Generally after weeks of watching your baby give a toothless smile you spot that white pearly popping up from the gums. Soon in about two years the gummy smile will be replaced by two rows of baby teeth.
The earlier you start caring for your baby's future teeth the better. There are a few simple things that will avoid cavities once the teeth appear:
AdvertisementTry not to put a baby to sleep with a bottle in the mouth.
Wipe the baby's mouth and gums with a clean, wet and soft cloth or gauze; you don't need toothpaste at this point. This will prevent bacteria from clinging to the baby's gums. These bacteria can leave a plaque that can damage infant teeth as they erupt.
Usually babies get their first tooth between 6 - 8 months, though some babies have been known to get their first teeth as early as 4 months.
Gently wipe with a soft cloth when you find teeth erupting to clean them. You can use a soft brush with a small head and a large handle.
As baby teeth develop - a small amount of fluoride -will be beneficial as this mineral prevents tooth decay and strengthens tooth enamel at the same time. Use only a small smear of toothpaste as too much can lead to fluorosis.
Brush the inside and outside of the baby teeth to dislodge any bacteria present, do this twice a day.
According to experts your baby should see a dentist in the first year as you can get useful advice on teething, fluoride, thumb sucking and teeth care.
Teething is painful and uncomfortable for babies and they fuss and cry for days before each baby tooth erupts. Some of the symptoms of teething include swollen gums, drooling and fever.
Babies can be given a clean and cool teething ring which is not too small - to swallow. A baby derives a lot of comfort when you rub the swollen gums with a clean finger.
Avoid giving the infant fruit juices, sodas or any kind of sugary drinks as these can lead to tooth decay. A bacterium feeds on sugar and produces acid which attacks teeth.
Mothers are aware that a gentle brushing of baby teeth is initiated when the first tooth sprouts- at about 6 months, though scientists urge parents to take care of the gums earlier as there is a lot of bacteria present- even in a baby's mouth.
'Like many other diseases, dental cavities are a result of many bacteria in a community, not just one pathogen,' Prof Swanson said, in a study conducted by the University of Illinois.
He added: 'We now recognize that the 'window of infectivity,' which was thought to occur between 19 and 33 months of age years ago, really occurs at a much younger age.'
'Having a drink of juice from a cup in one sitting is better than sucking it over several hours from a bottle or carton because the mouth releases acid that causes decay for about 20 minutes after each sugar-eating episode.'