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Teething & Beyond: Tips For Taking Care Of Your Baby’s Teeth

raw Baltic amber necklace

The teething process can be a fraught time for both you and your baby. Most infants will start to cut their first teeth between four and six months, and it can take until they are one or two and a half years old to develop a full set. Some babies will appear to be untroubled by this process, but most will experience some discomfort and may be fretful and grumpy.

This is because the emerging teeth put pressure on the gums, causing them to feel sore and inflamed. Some babies will respond to being comforted or distracted by their caregiver, but others may continue to be distressed and may have difficulty sleeping. Giving your baby a suitable object to chew on may help to relieve the discomfort.

The NHS advises that children over the age of three months can be given painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, many parents seek a more natural alternative to manufactured drugs for their baby. 

A popular holistic therapy that may be used in combination with other treatments is the raw Baltic amber necklace. This is not a teething toy that is designed to be chewed, but a medicinal therapy that can be used to soothe a distressed baby. Baltic amber is particularly rich in a substance called succinic acid, which has natural analgesic properties.

When the necklace is worn next to the skin by your baby, the amber beads are gently warmed and will release small amounts of succinic acid. This is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, providing a natural source of pain relief. All babies will react at different speeds to this process, but within a week you may notice your child is calmer.

How to take care of your baby’s teeth

Of course, teething is the first step in your child’s dental journey. Laying down the foundations of good oral hygiene in infanthood will set your child up for trouble-free teeth later in life, and they will surely thank you for it when they are older!

February is Children’s Dental Health Month, so it’s a good time to brush up on the best way to care for your child’s teeth. If you are in the UK, it’s advisable to sign your child up to a NHS dentist as early as possible, because some of them have long waiting lists. 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s just as important to look after baby teeth as adult teeth, because they are crucial to help your child learn to speak and eat properly. 

Baby teeth are also the foundation for the spacing and alignment of their adult teeth, so taking good care of them could save your child from having to undergo inconvenient and expensive straightening measures such as braces when they are older. 

You should start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth emerges. You can use a finger toothbrush, which sits on top of your finger, or a small toothbrush with soft bristles. Apply a tiny dab of fluoride toothpaste to the head. Sit your child on your knee and support their head, and brush their teeth in small circles.

Brush their teeth before bed and at another time during the day. Encourage them to spit the toothbrush residue out afterwards, but do not rinse their mouth with water as this will wash away the protective fluoride. If your child dislikes brushing, try to make it more fun rather than turn it into a battle.

Brush your own teeth at the same time so that they can learn from your behaviour or that of an older sibling. Using colourful toothbrushes and flavoured toothpaste can help to encourage a reluctant child. 

Get them used to trips to the dentist from an early age, and if you have any personal fears about going, keep it to yourself rather than pass your attitude on to your child. This will help them to understand that taking care of their teeth is an essential part of everyday life and is not something to be avoided or viewed as an optional extra. 

Dentistry magazine carries some further useful information about child tooth care to highlight National Children’s Dental Health Month. They asked a range of dental professionals for their top tips to keep your child’s teeth in great shape.

Dr Mac Bule advises: “Do not brush your child’s teeth straight after eating and/or drinking sweet things. Wait for half an hour so saliva can neutralise the acid. Eating cheese would also help. The phosphate and the calcium in cheese would help break down the acid caused by the interaction between the sweets and bacteria inside the mouth.”

Of course, babies and young children should have a minimal amount of sugar in their diet, because sugar is the main cause of tooth decay. To help cut down, give them milk or plain water rather than juices and sugar-sweetened drinks. If you are giving them juice, use a free flowing cup rather than a bottle to disperse the juice and minimise contact with the teeth.

Check the ingredients of ready-mixed baby food pouches, as some can have a high sugar content. If you give your child a dummy, never dip it in anything sweet. Avoid giving an older child sweets or biscuits as a reward, but offer them small toys such as crayons and colouring books instead. 

Dr Sharon offers some further advice: “My tip for parents to keep on top of their child’s oral health is to use plaque disclosing tablets. A plaque disclosing tablet helps to identify areas of your child’s teeth that they’ve missed after completing their oral care routine.”

“They contain a harmless dye that reacts with the plaque that may remain on areas of the teeth after cleaning. When you see the dyed areas, you and your child can easily identify trouble spots to focus their brushing efforts.”

By the time most children are seven years old, they should be capable of brushing their teeth by themselves. However you should still supervise them to make sure they brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes twice a day.