Once they are through, clean the teeth with a soft damp cloth initially and later a soft bristled brush. Toothpaste is not needed at first. When they are over a year use just a pea sized amount of toothpaste will work well.
Toothbrushes with chunky handles are easy to hold and an ‘animal’ or a funky design on the end adds interest. To prevent decay, don’t settle your baby in bed with a bottle of formula or juice as the teeth will remain coated all night. Food like biscuits, muesli bars, lollies and dried fruit will leave a sticky layer and should be cleaned away after the food has been eaten.
As your toddler becomes good at using a toothbrush, clean yours at the same time as they will enjoy copying what you do. Children do need help with cleaning their teeth until they are 5 or 6 years old.
So how to suspect that teeth are on their way?
Teething can be suspected when you notice the following:
- Lots of dribbling.
- Not feeding so well.
- Unsettled and unhappy – episodes of crying.
- Wanting to chew on anything that is near.
- May have one or two rosy cheeks.
- An area on the gums may look red and swollen.
What can help?
- Give a cold cloth to chew on or a teething ring. Chill in the fridge beforehand as the coldness is soothing.
- Tie some firm fruit in muslin and they will enjoy chewing on that.
- Rub the gum area with a clean finger.
- If your baby bites when breastfeeding, take baby off the breast and have a break. Try again a few minutes later.
- Bonjela is a useful numbing gel to rub on the gums if the baby is over 4 months. Give it time to soothe by applying 10 minutes or so before feed time.
- Paracetamol will help reduce severe distress–pain. Give about 30 minutes before the feed and make sure of the correct dose for the age and weight of your baby. Only 4 doses should be given in 24 hours.
It is a rather trying time but quite exciting when the teeth finally appear!