Monday, October 16, 2006

Caring For Baby Teeth

Do you know what you do now and how you take care of the teeth of your baby will affect their smile during their lifetime? We all know that teeth are important. They are important because they allow us to eat a good diet; they allow our jaw to form correctly; give the face the form and even assist in the formation of proper speech. Tooth decay in babies can lead to infections, malnutrition and premature loss of baby teeth, which in turn will harm future adult teeth. Even if your baby is still too small to have teeth yet, you should start now by cleaning their gums.

You can do this by laying the head of your baby in your lap, facing you. With the mouth open and using a damp baby wash cloth or some gauze, gently but firmly run the washcloth or gauze over the gum area of the baby. Just as we encourage our children to brush after every meal, this too, should be done after every meal.

Teething is a not so fun time in the life of every child and their parents. Teething refers to the time when baby teeth are beginning to poke through the sensitive skin of the mouth. Usually, teething begins between 6 months and 24 months of age. The pain is very real and while some children are not bothered by teething much, for others, it is a time of much pain and irritability.

Symptoms of teething can come in a variety of ways. Crying for no apparent reason; fever; increased amount of finger sucking and chewing; increased irritability; increased amounts of saliva and drooling; tender and swollen gums; redness or flushed look to cheeks other areas around the mouth area; loss of appetite; restlessness and pulling on the ear (this may also indicate an ear infection). To alleviate the pain that comes with teething, there are a few things you can do. You can massage the gums of your child with damp gauze or a clean baby wash cloth; you can allow your baby to chew on a chilled (never frozen) rubber teething ring (frozen articles can damage the gum area); or you can purchase over the counter medical ointment to dull or numb the painful area. It is not a good idea to offer your child teething biscuits as they promote tooth decay.

The first toothbrush that you purchase for you baby should have soft bristles and a small head that allows the brush to be used in and around the small mouth. It should be small enough to reach all parts of the inside of the mouth easily and comfortably. Look at the drugstore, talk to the people that work there and look on the packages to see what is suggested. Be sure to toss out the toothbrush after three months of use because the bristles begin to spread and the brush is not as effective as it once was.

The toothpaste you should buy should contain low amounts of fluoride (until they begin to get permanent teeth). Your best bet is to talk to your dentist and see what type he or she suggests for your baby. When you start brushing the teeth of your child, you will want to begin with a pea sized amount of toothpaste. The teeth and gums should be brushed thoroughly around every tooth and over all gum surfaces.

When should you start taking your child to the dentist? It is a good idea to start taking them along with you when you have an appointment. This will help them realize that the dentist is not scary and will help them become familiar with the dentist. Most dentists will not start seeing the child until their teeth begin to appear.

Other ways to protect teeth is to limit the amount of acidy, sugar and fizzy drinks that are offered. If you must give your child fruit juice, water it down(1 part juice to five parts water), but be sure not to give fluids such as these in their bottles at night as it can sit on and decay new teeth.

With a lot of work, you can start your child off to a mouthful of wonderful teeth!

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