The biggest responsibility of a parent is to instil right value systems and inculcate right habits at the appropriate time. While we proudly teach our children to show their Eyes, Nose, Ears, Teeth, Tongue, etc, a proper cleaning regimen is equally important. Even before your baby sports his first tooth, parents are advised to get into the habit of wiping his/her gums with gauze or a soft moistened washcloth after feeding and especially before bedtime. Baby teeth start appearing in the mouth as early as 6 months of age. You can graduate to brushing with rice-grain sized toothpaste before his/her first birthday.
Teething symptoms are very common within two years of age. They vary in duration and intensity with the following presentations:
- Irritability in general
- Biting into objects
- Chin rash
- Drooling of saliva
- Ear rubbing
- Disrupted sleeping pattern
- Decreased appetite.
These symptoms are usually most troublesome during the week that the tooth is erupting through the gums, starting about four days prior and lasting about three days after the tooth appears. You may relieve your child by giving cold pacifiers or chewing rings (not frozen) or carrot for biting. In case of persistent pain, mild painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given orally in appropriate dosage (avoid rubbing it on the gums). The small baby teeth are equally important because they act as placeholders for the adult teeth. A child has trouble chewing and speaking properly without a healthy set of baby teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visiting a dentist within six months after the first tooth erupts, or by her/his first birthday, whichever comes first. It is favourable to bring the child to dental office every six months, to build a rapport with the dentist, to make their visits comfortable while monitoring teeth development and promptly treating any developing problems. With a trusted relationship, they discover the importance of oral hygiene to foster a lifelong commitment to their dental health.