Thank you for getting involved in the Aquafresh Coffeehouse forum on teething and first teeth. We know it can be a particularly trying period for you and your little one and so, as promised, I have endeavoured to answer as many of your questions below as possible.
The most frequently asked questions referred to how and when teething first occurs and what you should do when that first tooth makes an appearance.
Your baby will start teething around six months – however, this can vary enormously so please don’t panic if your baby’s teeth come through a little later (or earlier!).
The first sign to look out for is swollen gums, dribbling, and your baby putting their fingers in their mouth more frequently. They may also be feeling generally quite grotty.
Teething can be painful for your little one and there are a variety of different methods to help ease their discomfort. Remember that different things work for different babies.
A cool teething ring can help – Aquafresh has launched a new one that has been created alongside paediatric dentists and comes in two colours. Stick it in the fridge to cool and it can then be comforting for your little one. Healthy snacks such as chopped vegetable sticks that have been cooled in the fridge can also be good for soothing gums. Plenty of cuddles and distraction techniques are great to take your baby’s mind off teething too! If these techniques don’t seem to work, and your child is still in pain and has a temperature, then visit your GP.
But remember – it will pass!
Brushing & the dentist
The best time to start brushing teeth is as soon as they appear in your child’s mouth – then these good habits should last.
If you are worried to start with, use a clean muslin cloth to clean their teeth and gums. Otherwise use a small baby toothbrush and a milk teeth toothpaste – apply a smear to begin with so your baby gets used to the taste.
Tooth brushing can be a strange sensation to start with so I think it’s good to sit your baby on your lap, supporting their head, and brush gently in circular motions on the teeth and gums. You could give you baby another toothbrush to play with as a distraction!
As your child grows and their teeth develop, work through the stages of toothpaste and toothbrushes – but only use a smear of toothpaste each time. All children will need to be supervised during the tooth brushing routine until they are about six or seven years old.
In terms of when to visit the dentist, I like to see children from about the age of 18 months. It’s good for them to become familiar with the look, feel and smell of the dentist’s. It’s important you never pass on any fears you may have about going to the dentist; just treat it as a normal regular visit, like going to the supermarket, so your child feels as comfortable as possible.
Some of you asked about flossing too. I would recommend starting to introduce dental floss from around the age of six to seven years old, but take advice from your own dentist who will show you and your child exactly what to do. Always supervise your child until you’re sure they can do it properly themselves.
Some final top tips…
2) Always make tooth brushing time fun and enjoyable – try not to get stressed about it.
3) Remember, it is not the amount of sugar that causes tooth decay but the frequency your child eats very sugary foods – so limit it to mealtimes – with healthy snacks in between.
4) Stick to milk and water and, for as long as you can, avoid fizzy drinks – children are not born with a sweet tooth!
5) Record every moment in your children’s development and treasure it!
Tina Tanna BDS D(GDP)UK practising Dentist in Chertsey, Surrey.