How I managed to keep my five-year-old’s teeth healthy and cavity-free
I write this because we should also be talking about dental hygiene of our babies as much as we discuss their feeding and diaper habits
We Indians care about everything the moment a baby is born. From being up-to-date with the vaccination chart to what wipes to use, to the clothes that are soft for the baby’s skin, we take extra care to see that our infant is comfortable.
But the one thing we all miss to care about is the baby's precious teeth! Reason? They’re not out yet. But that’s not how it should be. Doctors say that it is important to keep the baby’s gums (with or without teeth) and tongue clean to prevent harmful bacteria to breed in the baby’s mouth.
This is why I ensured that I followed good dental hygiene right from the beginning. Here are some steps that helped me keep my five-year-old daughter’s teeth healthy and cavity-free:
1. I always wiped the gums after feeds
While we think that babies have only milk for the first six months of their lives, it’s enough for harmful bacteria to ruin their soon-to-erupt teeth. This is why you should wipe your baby’s gums after every feed, in the morning and in the night.
You can use a clean, soft washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums. Just make sure you are careful enough to not be too vigorous while doing that.
2. I kept her away from sugary items, sticky foods
It’s not only about not letting your child eat chocolates and candies. Potato chips and cornflakes namkeen that you so lovingly give your child can be the culprit too. So can be your toddler’s favourite peanut chikki.
Crackers, potato chips and other starchy foods also tend to stick in the nooks and crannies of tooth surfaces. These sticky foods not only are loaded with carbs, they also stick in the tooth enamel and can be difficult to remove, which is why you should be brushing your baby’s teeth or at least rinsing his mouth with plain water after eating them.
3. I rinsed the mouth after eating/drinking
This is a must and should be done diligently. Make sure you develop the habit of rinsing your child’s mouth whenever he eats or drinks anything.
This would make sure that there is no harmful residue in the teeth for the bacteria to thrive on. For babies, wipe their gums with a damp wash cloth as explained above.
Continue reading on the next page to know why you should be ditching the night time bottle!
4. I slowly ditched the night bottle
When children fall asleep while having the bottle or while breast feeding, the milk remains in their mouth all night long.
Bacteria present in the mouth breaks sugar down into acid, causing tooth decay. This is commonly known as Nursing Bottle Syndrome and is a mistake that many mothers make.
To beat that, I started cleaning my babies gums every night with a damp cloth. Gradually I developed a habit of letting her have some water before she slept to make sure that the water washed off the harmful bacteria that the milk had left.
Slowly, I started weaning her off her night-time feeds and would give her milk way before her bedtime. Now that she's five I ensure that she has milk at least an hour before her sleep time and also rinses her mouth after having it.
5. I didn't wait for the milk teeth to fall off
Another bad habit that we Indian mums have is to wait for the milk teeth to fall off to go to the dentist for a check-up. This is a strict no-no as the baby teeth would decay and not only would they cause excruciating pain to your baby, they would infect the gums as well, which could harm the new teeth.
Continue reading on the next page to know why it is important to brush your baby's teeth in the night!
6. I brushed her teeth twice a day, especially in the night
As all Indians feel, I also thought that brushing in the morning is very important. But I was in for a shock when my dentist told me that it is more important for you to brush your baby's pearly whites in the night. You can even miss your morning brushing session if you do that religiously every night, she said.
Also after your toddler is done with his brushing, make sure you brush his teeth one last time for proper cleaning.
7. I visited a dentist regularly
As mentioned above, don't wait for the milk teeth to fall off to visit a dentist. I say that as I had a shocking experience when I took my two-and-a-half year old to the dentist.
The dentist found that one of her incisors was developing a cavity, but it was only superficial. Thank God we went to the dentist on time as he nipped the infection in the bud and also prevented further infection.
Teeth can start to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth and the sooner your dentist spots them, the lesser would be the pain and the chances of the infection to spread to the roots.
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