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Baby’s teeth: Do you know what to do with them?

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th September 2008 03:00 AM

WHEN it comes to looking after children’s teeth and gums, there are a few rules to follow.

WHEN it comes to looking after children’s teeth and gums, there are a few rules to follow.

By Fred Ouma

WHEN it comes to looking after children’s teeth and gums, there are a few rules to follow.

Diet: Limit sugary foods and acidic drinks to meal times.
Brushing: Teach your child how to brush their teeth using a low-fluoride toothpaste. Go over their teeth to ensure they are clean. Make brushing fun with games. Brush after every meal. If that is not possible, brush every morning and night.

Dentist visits: At their first birthday, schedule your child’s first dental visit to examine the mouth and check oral development. Make the visits routine.

Teething discomfort
When your baby’s milk teeth start appearing, usually they experience some discomfort. Here’s how to relieve it.

Clean your baby’s mouth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad two to three times daily.

Give your baby a teething ring to chew. The biting pressure relieves the discomfort. The ring should be big so that your child cannot swallow it and it should not break into small pieces.

Dental experts may recommend topical medicines for your baby’s sore gums. Use only medicines intended for this purpose and follow instructions.
Rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger.

First teeth, first chance of decay
Teeth house millions of bacteria in plaque, a sticky film that forms on teeth. Whenever we eat or drink anything sweet, these bacteria break the sugar down into acid, which causes decay. Therefore, as soon as your child’s teeth appear, it’s time to start protecting them.

Brush their teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Ask your dentist for the correct amount of fluoride for your child. The brushing will remove plaque and the fluoride will strengthen the enamel.

According to dentists, the only things you should put in your baby’s bottle are milk and water. This is because when a baby drinks from a bottle, the liquid swashes around their teeth and gums and any drink with sugar will increase the chance of decay.

Limit sugary snacks
Teeth are tough, perfectly shaped and come with their own defence mechanism – a layer of enamel.

However, when we eat sugar, the bacteria on our teeth turn it into acid, destroying the enamel causing decay. So to protect your child’s teeth from decay, limit the amount of sugar you give and how often you give it.

Encourage your children to stick to fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk and water between meals.
Children are not born with a sweet tooth, so do not encourage them to get it. Steer clear of biscuits, cakes and sugary drinks.

So what is acid erosion?
Fruit juice and fizzy drinks are often acidic. And if your child drinks a lot of them, the acid will erode the enamel making the teeth more vulnerable to decay. But there are some simple ways to avoid it:

Put only milk or water in bottles.
Always dilute fruit juice with water.
Restrict fizzy drinks and fruit juices to mealtimes. Between meals, give them milk or water.

Use a straw for fizzy drinks. This reduces the contact between the acid and the teeth.
Do not let your child swish drinks around in their mouths.

Wait at least an hour after your child has had an acidic drink before brushing their teeth.

After your children have brushed their teeth at night, only allow them to drink water. Otherwise, make it clear they have to brush their teeth again.

Young gums
Healthy gums are important for a healthy mouth, so pay as much attention to them as you do to teeth.

If plaque is not removed from the gum by regular brushing, it forms a solid layer called tartar. Tartar is too hard to remove with a toothbrush, so your dentist will need to do it.

Both plaque and tartar can make your child’s gums swollen, so they bleed when touched.

This is the start of gingivitis or gum disease. If you think your child might have gum disease, it is best to take them to the dentist.

Baby’s teeth: Do you know what to do with them?

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