An infant's first teeth start appearing at 6 months of age. This time on, they are exposed to a variety of processed foods.
If not cleaned well, the processed flour (maida) sticks to the teeth and becomes a fertile ground for oral bacteria to multiply and release substances which cause decay..
In a very young child below the age of reason,it is prudent to treat such decay, called as 'early childhood caries' under general anaesthesia, in a Pediatric hospital where a doctor is always available.
To prevent infant tooth decay, clean your child's mouth and massage gums using a soft silicone finger brush. It is available in all baby stores. In an older child, make brushing teeth a game that the child enjoys. Do not use toothpaste till a child learns to spit. Just a small smear on a kiddy brush works perfectly once they are able to rinse and spit.
- Use toothpastes with 500 ppm fluoride.
- Delay the introduction of sugar as far as you can.Avoid using a bottle for milk. Do not put a child to sleep with a bottle of milk. Its the prime reason for tooth decay.
- By one year of age, bottles should be discontinued.
- Avoid juices that are canned. Fresh fruits work the best.Let your child chew on carrots, apples, cucumbers. The detergent action helps clean the teeth. They are healthy, filling and fun too.
- Any home made food with natural ingredients will introduce the baby to a world of different tastes.
- Avoid giving anything that comes out of a box, as a rule of thumb. Carbonated drinks, sparkling water etc. are a strict no-no. They are acidic and damage the teeth.
- A dental visit every 6 months will work wonders for your child's pearly whites.
As a general rule, parents should brush the child's teeth till the child learns to tie his/her shoelaces. That shows that their motor movements are developed well enough to be able to brush well.
Good general and oral health begins at home. So why not introduce your child to good habits early on, to ensure a lifetime of good dental health?