Saturday 5 July 2014

Past post: top tips for caring for baby's teeth

There's always something new to learn when babies are concerned and the old adage that they don't come with a manual is true. We need as much help as possible to help us manoeuvre the mummy minefield and my main source of information is from the NHS email subscription I signed up to when pregnant and of course, you lovely people on Twitter and in the blogosphere.

As there's no better advice than the advice from one mum to another and since I began this blog, I vowed to share my experiences so hopefully I can help other mums navigate everything from weaning to walking (I'm yet to experience the latter with Ethan!).

Recently, I shared the teething troubles my little man has been going through and it's become one of my most popular posts of late, so it seems I'm not the only one who needs advice on the various stages our little ones go through.

Now this may sound bad, but I didn't have a clue about how to care for Ethan's teeth. He has one and a half teeth on the bottom row at the moment so I started thinking when I should start brushing them. They seem so small and insignificant, I just didn't realise that as soon as they appear, you should be cleaning those tiny toothy pegs twice a day. Naughty mama.

So, I've been reading up and thought that other mums may appreciate a post of top teeth tips:

1. Clean twice a day, every day, as soon as a tooth comes through. This will help baby get used to this daily part of their routine and will keep their mouth and teeth nice and healthy. First thing in the morning and after their last feed, if possible, is best.

2. Buy a soft, small toothbrush. There's plenty of toothbrush choice available for 0-2 years old, all of which should have soft, round-ended bristles and a small, angled head. Replace the toothbrush every three months, or sooner if it's looking a bit worn.

3. Choose a low fluoride toothpaste. Again, there's lots of baby friendly toothpastes available in Boots or larger supermarkets, all of which will be low in fluoride - the active ingredient which helps prevent tooth decay but can be harmful if too much is swallowed.

4. Keep it bland. Choosing mild toothpastes as opposed to flavoured options, such as strawberry, will help your baby understand that this isn't food, so as they grow up, they won't be tempted to 'eat' the paste.

5. Use sparingly. When baby is young, they won't be able to spit the toothpaste out after you've brushed their teeth, so only use a dot of paste no bigger than a grain of rice each time you clean their teeth. As they get older, you can encourage them to start spitting it out.

6. Brush in circles. Brush each tooth with small, gentle circular movements and try to focus on where the tooth meets the gum. It may be tricky, but if you do this slowly, you're less likely to upset their tender gums.

7. Let them join in. If your little one squirms or refuses to let you clean their teeth, you could try giving them a brush to hold themselves whilst you do it, so they feel involved. And try cleaning your teeth in front of them too, so they can see it's normal and to peak their interest.

8. Register at a dentist. The experts advise that babies who have teeth should be taken to the dentist at the earliest opportunity so perhaps at your next appointment, take them along so they get familiar with the environment and to register them at the practice.

Did you know...?
> Baby's will eventually have 20 milk teeth, which will come through by the time they are around two and a half years old.

> Toothpastes made specifically for 0-3 years have no more than 1,000 parts per million of fluoride and are best for little ones.

> NHS dental treatment is free for under-18's.

The NHS rough guide to teething stages:

  • Bottom front teeth (incisors) – these are the first to come through, at around five to seven months
  • Top front teeth (incisors) – these come through at around six to eight months
  • Top lateral incisors (either side of the top front teeth) – these come through at around nine to 11 months
  • Bottom lateral incisors (either side of the bottom front teeth) – these come through at around 10-12 months
  • Molars (back teeth) – these come through at around 12-16 months
  • Canines (towards the back of the mouth) – these come through at around 16-20 months
  • Second molars – these come through at around 20-30 months

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