What is Teething?

For years many thought that teething caused fever and general sickness. Teething has been blamed for many things! Research into the problems of teething has shown that some children become irritable, have increased drooling and sometimes a facial rash. However, for most children the effect of teething is teeth! Teething is a normal part of development. If your child has a high temperature that worries you, it is unlikely to be caused by teething and you should consult your physician.

Many remedies have been suggested over the years. There are non medical things that can help. Teething rings have been found to be helpful for some babies. The biting pressure seems to relieve some discomfort especially if the teething ring is chilled. We generally do not recommend pain relief tablets. The treatment can be managed by local measures. For example, special local anaesthetic medicines are available to be placed on sore gum areas. Only use medicines intended for this purpose should be used.

Why are baby teeth so important?

Many parents have been led to believe that baby teeth don’t need to be restored if affected by decay. Yes, these teeth will eventually fall out. However, the average age for a child’s first primary tooth to fall out is 6-8 years of age and the last one between 11-13 years of age. If a primary tooth has been affected by decay and not treated properly it can result in the damage of a permanent tooth. Primary teeth play a vital role in your child’s growth and development. These teeth act as a guide for the permanent teeth to come into the mouth in the best possible position. If a tooth is prematurely lost before the permanent tooth is ready to come in, the nearby teeth can tip or move into the vacant space. When this happens, the permanent teeth may come in malpositioned.

How could I prevent decal caused by nursing?

Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Take your child to a paediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child’s first birthday.

When is the appropriate time to give up the bottle?

For those babies not being breast fed, there is general agreement that around one year of age is a good time to wean baby from the bottle. Paediatric dentists like to see children give up bottles as soon as possible. That is because they see an alarming number of toddlers with Nursing Bottle Decay. This type of decay, which begins on the front teeth, is only seen in toddlers. It results from prolonged use of a milk or sweetened liquid bottle that is put into bed with the baby.

Weaning from the bottle seems to follow two paths. The first is stopping the bottle suddenly. It is a “cold turkey” approach. The second method is a gradual reduction in the usage of the bottle. Reduction usually begins during the day when baby is able to drink from a cup. The last and most difficult bottle to be discontinued is the bottle before bedtime.

How could I deal with my child pacifier and/or thumb sucking?

Sucking is normal for babies and young children. Thumbsucking habits are usually established by three months of age. Some children have the need to “suckle” more than others. Frequent use of a pacifier or thumb can create a number of problems such as an anterior open bite (front teeth do not meet), palatal changes and tongue protrusive posturing (tongue thrusting). Although these conditions can be corrected through orthodontics and/or surgical procedures in the future, early intervention is recommended. Pacifiers should be discontinued by 2-3 years of age. If your child has a thumbsucking habit, begin to encourage discontinuation at 4-6 years of age. Your paediatric dentist will work with you and your child to develop a positive reinforcement reward system to help them quit.


What is the best way to clean a baby’s mouth?

Different methods have been recommended. The popular technique nowadays is to use a clean, small gauze pad. If non-sterile ones are purchased they are much less expensive. Alternately, a clean dry wash cloth can be used. The teeth and gums are firmly wiped to remove liquid and food debris. This is done before bedtime. Once the child has back teeth, a small, soft toothbrush can be used to clean the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the molars.

When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, begin using a soft-bristled toothbrush once in the morning after breakfast, before naps and most importantly at night before your child goes to bed. Use only a tiny bit of toothpaste, a pea-sized amount is sufficient and will not be harmful if swallowed. Do not be discouraged if your child refuses or becomes fussy during the brushing of his/her teeth. Children do very well with routines. As this is done on a “routine” basis your child will become desensitized to brushing. If your child doesn’t seem to like the taste of toothpaste, just use water. Toothpaste is not a necessity for most infants under 24-36 months of age.

The simple answer is that teeth should be cleaned as soon as they first appear. Parents should not limit the cleaning only to teeth. The gums also need to be cleaned.

When does the first tooth come in?

The first tooth usually comes in around 6 months of age. Most often it is a lower front tooth. Our experience, however, is that the tooth eruption timing of primary teeth is more variable than for permanent teeth. The front 8 teeth (4 on top and 4 on bottom) usually have come in by 9 months of age.

When should I bring my child for his/her first dental visit?

Early examination procedures have been recommended strongly in the past decade to help reduce the number of infants and children who suffer from preventable tooth decay.

Ideally we like to see children have their first dental check up by their first birthday. Why? Seeing the child early gives the dentist the opportunity to examine the mouth and confirm normal oral development. Most importantly, the teeth can be examined for cleanliness. It gives the dentist the opportunity to provide advice on prevention and make the best care plan for your child. It also gives parents the chance to discuss feeding practices, teething and mouth habits.


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