Parents usually associate teething with the stuff nightmares are made of—teething usually means little sleep, both for baby and mum and dad, and is a time where your little angel turns into a cranky, screaming monster.
What parents sometimes forget is that teething is very important in terms of setting your child up for a lifetime of good dental health, and positive dental care routines. Although they fall out, baby teeth need to be cared for as much as adult teeth. After all, baby teeth play an important role in guiding our adult teeth into place.
Teething usually occurs from about four months onwards; although this is a very fluid line so don’t be concerned if your child’s teeth erupt a bit earlier or later.
How to Cope With Teething
Unfortunately, teething is a painful, unavoidable part of life. There simply isn’t a magic cure for the problems that are associated with teething, but there are a few things you can do to make the process a little easier. The reason that babies become so unsettled during teething is that their gums become very tender and sore during the eruption process, you can alleviate the pain by:
- Massaging their gums with your finger
- Providing a cold teething ring
- Rubbing the gums with a non-aspirin teething gel
Babies are more susceptible to infections during the teething phase, so it’s important that you maintain a high-level of hygiene whenever you’re touching their gums.
Cleaning Your Child’s Teeth and Gums
You can start cleaning your child’s gums before their first tooth comes through. To do this, simply use a clean face washer or piece of gauze, and then dampen it before gently rubbing it along your baby’s gums. You should begin brushing their teeth as soon as the first tooth pops out. Don’t use toothpaste before 18 months of age, unless directed to do so by your dentist. To clean teeth use a cloth or a small, baby toothbrush and:
- Put your baby into a position where he or she feels comfortable, and you can see their entire mouth
- Rest his or her head against your body and hold their chin in your hands
- Clean using soft, circular motions
- Clean the back of the teeth and the gum line by lifting up his or her lips
Creating a Regular Dental Care Routine
The harder you work to make taking care of your baby’s teeth part of your daily routine, the easier it will be to make them take control of their dental care later on in life.
Bringing babies along to dentist visits and getting them acclimatised to the environment will make their first visit far easier for you and far less frightening for them. You need to normalise a visit to the dentist or it may become a constant fight to ever get them to go to their check-ups.
The same goes for brushing their teeth; if you neglect to brush their teeth every time they kick up a fuss, you’re setting yourself up for years of fights and expensive dental bills.
Dental Care and Food
Babies can get dental cavities too, so not only is it important keep their teeth and gums clean, it’s also important to monitor what they drink. Leaving a baby with a bottle of milk overnight can expose their soft-teeth to too much sugar, which can result in cavities. Always take the bottle away from your child after they have fallen asleep to prevent this from happening.
Breaking Sucking Habits
Thumb sucking is normal in young babies and using a dummy is a good way to keep them calm. You need to be wary of the fact that sucking (on either a thumb or a dummy) can cause problems for tooth development. So, it’s important you break the habit of sucking well before the first adult teeth appear, usually around five to six years of age. Failure to break this habit could mean extensive and expensive orthodontic treatment to correct irregularities in the jaw and teeth as a result of excessive sucking.
While teething can be a very difficult time, instead of dwelling on the issues that can arise, instead look at it as a time where you can put steps in place to ensure your child has a lifetime of excellent dental routines. Put in the effort early, and you’ll save yourself from battles during toddlerhood and early-adolescence.
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