Babies and teeth can present new parents with a whole world of trouble. Our NCT group have been back and forth on WhatsApp for the past eight months on the topic of teething and the symptoms commonly associated with new baby teeth. We asked the advice of Paediatric Dentist Dr Carmen Colomar and presented to her with just a few of our questions on the topic of babies and teeth.
Should a baby’s gums be brushed once weaning has started regardless of age, and if so, how many times a day / or brushing after food / in night after any night feeds?
If the weaning has started, and there are no teeth present, you can wrap your finger with a wet gauze and wipe your baby’s mouth.
If there are teeth in the mouth, start brushing them with a smear of fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Brush last thing at night and on one other occasion.
What brushes would you recommend for babies?
None in particular, any that have a small head with soft nylon bristles that is easy to handle.
Should we use toothpaste, and if so, what kind?
Yes, look for kids toothpaste and check the fluoride concentration in the packages. Some brands still do not follow the guidelines in terms of the correct fluoride concentration.
-Children aged up to 3 years: as soon as teeth erupt in the mouth, brush with only a smear of fluoridated toothpaste containing no less than 1,000 ppm fluoride.
-Children over 3 years: use fluoridated toothpaste containing more than 1,000 ppm fluoride, with only a pea size amount.
What should we do if baby hates the taste of toothpaste?
An unflavoured toothpaste like OraNurse® can be used, specially formulated for people sensitive to strong flavours. It has the daily recommended fluoride and which is sodium lauryl sulphate free (non-foaming). It is available in different concentrations, with the protection of 1000ppm fluoride for children aged 0-3 years, 1450ppm fluoride for children aged 4 years plus, and the original adult formula.
How should we deter babies from chewing on their brushes?
It is not bad that babies chew on their brushes. It helps with the clearance of plaque, stimulates saliva flow, and can work like a sort of teething relief. The only downside is that you will need to buy lots toothbrushes!
Any tips on getting the brush into a wriggling baby’s mouth?
If you start early, your baby will get used to having his teeth cleaned which will discourage potential future wriggling.
- Guiding your baby’s hand can make them feel more comfortable and more in control.
- Modelling: brushing with them.
- Using a mirror while brushing can distract them and make them stare at themselves.
- Giving them their own toothbrush to hold and allowing them to play with the brush before. You will be surprised!
The main aim of toothbrushing in early days is to deliver the fluoride from the toothpaste to the oral cavity twice daily. We cannot expect at the early stages to achieve 100% plaque removal but the topical application of fluoride increases the resistance of the teeth to future decay.
Is there anything we can do for babies aged around 8 months that haven’t got teeth, to encourage their teeth through? Harder foods, massaging gums?
There isn’t any proven technique that encourages teeth to come through earlier, although harder foods and massaging gums may help with teething discomfort. Sometimes we need to respect mother nature. If baby teeth are late coming through, the adult teeth tend to follow the same pattern and it is worth letting the orthodontist know when the child is older.
What products are best for teething?
If your baby is in pain or has a mild raised temperature (less than 38C), you may want to give them Calpol medicine or baby Nurofen. These contain a small dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Teething toys and teething gels can alleviate the pain. You may need to try a few different toys until you find something that works for your baby. The current research is quite controversial in which products work better.
When should I expect my baby’s teeth to emerge, in what order do they come through, and how long does it take for all of them to come through?
Most babies get their first tooth at around 6 months, some before 4 months, others after 12 months, and very few babies are born already with a tooth!
The first teeth will most likely be the bottom front ones (lower incisors); usually followed, in this order, by the upper front ones (upper incisors), first molars, canines and second molars.
Most babies will eventually have 20 baby teeth by the time they are 2.5 years old.
When should I first take my baby to the dentist?
As soon the first tooth erupts.
This was written by Paediatric Dentist Dr Carmen Colomar.
About: Dr Carmen Colomar qualified from Universitat de Barcelona in 2005 where she also completed successfully a Masters Degree in Occlusion and Oral Rehabilitation. In order to provide a more comprehensive restorative dentistry she studied a Postgraduate Degree in Periodontics at Universitat International de Catalunya. After four years dedicated to private general dentistry in Spain she moved to the UK. It was then when she developed special interest in Paediatric Dentistry. Dr Colomar has continued to extend her knowledge and skills with postgraduate courses and seminars, and she is a member of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry.