Here are some important things you need to know about your baby’s first tooth. Ready? Read on.
Significance of baby’s teeth
Baby’s teeth have importance for its health because teeth are used to chew, to smile and to speak. The functions of the teeth have great impact on the child’s health. Baby’s teeth occupy space in the jawbone, where permanent teeth are growing and will come out after temporary teeth are lost. If temporary teeth are lost prematurely, then permanent teeth which are still underneath may drift in the empty space and affect the available room for all teeth which may make teeth crowded or teeth may develop crooked.
Arrival of first tooth
The first tooth is an exciting event not only in the life of the baby but also for the parents. It is an important milestone in baby’s life. Babies cut their first tooth at about 6 months, but there are babies who don’t get their first tooth till they are a year old. In general, most babies cut their teeth between 6 to 12 months. The timing of appearance of the first tooth is hereditary and usually runs in the family.
Exploring through mouth
Children experiment and experience the world around them through their mouth. Parents associate the habit of babies to put anything and everything in their mouth with appearance of first tooth. These are two different things. Mouth is their most developed organ, and babies use it to explore the world. Some babies are born with a tooth called natal tooth, which eventually must be pulled off because it can interfere with breast or bottle feeding and the development of deciduous or temporary teeth. When the first tooth cuts through, the babies may feel a certain discomfort or need to bite into something to press their upper and lower jaws together.
Almost always, the lower front teeth, called the lower central incisors, are the first to appear, followed by the upper central incisors.
Sometimes you find babies in an unpleasant mood while teething. The gums become sore and the urge to bite into something to soothe the discomfort is strong in the babies who are cutting their first tooth. Teething may cause slight soreness in the gums around the area where teeth are coming through and it may look swollen. In some cases, babies are seen drooling a little more than normal. There are a few ways with which you can help soothe the distress in the gums. A solid, clean plastic ring between the gums helps easing the irritation. Massaging the gums with clean fingers or giving clean wet or dry frozen wash cloth also helps ease pain. Avoid using teething biscuits. With saliva, the biscuits get soft and there is a danger of choking, if baby gulps a big chunk of it while chewing on it. Many teething biscuits contain sugar or salt which is not healthy for such a small baby. Many times, parents find teething babies slightly feverish. If the fever is about 100 F, then it could be infection or some illness. You must talk to your paediatrician or family physician if you find the baby very uncomfortable and very cranky. He may prescribe acetaminophen or ibuprofen depending baby’s age, 6 months or older. It is advisable to get the correct dose in millilitres (ml) depending on the age and weight of the baby. Some children however sail through teething time, smoothly, without any problems.
This is a mineral which is naturally found in water, plants, soil, rocks and air. It is an important element for bones and teeth which makes it strong. Fluoride helps building enamel, the outer layer of teeth which in turn prevents cavities and gum disease. In many cities, fluoride is added to the tap water. If not, then try to give supplements in consultation with your paediatrician. At 6 months give little water in a straw cup or sipper for the baby when you start weaning the baby to solid food if your tap water has added fluoride in it.
Use of teething implements
Avoid using any tools to lessen the discomfort or easing pain during teething. Teething gels and tablets contain plant poison belladonna and benzocaine. These two chemicals are used to numb the pain, but they have side effects and should not be used. Avoid using amber teething necklaces also. Necklaces pose a risk of strangulation when placed around the neck, and is a potential choking hazard. We do not know for sure about its benefits.
Taking care of the baby’s teeth
Brush baby’s teeth twice a day. Once your baby has even one tooth, put a tiny amount of paste on the baby brush and brush the tooth. Make sure that the baby does not go to sleep for the night with milk or juice bottle in the mouth. See that before you tuck in the baby for the night, you have wiped his mouth with a clean wet wash cloth. Brush the teeth with a toothpaste as much as a rice’s grain. Do the same when you give a first feed in the morning. When your child is 3 years old, he should be able to hold the brush and use it with a pea sized amount of toothpaste. He should also be taught to spit out the paste and clean the mouth with water. Till your child is 6 years, this should be done by the adult. You should supervise brushing of teeth till the child is about 7 or 8. Brushing teeth requires eye hand coordination, which comes with age and ability. If you take proper care of baby’s teeth, they will be less prone to cavities. Oral hygiene is important not only for dental problems, it reduces the risks for other ailments also.
Baby’s first visit to the dentist
It is a good idea to introduce your baby to the dentist and to his office. The dentist will make friends with your child and it will help in building a positive relationship which will be of use in later years when your child will require dental help during childhood and youth. Even before the first tooth erupts, your child should be taken to the dentist’s office. He should be made familiar with the dentist’s chair. Your paediatric dentist will see if there the teeth are developing normally, or if any guidance is needed for the teeth to come out properly. If you do not have any paediatric dentist in your area, then you can ask your medical practitioner to suggest one.
The dentist also will help in guidance for thumb sucking and its effect on teeth alignment.