Babies are usually born without any teeth, but within a few months, it soon becomes apparent that their teeth are about to make an appearance. A teething baby is not a happy baby. They gripe, grizzle and generally make everyone’s life a misery.
Once the emerging tooth has cut through the gums, the sun comes back out and everyone is happy once again. However, unless you take extra special care of a baby’s teeth, they are at risk of all kinds of dental problems (not to mention cavities) before their adult teeth come through. With this in mind, here are some tips to help you look after your baby’s teeth properly.
Start Brushing Baby’s Teeth
Baby teeth may not be your child’s permanent teeth, but they still need looking after. A baby’s teeth are important for many reasons. They help a baby chew his food once weaning begins, plus they help him make sounds in preparation for talking.
It is important to start brushing a baby’s teeth as soon as they appear. Use a baby-friendly toothbrush with a dab of baby toothpaste. Spend a few minutes each day brushing your baby’s teeth and letting him get used to the sensation. Once he is old enough to hold the brush, let him have a go himself – under close supervision of course.
Once your baby is eating solid foods and has several teeth, escalate tooth brushing to a twice-daily exercise. The sooner you create a routine, the faster it will become an established one. Do not forget to use fluoride toothpaste, as this gives your child’s teeth extra protection against cavities and plaque.
Beware of Sugary Drinks
Babies love the comfort of drinking milk or juice from a bottle, but sucking away at a bottle for too long is bad for their teeth. This is especially true if you give your baby a bottle at bedtime. Never leave a baby with a bottle in his cot or bed. He will probably fall asleep sucking on the bottle, which means his mouth will be bathed in sugary juice for hours. Milk is not much better either, because it contains lots of natural sugar.
Instead, if your baby can’t bear to be without a bottle at bedtime, fill it with water. He will probably decide that water is not much fun and ditch the habit pretty quickly.
Monitor Sweet Foods and Drinks
Babies and toddlers love sweet foods. The problem is that sweet foods are not good for a baby’s teeth, so it is a good idea to avoid giving your baby too many cookies and sugar-laden foods. Fruit is also high in natural sugars, so be careful how much fruit you feed your baby and toddler.
Tap water is fluoridated in some areas, so drinking tap water will help to protect your child’s teeth. If your local water does not contain fluoride, be sure to use fluoride toothpaste and don’t forget to take baby for regular checkups at the dentist to monitor his teeth as they develop.