Teething 101

Teething is a normal part of your child’s development and has always been mistakenly blamed for fever and loose stools. If your child has high fever, you should consult your doctor as it is unlikely to be caused by teething.

During teething, some children can become irritable with increased drooling. Biting on chilled teething rings has been found useful in relieving teething discomfort for some babies. Your dentist may recommend topical gels to be placed on sore gums.

On cleaning a baby’s mouth

Clean a baby’s mouth with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after feeding him/her. When the first tooth comes at around 6 months of age, the teeth and gums should be wiped to remove liquid and debris especially before bedtime.

Once your child has back teeth (molars), a small soft toothbrush is needed to clean the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the molars. It is a good habit to brush the tongue regularly as well.

What to do with your baby’s sucking habits?

A basic instinct for babies, sucking can help to comfort your young child. Most children outgrow it but some children may need help to wean it off later. It usually is easier to give up a pacifier than a thumb/finger habit; you can throw away the pacifier but not the thumb/finger! Do not dip the pacifier in a sweetened liquid as it can lead to tooth decay.

 Tooth decay in toddlers

Yes, children can get tooth decay before they turn 2! The most common cause is putting a baby to bed at night with a bottle of milk or sweetened liquid such as juice. Babies who are breastfed throughout the night over a long time are also at risk.

Giving up the milk bottle

Around 1 year of age is a good time to train a child to use a sippy cup and wean off the milk bottle. There are two methods of weaning. The first is the ‘cold turkey’ approach—stopping the bottle suddenly. The second method is to gradually reduce the usage of the bottle. It is easier to start by reducing the usage during the day; the last and most difficult bottle is the one before bedtime.

Accidental injuries to baby teeth

It is very common for toddlers who are learning to balance and walk to accidentally knock their teeth. The damage can range from very mild to severe with teeth being broken or knocked out of position. The more serious injuries can cause damage to the developing adult teeth. Some of these accidents can be prevented.

For instance, remember to place your child in a child-seat while travelling in a car.

Seeing the dentist

It is recommended that your child sees a paediatric dentist within 6 months of eruption of his/her first tooth, or around 1 year old. Early dental check-ups are necessary to confirm normal development and to check for cleanliness, and risk factors associated with decay. The dentist will be able to provide advice on prevention of dental problems, diet and feeding practices, as well as teach you the ways to clean your child’s teeth.