Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 12:08 pm

Cape-based dentist and OTC Pharma consultant, Dr Marc Sher answers all your pressing questions on caring for your baby’s teeth and gums.

Q: How do I ensure that my newborn will have healthy teeth and gums?
A: Breastfeeding will make your newborn strong. The action of sucking and swallowing is very important for your baby as it helps promote the growth of the jaw and face bones. ‘Milk teeth’, or the primary dentition, start erupting from 6-8 months after birth. By the time your baby is three years old, all her milk teeth should have erupted.
Expect a total of 20 teeth in the upper and lower jaw. Looking after these teeth is crucial for the preparation of her adult teeth.

Q: How do I keep my baby’s gums and emerging teeth clean? Do I have to brush every day?
A: As soon as the first tooth appears, start brushing with a small amount of baby approved toothpaste, using either a cloth around your finger or a very small toothbrush.
Brushing once a day is sufficient for the first two years, thereafter brushing should be done in the morning and at night.

Q: My baby is up all night from teething pain and often has a fever. When do I need to take him to the doctor?
A: Teething isn’t considered to be a ‘serious’ problem, and all babies will experience teething to some extent. There are certain symptoms associated with teething like loss of sleep, restlessness, fever, diarrhea and skin rashes. If any of these symptoms become excessive and don’t subside, there could be other causes so it’s important to visit the doctor.

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Q: My baby loves sucking and chewing on biltong when she’s teething. Is it okay to give her food to relieve the pain or should I replace biltong with teething rings?
A: Babies will try to put anything in their mouths to ease the teething pain, so it’s always best to use approved teething products. Store them in the fridge (never use the freezer); the cold will help to further relieve the pain.

Q: What type of toothpaste should I buy for my baby?
A: All major toothpaste manufactures offer toothpastes that are suitable for babies. Colgate, for example, makes toothpaste for babies that’s specified for 0 – 2 years old.
These toothpastes contain no fluoride at all so they are safe if your baby swallows them.
From age two and up, toothpastes will include some fluoride but in a low dosage. Make sure to check the product label and ensure the toothpaste is suitable for babies.

Click here for more on teething.