Your Baby's First Teeth

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tooth_cYour baby will be teething from around six to eighteen months and so gums may be sore and your child may be quite unsettled and not interested in food. A chilled teething ring can help soothe sore gums. You could also give chilled raw vegetables like sticks of carrot or cucumber. Rubbing an infant teething gel on to the gums may help - they contain local anaesthetics and can be prescribed by a GP, who is the best person to discuss whether they are suitable or not.

Teeth begin to errupt from six months onwards and four to eight teeth are usually present by the age of twelve months. You should start brushing your baby's teeth as soon as the first one appears. Brush your child's teeth thoroughly twice a day, using a small, pea-sized blob of fluoride toothpaste on a small baby toothbrush with soft fibres. Do not put a lot of toothpaste on your child's toothbrush, particularly in areas where fluoride is already added to tap water. Too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, which can permanenetly discolour children's teeth. Alternatively, you could wrap a clean flannel around your finger and gently rub the teeth and sums.

Baby bottle tooth decay

Drinking from a bottle is worse for teeth than drinking from a cup because the juice is in contact with the teeth for longer. Nursing bottle caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, occurs when a young baby or small child is frequently given sugary drinks in a bottle. The bacteria present on teeth uses sugar to produce acid, which attacks tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay. It is even worse to give a baby a bottle to suck at night when there is less saliva than usual, which results in sugar clinging to the teeth. It is much better to give water between meals, reserving fruit juice for mealtimes only. If your child insists on a bottle to take to bed then use water. It is a good idea to start using a lidded cup with a spout from the age of six or seven months and eventually move on to a cup. Try to dispense with bottles by the time your baby is one year old.

Tooth-friendly snacks:

  • Vegetable sticks on their own or with a dip.
  • Cheese or cheese on toast.
  • Vegetable crisps, lightly salted popcorn.
  • Fingers of toast.
  • Cream cheese with mini-bread sticks, rice cakes or oatcakes.
  • Mini-Sandwiches with peanut butter, Marmite or Promite, egg mayonnaise (make sure it is pasteurised).
  • A bowl of home-made soup or fresh soup from a canon.
  • Mini-salads, e.g. mozzarella and tomato, pasta, tuna and sweetcorn.
  • Fresh fruit.

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