Clean baby's gums before they have teeth

SmartParents talks to Dr Badrun Nafis, a paediatric dentist at Thomson Paediatric Dentistry for details on baby dentistry and teething.

Babies-Start-them-brushing-before-they-have-teeth

1. How do I clean my baby’s teeth and gums when he only has a few teeth? A baby toothbrush and toothpaste or will a washcloth do?
Baby’s gums need to be kept clean of milk debris. This can be done by wiping the gums with a clean cloth or towel. Cleaning the gums will help prevent buildup of smelly milk debris as well train the baby to accept oral hygiene measures later on.

2. How can I soothe my baby when he’s teething? Will ice or teething gels soothe his pain? Anything else?
During teething, as the tooth breaks through, it puts pressure on the gums and may cause discomfort.You may provide some relief by massaging the gums with a clean finger or a moist gauze pad. You may also get a clean wash cloth, wet it, wring out the excess water and then put it in the fridge to chill. Your baby can then bite on the cool washcloth for comfort. Teething rings also work well but don’t freeze those filled with liquid as that will make the teethers too hard. Use of topical anesthetics, including over-the-counter teething gels, to relieve discomfort are discouraged due to potential toxicity of these products in infants. Oral analgesics such as paracetamol syrup may be given with the correct dosage if the baby gets really irritable.

3. When can I introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste? How should I brush ― gently?
Once the first tooth erupts, brushing with an age-appropriate soft toothbrush should be started. Toothbrushing should be performed for children by a parent twice daily.

4. Will using fluoride toothpaste help or hurt my baby?
Toothpaste with fluoride is recommended but the concentration of fluoride and how to use the toothpaste should be discussed with your friendly paediatric dentist.

Photos: iStock

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