5 Tips: Dental care for newborns
Created by Dr Kunal Gupta Updated on Jun 17, 2020
A child’s oral health care starts from the period of pregnancy because a child’s milk teeth start forming during the period of pregnancy. Hence, a healthy balanced diet with adequate calcium content is important for pregnant mothers for proper formation of milk teeth.
1.Cleaning of gum pads (gums) should begin soon after birth
Gum pads should be cleaned using a clean soft cloth or gauze wrapped on index finger. The gums, tongue and inner surfaces of cheek should be cleaned in sweeping motion. This may require some patience. The gums can be cleaned at any time during the day but preferably after feeding. Once the first tooth erupts, it should be cleaned using a finger brush.
Babies can sprout their first tooth between 4-7 months. Teething may be associated with pain in gums, drooling of saliva, irritability etc. All these can be minimised by massaging of gums with clean fingers, keeping gum pads clean, use of teething rings (hygiene of teething rings should be maintained carefully) and use of finger foods. In the case of severe symptoms, pain relieving gels for babies may be used. Sometimes, teething may be associated with bluish discolouration or swelling over the erupting tooth due to the accumulation of blood over the erupting tooth (known as eruption cyst). Regular massage will help in resolving this problem or sometimes, drainage of fluid or blood over the tooth may be required.
Sometimes, babies are born with a tooth/ teeth in mouth known as “Natal tooth/ teeth”. If they are not well formed teeth, they may require removal. Well formed teeth do not require removal as they are the milk teeth which have erupted in advance although; they may be mobile initially as the root length is short. As the root formation increases over time, their mobility decreases. Regular check up is required to check the mobility. Natal tooth may require removal if they are very loosely attached to the gums.
Dental cavities can affect newborns soon after the first tooth erupts in the mouth. These kinds of cavities are known as “early childhood caries” which are rapidly progressing and are detrimental to the health of milk teeth. Dental cavities are caused by bacteria present in mouth known as streptococcus mutans. These bacteria can be transmitted by the mother to child (dependent on mothers’ levels of streptococcus mutans, the level of oral hygiene, the health of gums and number of untreated cavities in the mouth) or through other family members, caregivers, siblings to the child. Transmission can occur by kissing or sharing spoons (testing temperature of food). Hence, it is advisable that mother and other family members should have good oral health and oral hygiene practices to reduce the risk of getting cavities in newborn.
Although breastfeeding is not directly associated with dental cavities, however, there may be other factors such as enamel defects, poor oral hygiene in babies which may cause dental cavities if the child is breastfed. On the other hand bottle-feeding with formula milk is definitely associated with dental caries. It is recommended that breastfeeding/bottle feeding at night/during sleep beyond one year should be avoided to prevent early childhood caries. If the first tooth erupts before one-year regular cleaning of teeth is important after feeding at night to prevent cavities on teeth.
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| Dec 02, 2020
It’s a great piece of information. The vertical transmission has been covered briefly but accurately. Would like to add to it 1) The gauze piece/ muslin cloth should always be moistened with sterile/boiled water to avoid separation of fragments from the cloth 2) Bottle feeding should be discontinued slowly after 6 months of age and stopped completely by 1 year of age Prolonged bottle-feeding has been the leading cause of early childhood cavities and incorrect swallow patterns. Start right and start early!