Just because baby teeth are temporary and will be replaced by adult teeth does not mean that they do not need care and attention. A child with healthy baby teeth will normally have healthy adult teeth. A child is born with teeth – they are hidden in the gums. The first tooth will appear between 6 to 12 months and the rest will usually appear over the next 2 years. A few basic precautions will help to keep your baby’s teeth healthy.
Babies Do Not Have a Sweet Tooth
Children are not born with a craving for sweets. They enjoy foods and fruit juices that do not contain sugar. If you are buying baby foods, look for those that are without sugar. Sugary foods are bad for the teeth. The sugar that is given to a baby should be as part of a meal, not as a snack between meals. This results in the sugar remaining on the teeth and causing decay. Your pediatrician will be able to advise you on the right foods for your baby, including those that promote the growth of strong teeth.
A Bottle Is Only For Feeding
Do not give a baby sweet drinks from a feeding bottle. This can easily become habit forming and once the teeth start appearing the sugar will coat and damage them. Also do not allow the baby to get into the habit of sleeping with the bottle – it is for feeding and should not be used as a pacifier. A baby will generally be able to use a cup after 6 months and can be weaned away from the bottle after a year. Drinking water after eating will work to flush away the food particles trapped in the gums and between the teeth.
A Soother Is Not Essential
Not all babies need a soother – if the child does not want one, there is no need to offer it. If a soother or pacifier is to be used, it should be an orthodontic type that is designed not to affect the mouth and teeth development. Wean the baby off the soother as soon as possible – long term use can affect the growth of the teeth. Dipping a soother into a sweet liquid to encourage the baby to use it is a mistake as it will increase the sugar intake and the chances of tooth decay.
Teething Discomfort Is To Be Expected
Sore gums, restlessness and irritability are normal side effects of the discomfort of teething. At times, this can lead to a slight upset stomach. However, teething does not normally result in significant sickness. If the baby show signs of anything more than minor discomfort of the mouth, teeth or gums, consult a dentist to check if there are any other issues that need to be dealt with.
Thumb Sucking Is Normal
Most children stop sucking their thumbs at around 4 years. If the child continues to do this after this age or if the sucking is very hard, it can pull the teeth out of alignment and cause problems that will need to be treated in later years. Thumb sucking makes a child feel secure and comfortable. Giving him or her other enjoyable things to do can take the mind off this habit and over time cause the child to lose interest in it.
If your child has any dental problems or suffers a mouth or tooth related injury, it’s important to have it examined and treated by a dentist as soon as possible. Many minor problems and injuries will heal themselves with time. But since a child cannot articulate accurately the pain or discomfort that is being felt, having a specialist examine the problem and decide if any treatment is required will avoid the possibility of a minor issue being exacerbated and becoming something major. The development of healthy adult teeth depends upon the child having healthy baby teeth.