Most parents adore that toothless gummy grin, but whether you like it or not, teeth begin to surface as your baby turns around 6 months old and his first milk tooth emerges. As your baby’s teeth appear, so do a host of new symptoms caused by the terrible teething process.
Babies can suffer from a number of oral health problems while teething, including natal teeth, tooth decay and thrush. Parents know that teething can turn their precious “bundle of joy” into a “bundle of anguish,” but with proper prevention and immediate treatment, your child doesn’t have to suffer from these oral health problems.
Natal teeth have the ability to interfere with new tooth development. Some babies are born with one or more teeth from the get-go, which can be a big surprise for parents who expect to see nothing but soft pink gums after baby is born.
Natal teeth are typically attached by only soft tissue, with no real root structure in place. Natal teeth can be removed to prevent oral health problems, such as irritation to the infant’s tongue or pain to the mother while nursing. If left in place, natal teeth should be cleaned with a damp cloth after every feeding.
The primary cause of tooth decay in teething children is the consumption of sweets. While your baby may love those lollipops and sweet drinks, sugar should be limited to prevent damage to baby’s teeth. According to HealthyChildren.org, tooth decay is the number-one most common dental problem among preschool-aged children.
An average of one out of 10 2 year olds has one or more cavities, which can result in future dental problems. To keep your child’s teeth healthy and gleaming, avoid sugary foods and give your child nutritious meals and snacks that will help ward off tooth decay and encourage healthy gums and strong teeth.
Thrush is a type of yeast infection that can occur in infants and young children, caused by the excessive growth of Candida, a fungus. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, thrush is extremely common in young infants and is naturally found in the digestive tracts and mouths of babies.
The problem arises when the bacteria grows out of control, typically when the child’s immune system is weakened, such as during an illness or while taking certain medications. Parents can recognize thrush by finding white spots inside the baby’s mouth or on the tongue. While thrush usually goes away on its own, call your child’s pediatrician if the thrush is causing your baby to become irritable or if your child refuses to nurse.
According to WebMD, dental care should begin when your child turns 1 year of age. Parents should also set up an oral health care routine at home, using a pea-sized amount of child-safe toothpaste to gently brush your child’s teeth twice a day.
Protect your child’s teeth by setting a good example, allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth, and teaching your child good oral hygiene habits. Besides daily tooth brushing, ensure your child’s diet is full of nutritional foods to prevent the risk of cavities and lower your child’s chance of developing oral health problems.