By Dr G Sowjanya
The first three years in a child’s life play an incredible role in their growth be it physical or mental development. While most parents pay attention to the overall physical and mental progress, dental care is still often ignored among Indian families.
Teething is a very important milestone in dental care. Teething is defined as eruption of teeth for the first time that usually starts between the ages of 6 to 7 months. The first teeth to show up in a baby’s mouth are usually the lower or upper front teeth. Teething causes its own share of discomfort and it may start as early as 4 to 5 months.
The gums around emerging teeth may be tender and swollen making the child feel irritable.
By 3 years of age, the child should have developed a complete set of 20 milk teeth that play a prominent role in the development of speech, chewing and mastication. These teeth also act as a guide for the permanent teeth at later years.
Pay attention to this primary set of dentition to rule out dental related issues in future. These days it has become a common occurrence even among children below the age of four to undergo various dental treatments like filling the cavities, cleaning and at times painful root canal treatments.
Few precautionary steps will always save both parents and child from visiting a dentist and get rid of painful procedures.
The first visit to the Dentist:
The very first visit to the dentist should be made soon after child turns 1 year old. Make it a practice to see a dentist once in every 6 months after the first one.
Tips for dental care among children:
- Extend a clean teething ring or a washed wet cloth chilled in a freezer for 15 to 30 minutes and allow to chew on it.
- Encourage your child to nibble on a frozen banana, a big slice of apple, berries to get instant relief from teething discomfort.
- Sucking on a slow flowing sippy cup with cool water provides great comfort.
- Rub your baby’s gums with your clean fingers for comfort. It is absolutely fine to let the baby chew all day if he or she enjoys it.
- After months of baby drooling and fussing the little tooth bud will eventually pop out through the baby’s gums.
- Initially the teeth can be cleaned with a soft, moist washed cloth or a gauze piece.
- As the teeth erupt completely start using a finger brush and gently brush the teeth.
- At first a wet tooth brush will do, switch over gradually to a small amount of non flouridated tooth paste.
- Brush your child’s teeth until the child is old enough to hold the brush and continue to supervise the process till the age of 6 years.
Dr G Sowjanya, is a general dental surgeon and runs her own clinic Dental Corner