Taking Care of Infant Oral Health

Taking Care of Infant Oral Health

by Olwethu Leshabane

September is National Oral Health Month, a time to pay extra attention to your dental routine, particularly as two of the world’s most common health problems affect the mouth – cavities and gum disease.

Let’s kickstart this Oral Health Series by talking about Baby’s Oral Health.

First Signs of Teething

Here are signs to look out for when your little one starts teething:

Crying and Crankiness

This usually happens just before the first tooth or teeth pop up. You will start seeing your little one’s mood change or them become a lot crankier.

Excessive Drooling
Ready for the soaked clothes? This is the reality of a lot of teething babies. Prepare to change baby quite a lot during this period as it can be uncomfortable having to be in wet clothing for prolonged periods of time.

Biting
To counter the pressure of the incoming tooth, baby’s first instinct is to bite and attempt to relieve the discomfort they are feeling. If you’re still breastfeeding, this can be super painful. And if you are bottle feeding, prepare to change teats quite often around this time – keep some extra teats on standby.

Changes to Eating and Sleeping Routines
Teething is a full-time job for babies – it basically takes over their whole life. So, a teething baby may get cranky, struggle with their usual feeds and perhaps even have a lot more restlessness and disturbed sleep.

Cheek Rubbing and Ear Pulling
Because the ears, gums and cheeks all share the same nerve pathways, you may often see baby rubbing their cheeks. Baby may be feeling the pain all through the jaw line. This may happen more when the molars are coming out.It’s also a great idea to check in with your doctor or paediatrician to get this checked should baby persist as this could also be a sign of an ear infection.

What is the Teething Timeline?


Interesting fact: Your child’s teeth begin developing in utero, but they don’t cut through the gumline until months after they are born.

Teething varies from baby to baby but the general teething timeline kind of looks like this:

3 Months-6 Months: Signs That Teething Is Happening
Hello crankiness and tons of drool.

6 Months-12 Months: The First Tooth
Their first tooth is usually the bottom front two. And then the top four.

12 Months: The Molars Make Their Appearance
These can painful. So, brace yourself for another peak of drooling and crankiness. It’s likely the canines, the pointy teeth, start showing up around this time.

12 Months-24 Months: The Teething Process Winds Down
As the first set has settled, the second sets start coming in. Again, it’s all about managing the discomfort and irritability.

How Do I Soothe My Baby’s Discomfort?

Drool is Uncomfortable
All that drool obviously drenches baby’s clothes and vest and perhaps even you. Look into getting a Dribble Bib too. This bib helps protect your baby’s tender skin with the super-absorbent unique dribble catcher that absorbs moisture.

Keep baby’s mouth and chest dry and moisturised. Vaseline, some Aqueous Cream and perhaps even an amazing natural barrier cream such as the ApiCare Manuka Therapy 30% Honey Creme does the job.

Try Out Some Teething Rings and Toys


Remember the pressure baby tries to apply by biting? Teething toys are designed to apply counter-pressure for baby, and this reduces the painful pressure on their gums. There are so many options and fun ones available these days that are fun, flexible and the perfect size for tiny hands, your little ones can chew to their heart’s content whilst getting right to the source of their pain.

Here are some options to try.

Looking After Baby’s First Teeth


When baby’s first teeth come in, here’s how to keep them healthy and clean:

  • Brush baby’s teeth with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a very tiny bit of Fluoride free toothpaste
  • Start encouraging and teaching baby to spit while brushing at around 2 years.
  • Remember that even babies can get tooth decay. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle may harm a baby’s teeth (I know, hard right??!).
  • Try avoiding sugars from juice, formula, or milk that stay on a baby’s teeth for hours can eat away at baby’s teeth enamel – this is the layer of the tooth that protects against tooth decay.
  • When baby is around 6 months, it advised to switch from bottle to Sippy cup to avoid liquids from pooling in baby’s mouth and around the teeth.

Consult a Paediatrician


Not sure of anything and in doubt? See your paediatrician or family doctor. When my first-born started teething, we dealt with diarrhoea, temperatures and all the other stuff that comes with a frustrated baby struggling to soothe their gums. Our paediatrician made some great suggestions to relieve the pain and get baby comfortable.

Every day, even before baby’s first tooth starts making a debut, run a clean damp cloth or a soft infant toothbrush over baby’s gums to just clean and ensure you’ve wiped away any bad bacteria that may be on baby’s teeth.

– Digital Doula Tip

Article originally published on www.artofsuperwoman.com

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