Congratulations on your bundle of joy, Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. With so many information and contributions from other mothers, grand mothers and the world at large on the internet. It can be quite confusing to select which advice to follow. When you have a child everyone seems to have an opinion or an experience to share. But in the end whatever you decide, you will be blamed or praised for the consequences.
Its with that I am directing the guide to the parent because you are solely responsible for the oral health of your child until he or she is old enough.
First of all let’s look at the expected timelines for the arrival of your baby’s teeth.
Typically, babies get their teeth in pairs. First come the middle two on the bottom. A month or so later, the two above those arrive. Still, it’s not uncommon to see a baby with four bottom and no upper teeth, or the reverse.
A general timeline:
– 6 months: lower central incisors
– 8 months: upper central incisors
– 10 months: lower and upper lateral incisors
– 14 months: first molars
– 18 months: canines
– 24 months: second molars
These process of eruption from the jaw into the mouth is called Teething. The teething process lasts about two years, but after the first few teeth come in, the process tends to be much less painful. (Experts aren’t sure why that is—it could be that babies get used to what teething feels like over time.)
Let me share my observation as a dental surgeon:
I recently screened over 100 babies those with teeth and those without from different part of the country in Tamale Ghana, on the operation smile platform and I gathered interesting methods people are applying and the knowledge they had about caring for their baby’s teeth.
Those who clean with cotton wool, towel or handkerchief
Those who don’t see the need to clean the baby’s teeth, “its so small” was their excuse.
Those who were scared especially when the upper & lower teeth are in, he/she will bite me.
Doctor he/she likes sweet too much. (This category makes me laugh, because clearly someone is buying the sweets, sugary drinks and candies for them, but no one wants to take d blame.)
She/ he cries a lot so I don’t bother anymore.
“Doctor tell him/her, he/she doesn’t listen to me” *occasionally there are knocks and pulling of the ears of the child to listen to advice from me.
When they finish their drama, I calmly let the parent/ guardian know they are solely responsible and recognize they are children not little adults. They are to supervise teeth brushing until the child is 7 years old and reinforce until child is 12 years.
Teethlicious guide during the teething phase
Your focus is on ways to soothe the pain
A wet, frozen washcloth(leave one end dry so she can get a good grip) The thick fabric feels good, and the icy cold numbs sore gums.
A teething toy that’s been chilled in the refrigerator also works,
Massage the gums. If the tooth is still deep in the gum and hasn’t formed a painful bruise, counterpressure or friction where it’s about to erupt can work wonders. Try rubbing the area with your clean finger (bare or wrapped in a washcloth).
Pain Reliever : occasionally you can give paracetamol syrup for temporary pain relief, or topical oral anesthetics bonjela, as long as you don’t exceed the recommended dosage.
Distraction : You can often soothe your child simply by getting her mind off the pain. Give her more one-on-one time or offer her a new toy. And don’t underestimate the healing power of touch: A little extra cuddling on the sofa may be all that’s needed to take a child’s mind off her mouth.
Teethlicious Guide once the tooth appears
Once the first tooth appears, try to start cleaning it twice a day by rubbing gently with a washcloth/ clean cotton wool.
Whatever you do, don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle or nurse him to sleep once his teeth come in, since he/she is now prone to cavities.
When to see dentist?
Child should have a comprehensive examination by a dentist by the time he/she is 1 year old.
Don’t scare them or use dental visits as threats. Be positive about it and make the trip fun
All children can use family toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride as long as you supervise brushing until the age of seven.
Teethlicious Guide for Toddler phase (1-2 years)
- To prevent early childhood caries or what is called baby bottle tooth decay. If you put your baby to bed with a bottle, fill it with water, and never give him carbonated drinks.
- Avoid sugary drinks and use water to transition from bottle to cup. You can’t put your child to bed with juice or Milo drink. It has to stop.
- Thumb or lip sucking: Most contemporary pediatric health providers agree that these habits have important formative and nurturing functions and, at least for the first few years of life (up until about age four), should be ignored. There is, however, universal agreement that sucking should cease before permanent teeth begin to appear.
- At this phase it might be difficult creating an oral care routine. Try involving the whole family, and be a role model. For example, brush together at the same time each day to start creating a good habit.
- Parents can brush kids’ teeth as they come in with an infant toothbrush, using water with just a smear of toothpaste until about age 2.
Teethlicious Guide for Age 3-5 years
- Love of sweets phase: Try to give your children healthy snack options like vegetables, yogurt or cheese.
- Children aged between three and five years should use a pea-sized blob of toothpaste.
- Guide your child’s hand so they can feel the correct movement.
- Use a mirror to help your child see exactly where the brush is cleaning their teeth.
- Make tooth brushing as fun as possible by using a timer to time it for about two minutes.
- Don’t let children run around with a toothbrush in their mouth as they may have an accident and hurt themselves.
- Visit the dentist twice in a year for scaling and polishing, fluoride therapy and for other preventive measures.
- Encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste but not to rinse with lots of water. Rinsing with water after tooth brushing will wash away the fluoride and reduce its benefits.
- Make sure they don’t eat or lick toothpaste from the tube.
You have to brush their teeth for them. Children don’t have the manual dexterity until they’re between 5 and 7 years old. Even when your child thinks they can brush their own teeth, your job is to go back and re-brush for them.
Teethlicious Guide for Age 6–12 years
- Begin flossing as soon as teeth touch. The child will likely fuss or cry, but don’t let that discourage you.
- Let your child know that it’s normal for baby teeth to fall out. That’s how “grown-up” teeth come in.
- From the age of seven or eight they should be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea to watch them now and again to make sure they brush properly and for about two minutes.
Teethlicious Guide for Teenager phase
- Supervise their teeth brushing until they are 13 years or before the age they move to a boarding school. After that you pray and hope that the way you have trained them they will not depart from it.
- Regular visit to the dentist will now become a habit and some might need restorative or orthodontic treatment.
- Those with Braces: Make sure they brush well around braces and use a floss threader to remove all food particles.
- Encourage children to wear mouth guards during sports to protect their teeth from any potential accidents.
Baby teeth may be temporary, but they’re important because they hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth and are necessary for chewing and speaking. Besides causing pain, cavities in baby teeth can also increase the risk of decay in permanent teeth. Just opening up the child’s mouth for the dentist to take a look is useful practice for when they could benefit from future preventative care. Don’t take the trip for granted. Don’t wait till you notice a cavity, or they complain of toothache or till their face is swollen.
Take care of your baby’s teeth, till they are old enough. I wish you the best and I hope this guide has been insightful and helpful, share with your fellow moms & dads. Stay Gorgeous Stay Professional. Happy Teethlicious Tuesday.
Leave your Comments here
Dr Oyaks is an oral health care blogger at Ghanahealthnest.com, a fully qualified practicing dental surgeon with a Ghanaian blood and a Nigerian mind. She has a passion for teaching and sharing oral health knowledge because it all starts in the mouth, Healthy mouth, Healthy body. Her life goal is to stay connected to the vine, stay gorgeous & stay professional. See more at www.DrOyaks.me