The right dental care right from the pre-natal stage can go a long way in ensuring a fine set of teeth for your little one. Here are the 10 commandments of Infant Dental Care.
1. Healthy, calcium-enriched diet at the pre-natal stage
Prenatal care is extremely important and often neglected. The baby’s teeth start developing while in the womb in the second and third trimester, hence, a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of calcium in extremely beneficial. Furthermore, good dental hygiene, followed by the mother during her pregnancy, will go a long way in good dental health of the little one
2. Delays in teeth eruption are normally not a cause of concern
Baby teeth or milk teeth normally start erupting from approximately the age of 6 months to 3 years. Delays however are normally not a cause of panic or concern.
Time-table for infant teeth eruption
1. lower central incisors-6 months
2. lower lateral incisors-7 month
3. upper central incisors-7 to 8 months
4. upper lateral incisors-9 to 10 months
5. lower first molars-12 to 14 months
6. upper first molars-14 to 16 months
7. lower canines-16 to 18 months
8. upper canines-18 to 20 month
9. lower second molars-20 to 24 months
10. upper second molars-24 to 30 months
3. Appropriate cleaning of teeth is a must
Till the time the baby has no teeth, it is sufficient to clean the gums with a soft, clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth. Gently massage the gums till no milk remains.
Once the first teeth make an appearance, start using a baby toothbrush, but continue cleaning the areas where there are no teeth with a damp cloth as earlier.
4. Breast milk-the best gift for your baby’s teeth
Breast milk is extremely beneficial for your baby’s teeth and prevents the occurrence of cavities. Avoid the bottle as much as you can.
5. Water before bedtime
Water is the best drink to end with, after milk, during bedtime. This prevents the formation of cavities in infants.
6. A strict NO to sugar and fruit juices
Tooth decay occurs when the teeth come in contact with sugar. The bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar and multiply and produce acid as a waste product. The acid attacks the teeth resulting in tooth decay. The most common cause in infants is milk bottle caries or baby bottle cavities due to the last sip of milk, fruit juices and other sweetened drinks remaining pooled in the baby’s mouth while asleep. This destroys the upper teeth and lower molars. Only the front lower teeth are protected with the tongue and hence remain cavity-free.
7. Skip the bottle
It’s best to transition your baby from the breast to a sippy cup at an appropriate age and then to a cup and spoon. This can go a long way in protecting your baby’s teeth.
8. Why milk teeth are so important?
Besides the obvious reasons like for eating, speaking and appearance; they maintain space in the jaw for the permanent teeth, which start erupting by the age of 6 years till 12 years and prevent crowding of the permanent teeth.
9. Regular dentist visits
The baby’s first dentist visit should be it at the age of one. Just a friendly, quick visit. Follow-up visits should happen every 6-12 months.
10. Introduce a fluoride toothpaste
Once your dentist recommends, you can introduce a fluoride toothpaste for you baby in very tiny quantities.
Hope this information is of help to you and your precious little one!!
This article has been written by Dr. Nisha Khushalani, B.D.S.(Bom.),Honorary Secretary, The Indian Association of Day Surgery,Senior Committee Member of A Ward Medical Association.
You can contact her on- Tel: 022-65233440