Dr Jemma KE Hook is a Dentist and mum who can provide expert guidance on all things teething. You can follow her on Instagram @themummydentist for lots of useful nuggets of advice on caring for young children’s teeth and other parenting hacks!
When your baby gets their first teeth through it’s such a cute milestone! The milk set of teeth have many important functions such as chewing, speech, appearance and keeping space for adult teeth. So here are my 7 superstar tips for looking after baby teeth from the very start;
Start brushing as soon as the first tooth comes in - normally the lower front teeth erupt around 6 months of age (but it can vary by a few months). There will be 20 baby teeth in total.
Brush twice daily - brushing at bedtime and at one other time each day. Building this habit into the daily routine from the beginning makes life easier for both you and your baby. A good position for a young baby is to have them sat facing forward on your lap leaning into your chest. Or try whilst they are sat up supported in the bath.
Use a baby appropriate toothbrush with a small head, soft bristles and an easy grip handle. Most mainstream brands have suitably designed brushes. Apply aflat smearof fluoridated toothpaste - for ages 0-3 it should contain no less than 1000ppm of fluoride (this will be clear on the packaging).
Food choices - it is advised that during weaning savoury flavours such as green veg are introduced first. Babies don’t require sugar (or salt) adding to their food. Read the labels of baby food pouches carefully to check sugar content, especially fruit based ones. And ideally encourage your baby to feed from a spoon rather than a nozzle.
Drinking habits – for babies under 12 months stick to plain water or their usual milk (breast or formula). Fruit flavoured water or juices are not suitable and can easily damage baby tooth enamel. Whole cows’ milk can then be given as a drink from age 1. Water doesn’t need to be pre-boiled after 6 months of age. Introduce an open or free flow cup from 6 months upwards to protect teeth, promote a sipping action and aid your baby’s fine motor skills development.
Check up at the dentist - take your baby for an appointment before their 1st Birthday. Your family dentist can assess dental development and provide tailored advice and support. Plus it helps to acclimatise children to the dental environment from a young age.
Support your baby during teething - not all babies will experience symptoms during teething, some teeth may simply appear. However the main ways to ease teething-related pain are; soothing (such as cooled teething toys, frozen plain yoghurt popsicles or chilled fruit slices), distraction (teething aids can provide gentle counter pressure to massage the gums as baby chews them), pain medication if required and lots of comfort! If baby is drooling lots then wipe this away to prevent a rash on their delicate skin. A Cheeky Chomper's Neckerchew is great for both chewing away the pain and catching the dribble!
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Let’s face it – teething isn’t usually fun at any time of year, is it? But at Christmas time, we really want to make the most of enjoying the festivities, especially if it’s your little one’s first Christmas! We can’t do much to control when those little teeth decide to come through, but we can try to help ease their discomfort through some simple and practical ideas.