Taking care of your baby’s oral health is your responsibility. As soon as your baby comes into this world, you must take certain steps to care for their gums and emerging teeth. That’s because it is during childhood that kids adopt bad dental habits that can cause serious issues like cavities, toothache, plaque, and crooked teeth, in the future.
There’s no denying that good dental health is important throughout your life, but childhood is a little more critical. Baby teeth are the forerunners to your child’s permanent teeth. It is at this time that you must pay more attention to see if your child has picked up certain dental habits that aren’t good for him/her.
Make note of these habits that can take a toll on your baby’s dental health:
“This habit interferes with jaw development, the shape and roof of the mouth, and the growth of teeth. The child may require braces. He/she can have speech impediments, while trying to pronounce d’s and t’s,” shares Dr Prashant Moralwar, consultant paediatrician, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, Mumbai, with HealthShots.
When a baby is born, their mouth is sterile. It means that there is no bacteria present. But within a few days after birth, the baby will start to pick up bacteria from the saliva of the people they are in close contact with, particularly the mother. Studies show that isn’t a good idea. In fact, this can cause cavities in babies.
Many babies have a habit of sleeping comfortably at night, while drinking bottled milk. But putting a baby to sleep with a bottle can harm their teeth by leading to tooth decay, pain, and infection in the mouth. Remember never to put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice.
Brushing is the first and most essential step towards good dental hygiene. When your baby gets teeth, brush them with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste. Do not skip brushing your baby’s teeth, and at the same time, do not over brush or brush them too hard, as that may damage the enamel and increase dental sensitivity.
Dr Moralwar says, “If the child is eating candies, drinking fizzy drinks, or fruit juices daily, he/she can have teeth sensitivity, teeth staining, and loss of proper mouth function.”
Avoid giving gummy snacks and foods to your child that may stick and stay on the teeth for a long time. Otherwise, try and brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day, and after each meal or snack, if possible. If brushing between meals is not possible, at least rinse their mouth with water several times.
As babies adjust to the teething process, they may begin to grind their teeth, either while they are awake or during their sleep. Teeth grinding — formally known as bruxism — is a fairly common issue. Grinding can lead to increased sensitivity and even tooth loss. It is a complex problem in kids and you may require a specialist’s help to treat it.
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For many toddlers, toy use is focused more on chewing rather than playing. When a child begins chewing on plastic and other materials, multiple problems may occur. One of the biggest concerns is the loss of teeth or even damage to teeth in certain cases. So, keep an eye on your child.
“Regular check-ups help children prevent teeth problems. Do not skip them and schedule an appointment as soon as possible,” says Dr Moralwar.
All these dental habits can spoil your baby’s milk teeth and harm them. So, it is better to change these habits immediately.
Clean your newborn’s gums with a soft, clean washcloth or moist gauze. This keeps bacteria to a minimum.
“Make sure that your child uses a toothbrush recommended by the doctor, and has their teeth brushed twice a day,” says Dr Moralwar.
This not only exposes your child’s teeth to sugar, but can also put him/her at risk of ear infections and choking.
See to it that your child is not given chocolates, candies, sweets, and ice creams, says Dr Moralwar.
As your kid grows, plan a dental health routine and regular dental check-ups are a must!