Healthy Mouth Healthy Body

Concerns Unique To Kids

There's nothing more contagious than the laughter of young children; it doesn't even matter what they're laughing about. This is the age group which is probably the toughest to handle as a parent, starting from the 'Terrible Twos".This is the time when the child begins to form its identity in relation with its surroundings and people.Good and bad habits are most easily picked up in this age group and therefore parents have to be extra alert.

This is also the time for teething, believed to be a nightmare by most parents. A time when child learns to walk, falls, and walks again. A time to visit play-school and learning to speak. All these important first-time events occur in this age group.

When a child loses a tooth too early, there are chances that the permanent teeth can push into the empty space not allowing other adult teeth to grow when they come in. This makes the teeth crooked or crowded. Infants are always at the risk of getting tooth problems and therefore they should get better oral care to protect their teeth for the future. IDA recommends that parents should take their children to the dentist regularly after their first birthday and at regular intervals thereafter.

  • The First Brush

The risk of tooth decay appears as soon as your child is around six months old. This process of decay in infants and toddlers is referred as ‘Baby Bottle Tooth Decay’, which usually occurs in the upper front teeth. However, there are chances that other teeth may be affected as well. In fact, the severity of tooth decay in infants and toddler is such that their teeth cannot be saved and therefore needs to be extracted.

The bright side of this situation is that tooth decay is preventable. Most kids have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are three years of age and as they grow their jaws develop allowing space for more teeth.

  • Cleaning Your Child’s Teeth

It is important to clean your baby’s mouth in the first few days after birth. You can do that by wiping the gums using a clean washcloth or moist gauze pad. Tooth decay can occur instantly after the teeth appear. Use a child-size toothbrush and water to brush the teeth of your child. In most cases, the first four front-side teeth develop when your child is around 6 months of age. In some cases, the initial tooth appears only after 12 or 14 months.

For children older than 2 years, brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure they spit out the toothpaste. (Ask your child's dentist or physician if you are considering using fluoride toothpaste before age 2). IDA recommends that until you ’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child's teeth twice a day with a child- size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily. To know the correct method to brush your baby's teeth, visit your dentist today.

If your children are above age 2, you can use pea-sized flouride-based toothpaste to brush their teeth. In case your child is not 2 years old you can ask your child’s dentist to recommend the right toothpaste. IDA recommends that you brush the teeth of your child, until your child is comfortable brushing independently.

  • Teething

Most newborns do not have visible teeth, as teeth begin to appear only about six months after birth. In the initial few years, all 20 baby teeth will eventually push through the gums and by the age of 3 most children have their full set of teeth. The front side teeth appear in the first six months, but in some cases it can take as long as 12 to 14 months. This stage can be quite discomforting for the newborns as they become fussy, irritable and sleepless and in some cases lose their appetite or drool extensively.

However, mild fever, diarrhea and rashes are not the symptoms for a teething baby. If your child is suffering from diarrhea or fever you need to immediately consult your physician. Generally, your child may have tender or sore gums when the initial teeth erupt. To soothe your child gently rub their gums softly with a clean finger, cool spoon or a moist gauze pad. You can also get a clean teething ring that your child can chew. Your dentist or pediatrician may recommend a pacifier as well.

Benzocaine products are not suitable for children under 2 years of age and therefore IDA recommends that parents consult their healthcare professionals before buying such products for their children. It is recommended that parents should take their child to the dentist for initial checkup after the first tooth appears, but only after the child is a year old.

  • Pacifiers

Babies usually have a strong sucking reflex and most parents make use of pacifiers because they want to keep their baby comfortable and at the same time get some break from constant parenting. There are many benefits of using pacifiers and therefore they are usually recommended for new mothers.

Here we take a quick look at some of the benefits of using pacifiers:

-Protection against SIDS: SIDS also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome can lead to major health concerns. Using pacifiers can ensure that your baby gets good sound sleep. However, it is recommended not to put the pacifier back in the baby’s mouth once asleep.

-Comfort: Pacifiers are generally meant to calm down a fussy baby. Hence, parents should always keep a pacifier handy to comfort their crying or colicky baby.

-Suck Reflex: Pacifiers help in satisfying the suck reflex. It prevents the baby from sucking his or her own thumb.

Should you really use a Pacifier?

-Increases Ear Infections: As per the study reported in Pediatrics, pacifiers can increase ear infections by 40%. The report indicates that extensive sucking of pacifiers can lead to Acute Otitis Media (AOM).

-Interference with Breast Feeding: A baby can get confused between mother’s nipple and a pacifier if pacifiers are introduced too early and often.

-Pacifier Dependent: Similarly, parents can often misunderstand by offering pacifier to a baby when in real the baby needs nutrition-based sucking for food.

-Develop Tooth and Speech Conditions: Sucking pacifiers extensively can impact tooth alignment or delay speech.

IDA recommends not to use pacifiers dipped in honey, sugar, juice or sweetened drinks as that can lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay can also happen when cavity causing bacteria passes from saliva of the mother/caretaker to infant’s mouth. Consult your dentist to know more about whether you should use a pacifier or not.