Last updated on Jan 19th, 2021 at 01:56 pm

Thereâ??s no question about it, every mom wants the best for her baby. But have you thought about your babyâ??s dental care? 

Dr Marc Sher, Cape-based dentist and OTC Pharma consultant, shares top tips every mom should know to ensure the optimal dental care of babies, from newborns to toddlers… 

The role of breastfeeding 

The action of sucking and swallowing is very important for your baby as it helps promote the growth of the jaw and face bones. 

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Teething and milk teeth 

Teething can be a difficult time for baby and mom! Donâ??t worry if your little one feels the cutting process of teething. Some of the symptoms of teething include a loss of sleep, reduced appetite, restlessness, temperature, skin rash, and diarrhoea. 

Babies will put anything in their mouths to relieve the pressure pain caused by teething. The most suitable aids are teething rings made of silicone and cooling dental sticks. Keep them in the fridge (never freezer) and the cool effect will help relieve the pain even further. 

â??Milk teethâ?? or the primary dentition start showing from the 6th-8th month after birth. By the time the child is three years old, he or she should have all their milk teeth – 20 teeth in the upper and lower jaw. Looking after the primary dentition is crucial for the preparation and reserving room for the permanent dentition. 

Brushing babyâ??s teeth 

As soon as the first teeth appear, they should be brushed. Using either a baby tooth brush or a clean cloth over your finger and toothpaste, brush the new teeth once a day (before bed). Do this for the first two years, after which brushing should be done twice daily â?? morning and night. 

When brushing your babyâ??s teeth, use circular movements along the sides of the teeth and a gentle scrubbing for the tops of the teeth. You only need to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. 

Remember to use good toothpaste formulated for babies – never use adult toothpaste! Toothpaste for babies and children contain a lower dose of fluoride than adult toothpaste. Overdosing on fluoride is very dangerous and since itâ??s difficult to determine the amount of fluoride a young child ingests as many of them swallow their toothpaste, make you only use toothpaste formulated for babies and children.  

When purchasing a toothbrush for your baby, look for one with the smallest head as possible, rounded soft bristles and thick firm grip.  

Teaching your toddler 

Once a toddler, encourage your child to brush his or her teeth on their own. Try and get them to brush in front of a mirror as this helps develop good techniques. 

Children will always follow what grown-ups do so let your child watch you brush your teeth. This will raise your childâ??s curiosity and make them eager to brush their own teeth! While dental floss is not important for your child at this stage, introduce them to it and set a good example by flossing your teeth in front of your child. 

Make the brushing experience interactive and part of the daily routine. You could use nursery rhymes or create games around brushing that help make the experience enjoyable for your little one. 

The importance of a healthy diet 

Diet is all important and limiting the amount of sugar is essential! The more natural the food, like fruit and vegetables, your child eats, the more hard chewing has to be done and the more thoroughly the teeth will clean themselves. 

A well balanced diet is vital and should include cereal, wholemeal products, fruit and vegetables (preferably raw or quickly blanched) yogurt, milk and cheese and little meat and fish on a regular basis with limited fats, oils and very little sweets.  

If you are going to give your child sweets, brush their teeth soon after. Also, avoid giving your child sweetened cool drink in bottles. When a child continuously drinks from the bottle, their teeth are always coated with the sweet fluid which prevents salvia from protecting the teeth and leads to rampant tooth decay. 

Introducing baby to the dentist 

I encourage mothers to bring their little ones in as early as two-and-a-half, just for five to 10 minutes to â??playâ?? in the chair and get used to the sights and smells.
 
Building trust between your child and the dentist is crucial, so when the time comes for that first filling or any other treatment, there is already that element of trust and a traumatic experience can be avoided.
 
For more information, visit www.otcpharma.co.za or call Dr Sher on 082 331 4811. 

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.