Babies typically start teething when they are around 6 months old. But many even sprout their first teeth as early as 3 months or as late as 12months. A few babies are also born with a tooth. This is quite normal and nothing to be worried about. By the time your baby is about 3 years old he will have all 20 primary teeth. The lower front teeth usually come in first.
Just like teething time varies vastly, teething experiences too are different. For some babies, teething can be a breeze. But for some, it can be quite stressful and painful.
Here are a few ways to make baby’s teething experience less painful:
· One of the first few things you can do before your baby’s pearly whites begin to show up is clean his gums. Wrap wet gauze or a thin muslin cloth around your index finger and massage baby’s gum gently for about a minute, without putting too much pressure. It’s a good idea to make this a routine habit. This will have a soothing affect and reduce teething troubles.
· Giving baby, teething rings to chew on is also a good remedy to relieve teething pains.
· Giving something cold to drink can offer baby relief from achy gums.
· In the event, your baby needs medication to relieve pain, make sure you buy safe drugs that are age specific.
How to brush baby’s teeth, once they start making an appearance
There is no hard and fast rule that you have to start brushing with a toothbrush. You could use a clean piece of guaze or a muslin cloth. Wrap this around your index finger and smear a small amount of fluoride toothpaste and rub baby’s teeth.
If you’re planning to brush with a toothbrush, make sure you buy a good, branded one with soft bristles and a small head.
A few thumb rules while brushing:
Brush gently: Use gentle strokes. Make sure not to hurt the baby. Brush both on the outside as well as the inside, to remove the bacteria.
Brush twice a day: Make it a habit right from the beginning to brush in the morning and before bedtime.
Use a tiny amount of toothpaste: Avoid too much fluoride. Smear lightly, as little as a grain of mustard.
Replace the brush every 2-3 months: If you notice that the bristles have ‘flowered’, it’s time to buy a new one.
What kind of toothpaste should be used?
Initially toothpaste isn’t necessary. A training toothpaste that is fluoride free is recommended until the age of three. This helps in cleaning and gets the child used to the sensation of a paste in the mouth. You can continue using this till the child is able to spit out the toothpaste.
Once the child is about 30-36 months, you could graduate to a regular children’s toothpaste containing mild amount of fluoride. Flouride is essential as it fights tooth decay and helps in strengthening of the teeth.
How much toothpaste should you use?
Do not use more than a pea-sized amount. Try and encourage the child to spit out the excess paste. However, if the child ingests small amounts of toothpaste, there is no cause for major worry. This is perfectly normal and will eventually stop with time. Learning to eliminate excess toothpaste will require practice and patience.
Protecting Baby’s Teeth
Taking care of baby’s teeth is important, as healthy teeth are vital to baby’s overall health. They help your baby chew food and form words and sounds when speaking. Teeth also affect the way your baby’s jaw grows.
Keeping your baby’s teeth healthy requires more than cleaning them. Here’ are some simple things you can do to protect and strengthen those pearly whites.
Minerals and Vitamins: The secret to strong and healthy teeth starts with the right diet. Make sure your baby gets enough calcium, phosphorous, fluoride and adequate doses of vitamins and minerals.
Cut the sugar: Sugar is one of the main causes of tooth decay. So avoid giving your baby sugary sweets and unhealthy snacks in between meals.
Limit juices: Fruit juices, squashes, flavoured milk are all high on sugar and can easily cause tooth decay. So don’t make them an everyday habit.
Include high protein and calcium foods like cheese, yogurt and fruits in your baby’s diet.
Wash down with water: Give water after every meal. Most infant foods easily wash off baby’s teeth with just a drink of water.
Break the night time bottle habit: Never put baby to bed with a bottle of milk (or juice). It may be a great remedy to soothe and comfort baby to sleep, but the milk deposits in between the teeth can erode baby’s brand new teeth and cause cavities.