Toothbrushes: Which One is Best For You
Baby teeth vary in size, shape, and location in the jaws. These differences allow the teeth to work together to better help babies to chew, speak and smile. They also facilitate the development of the facial shape and profile. They erupt in various times after birth. Most babies are born without teeth. By the time they are between 4 and 7 months of age, the first tooth erupts. The first teeth that poke through the gums are usually the central incisors located on the bottom front. Rarely babies are born with one or two lower front teeth. Those teeth are called natal teeth. If the teeth erupt in the first month of life, then they are called neonatal teeth. If the natal and neonatal teeth are not loose and do not affect feeding, then no actions are needed for the teeth. But in some occasions, the natal or neonatal teeth can have the risk of accidental aspiration due to looseness, then extraction may be required.
In normal cases, symptoms of teething (teeth erupting through the gums) can start as early as 3 months of age, but the teeth will not erupt for another month or more. Symptoms of teething include pain, drooling, fussiness, biting their fingers and low-grade fever.
All twenty baby (or primary) teeth come in by the time your child is two or three years old. The teeth that will come in last are usually the second primary molars (the last teeth at the back). For the sequence of baby teeth eruptions, see the chart below.
If your child is getting his or her teeth and seems to be in pain, you can do the following:
- Massage and rub the gums with the back of a small, cool spoon.
- Provide the child with a teething ring (cold preferred but not frozen) to bite on but make sure the materials are safe and sturdy – do not use materials containing phthalates (to soften the plastic) and bisphenol A (BPA)
- If your child is still unhappy, your dentist, pharmacist or doctor can suggest an over-the-counter medicine to ease the pain.
There are certain things that you should not do to your child or use:
- Teething necklaces and beads are not safe because they can become a choking or strangulation hazard.
- Check the teethers to make sure there are no mold growing on them. Clean the teethers constantly with mild soap and rinse well with water and let them dry between uses.
- Do not use the painkiller that can be rubbed on your child’s gums. Your child may swallow it.
- Do not freeze the teethers. A frozen teether is too hard and cold for babies to chew on.
- Do no use liquid-filled teething rings.
- Do not give your child teething biscuits. They may have sugar added.
- Do not ignore a fever. Getting new teeth does not make babies sick or give them a fever. If your child has a fever, check with your doctor.
Baby teeth are very important teeth to be kept clean and healthy until the time to be replaced with permanent adult teeth. The reasons are that the baby teeth can get cavities much easier than adult teeth. The also can get abscess much readily if the cavities were not treated early on. Besides helping to chew, speak and smile, they also maintain the spaces and jaw form for adult teeth to erupt into the correct positions and alignment with the other teeth.
Children can also get gum disease, just like adults. It happens when the gums that hold our teeth in place get infected. Babies and children also have a higher than usual carbohydrate diets. Daily brushing is very important to avoid cavities and gum disease.
Just like adults, babies and children should brush their teeth before they go to bed at night. For infants with only the front teeth, wiping the upper and lower front teeth with a wet clean cloth/gauze are necessary every time they have milk and before lying down to sleep. If not, the milk will pool around the upper front teeth and start the decaying process that can potentially wipe out all the front teeth. Conditions like this is called baby bottle caries – rampant baby front teeth decay.
For older kids, teeth brushing with flossing would be necessary. A small soft baby toothbrush should be used to brush their teeth. The rule is that the parents should follow up on their brushing at bedtime to make sure the kids have thoroughly brushed their teeth clean, until they are about 6 years old. Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended to be used in conjunction with brushing in most cases unless the daily drinking water has over 1 ppm of fluoride. The size of the toothpaste is as small as a rice grain. Kids are encouraged to spit the toothpaste out after brushing but if they swallow most of the paste for that small size, there has not been evidence of harm to the children.
If your child’s gums bleed, do not stop brushing. If the gums are always swollen, sore or bleeding, there may be a serious problem. You should take your child to the dentist.
At Affinity Dental Care, we love to help our kid patients to optimize their oral health.