You can take your baby to your own routine check-up, but it is always best to discuss this with your dentist first. This can help the baby to get used to the surroundings. Your dentist will be able to offer advice and prescribe medicines for teething pains, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. The baby’s own check-ups can start any time from about 6 months or from when the teeth start to appear. At the first check up, the dentist will examine the mouth, gums and milk teeth and suggest care tips. This is also an opportunity for you to ask them about their views on fluoride supplementation. Fluoride is important in developing strong, decay-resistant teeth – and is found in the water supply. However, if you live in an area with a low fluoride content in the water your dentist may suggest giving your baby fluoride supplements. If you have any concerns about habits such as thumb or finger sucking and the use of dummies, your dentist should also be able to advise. Some believe that prolonged use of a dummy can actually distort teeth and delay speech development so if you have any concerns now is the time to raise them! Finally, remember that new mothers are entitled to free NHS dental treatment for up to a year after the birth, so there is no excuse for you to neglect your dental health at this busy time. A baby’s first tooth tends to appear around the age of 6 months. He or she will usually start to dribble, rub their gums and cheeks and may want to chew a lot. The first teeth tend to come through easily without much pain – it’s the first molars cut around the age of 14 months that prove most uncomfortable. As every baby is different and develops at a different rate, no two babies are the same. The chart is a guide to the most common ages and order in which first teeth arrive, but it is quite normal for a baby to follow their own teething plan! It really doesn’t matter, as long as you start caring for the teeth as soon as they appear. The simplest way to relieve pain is to rub on a teething gel containing a local anesthetic to help numb the gum where a tooth is coming through. This can be reapplied every 3 hours as necessary. Keep wiping the dribble from her chin so she doesn’t get sore, and give her hard risks or a teething ring to chew on. Offer her lots of reassuring cuddles to help her settle, too. In children, teeth grinding (known as bruxism) can be due to discomfort as teeth are coming through. A child may also grind their teeth if the feel stressed, but it is more often due to an allergy, an ear infection or a common cold. If he or she shows symptoms of allergy (excess mucus, sneezing, red itchy eyes, runny nose) see your doctor. If she is otherwise well and it continues, see your dentist for advice. Clean each tooth as soon as it appears by wrapping a clean, non-fluffy flannel around your finger and gently rubbing the teeth and gums to wipe away plaque. Alternatively, you can use a soft toothbrush especially designed for a baby’s mouth. Clean after breakfast and last thing at night.
Start introducing a little soft food such as:
- low fiber cereals e.g. baby rice, baby porridge
- soft fruit and cooked vegetables e.g. pureed apple or carrots
- pureed soft meats and pulses (e.g. chicken, beans)
- cows’ milk products e.g. yoghurt, fromage frais, custard, cheese sauce
- Once your baby easily accepts food from a spoon two or three times a day, he usually needs 500 – 600ml breast or formula milk per day plus:
- starchy foods two or three times a day e.g. whole meal bread, toast, cereals
- fruit and vegetables at least twice a day (e.g. mashed banana, peeled apple slices, fingers of raw carrot)
- soft, cooked mince, puréed meat or fish, pulses or chopped, hard-boiled eggs once a day for protein
- cows’ milk products e.g. yoghurt, fromage frais, custard, cheese sauce plus hard cheese as a finger food
- Keep offering different foods for him to try, and if you are still concerned have a word with your health visitor.