Dental care for babies, infants, toddlers

Are you a parent confused about what toothbrush, toothpaste to use for your baby? Are you unsure how you need to brush? Are you apprehensive about your toddler’s thumb sucking? Perhaps the iron stains or the cavities? Read on for answers to all the frequently asked questions:

1) What is the right age to visit a Dentist? And what is the right age to brush my toddler’s teeth?

You ideally should visit a Dentist as soon as you can see the first tooth in the child’s mouth, and this is also the time you must start brushing their teeth.  After which there should be 6-8 monthly checkups irrespective of any cavity or not in the mouth. Post 3 years a prophylactic fluoride applications should be done as per your dentists recommendations.

2) What toothbrush should I use for my baby?

An actual toothbrush with a small head (lot of brands available in the market) These are called baby toothbrushes because they have a small head with softer bristles. Please refrain from using Silicon toothbrushes, finger brushes etc. (They attract more plaque and food and don’t really clean the teeth).

3) What toothpaste should I use for my toddler?

Most pediatricians recommend using a fluoride free toothpaste for babies below the age of 2 years. After the age of 2 years fluoride toothpaste should be introduced.

Although American Academy of pediatrics recommends switching to a toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste as soon as the teeth start to come in, the key is to use a very small smear of toothpaste – no more than the size of a grain of rice. (These guidelines are a 2014 update to former recommendations which had suggested fluoride-free toothpaste until the age of 2)

4) What toothpaste should my baby be using, Oral B, Colgate, Pepsodent, Sensodyne , Chicco, Kidodent?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.  Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

5) How should mothers brush their kid’s teeth?

Tilt the child’s head towards you, so that you get a full view of your child’s mouth. Your child can either be sitting on your lap or standing, so you face the back of their head. Then start brushing in circular motions. Encourage the child to spit the toothpaste out rather than swallowing it.You can make it more fun by singing songs, making it like a playtime etc.

Demonstration - brushing technique

Demonstration – brushing technique

6) How to combat teething problem?

Nibbling on cold carrots, breast-milk popsicles, cold and frozen bananas, frozen pizza crusts and Homeopathy medicines like BC21…they all work like magic. When teething a small percentage of kids also get what is called a drool rash which usually takes 3-6 days to clear up on its own with some moisturizer application and wiping the drool with a soft muslin cloth.

7) Breast milk and cavities?

Breast milk does not cause cavities, it is actually a myth .Good oral hygiene i.e. brushing upon waking up and before going to bed in the night should be a ritual to avoid any cavities. Although there is no direct link between night feeds and cavities but it is advisable to night wean after the age of 12-14 months and day feeds can continue as long as the mother and baby wish. Pacifiers with honey,sugar etc should be avoided at all costs as they will definitely cause decay.

8) Iron stains and white spots?

It is recommended to visit a dentist when you see any discoloration like black or white spots

White spots could be an early indication of a cavity, black spots could be due to iron supplements or an actual cavity. So iron will stain less:-

1) If you give her food immediately after the supplement

2) Dilute it with water, or better still to put it in the porridge, will definitely stain less.

3) Removal right now only with brushing 2 times in a day.

4) Difficult to follow but if you can brush after the supplement it will be great.

5) We recommend iron in the day time morning better and food is must after.

9) What if my toddler has a tooth injury and it pops out?

The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist.                      

10) How important are my baby’s milk teeth?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

11) How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.

 12) What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen (e.g., Children’s Tylenol) for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. Finally, see a dentist as soon as possible.

13) Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a baby’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.


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