the bristles are already shredded or worn out.

Children tend to swallow toothpaste when brushing, so make sure to make your child spit out the substance. Though cases are uncommon, swallowing of toothpaste may lead to fluorosis which is a condition where white spots appear on a child’s adult teeth. Too much fluoride may also result in cosmetic problems in the permanent teeth.

Children at high risk for cavities can get sealants put on their teeth. Sealants are plastic coverings placed over the grooves of teeth to protect them from decay.

It is important for parents to be aware of any holes or dark spots in the teeth which are initial signs of decay. Sealants are plastic coverings placed over the grooves of teeth to protect them from decay.

Practicing good oral hygiene as earlier as now will be beneficial in developing habits for good oral health. Getting your child accustomed to having his or her mouth cleaned is a pivotal part of daily dental routine care, making it easier to shift into toothbrushing on his or her own in the future as well.

When should I bring my child to the dentist?

Consultation with a dentist is also recommended no later than the child’s first birthday. By the age of six months old to 12 months old, children are expected to visit the dentist and then at intervals as recommended by the dentist to help in the proper care of baby teeth to prevent problems in the growth of permanent teeth.

Do not put off dental treatment because of concerns about child’s behavior in the dental center. Consultation with a dentist is also recommended no later than the child’s first birthday and then at intervals as recommended by the dentist to help in the proper care of baby teeth to prevent problems in the growth of permanent teeth.

What happens during my child's first dental visit?

During his first visit, your child may only take a few minutes. The dentist will check the child’s teeth for indication of dental caries, and general assessment of his oral health.

Also, the dentist will check for the child’s bite, oral tissues, jaw, and gums. Your kid may also undergo cleaning.

What should I do during my child's first dental visit?

As a parent, you must be anxious in bringing your child to a foreign place, with all the machines and instruments. The anxiety is understandable.

However, it will be best to keep your composure and stay calm because children tend to turn to their parents for signals regarding a new situation. If your child saw you being apprehensive, he will sense it.

Comforting your child with words such as, “Don’t be afraid,” “It’s alright,” is doing more harm than good to him or her. He will begin to think that there is something he should be afraid of and that there is an imminent danger.

Act normal. Talk to your child about how going to the dentist is part everyone’s life. You can also use stories or toys to help him understand the situation and the need to visit the dentist.

It may also be helpful to brief your child on the procedures he will have. Before going to the dentist, you can use role-playing to prepare your kid’s mind off the upcoming visit by pretending to be a dentist.

Encourage your child to enjoy the experience by telling him good stories about dentists and what he might enjoy in the dental office.

Also, ensure that the dental facility is kid-friendly and its staff is approachable. The dentist must also be gentle and friendly to make the experience comfortable for your child.

If your child cried, avoid scolding him and using the dentist as a threat when he misbehaves. Be patient and comfort your kid with nice words. After the visit, give your child compliments for doing well on the checkup.

What should I do if my child loses a tooth in school?

Baby teeth will eventually fall out. However, it can be inconvenient for a child to lose a tooth while in school that knowing what to do and preparing for it is necessary.

And as a parent, there are measures you can take to help your child prepare for this occurrence.

  • Talk to your child about the possibility of losing his or her tooth in school and advise them what to do. Tell them to refrain from wiggle their tooth and to take extra care when eating to prevent the tooth from falling out. Instruct them to tell their teacher or a staff member about the situation, or go straight to the nurse’s office if no adult is available to assist them. Teachers have handled similar situations before and will know what to do.
  • Prepare a container where the child can put his or her fallen tooth. Once the tooth becomes looser, the likeliness that it will fall out becomes more urgent.
  • Don’t make your child feel guilty about the possibility of losing their tooth in school. Also, answer your child’s questions about losing their tooth to give them confidence in tackling the situation.

References:

  • https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay
  • https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/start-brushing-teeth.html
  • https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/caring-babies-teeth
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