Because of hormonal changes during the pregnancy the tissue around the teeth is better supplied with blood. Intensive dental care is essential to prevent dental caries and gums inflammations. Expectant mothers should avoid frequent small snacks and foods rich in sugar. In the beginning of the pregnancy, they should visit their dentist for a check-up. If a treatment is necessary, it should take place after the 3rd month.
With the baby’s first breath, bacteria start to populate its mouth which was absolutely bacteria-free before. Up to the child’s fourth year, 200 to 300 various bacteria types will be found in its mouth. As a rule, among these bacteria are also the Streptococcus Mutans bacteria which are known to cause dental caries. This germ can be transmitted to the newborn as a result of kissing, licking up the dummy or tasting the food on the baby’s spoon. If the parents manage to prevent transmitting of Streptococcus Mutans up to the fourth year of life, the bacteria cannot find optimal conditions any more. However, since most women don’t want to abstain from kissing their babies, it is a good idea to check the mother’s individual caries risk. The saliva test will show the amount of bacteria leading to dental caries. If necessary, your dentist will suggest you a treatment. If you are breastfeeding, this is good orthodontic prophylaxis which also stimulates the development of chewing muscles and the jaw growth. If you prefer commercial baby foods, please consider that the teat opening should not be too large. You can satisfy the natural sucking instinct of you baby between the feeding times by using an age-appropriate and anatomically suitable dummy. Avoid thumb sucking. When practised beyond the third year of life, thumb sucking can lead to malocclusions. Contrary to a dummy, a thumb is always ready to hand, that’s why thumb sucking is that difficult tos top.
The first tooth
By the moment of the birth, all the primary teeth are already established in the jaw. The can start to break through from the fourth month. When the first tooth is in the mouth, the parents should carefully start with dental care. The first teeth should be brushed with a cotton swab or a cloth at least once a day to remove the plaque. Later you can use a special baby tooth brush. When the front teeth have broken through the gums, you can brush the baby’s teeth with a children tooth brush and a pea-sized amount of children toothpaste with 0,05 per cent fluoride. The toothpaste shouldn’t be sweet or fruity to the taste to avoid swallowing.
However, proper tooth brushing has to be learned.
Being parents, you are acting as a role model to your child. When the first molars are in the mouth, the children should start to brush the chewing surfaces by themselves and add the outer and inner surfaces gradually as their brushing skill improves. The following order should be complied with: chewing surface, outer surface, inner surface. Up to the age of five, children still need the help of their parents when brushing their teeth.
Children dentists recommend the parents to brush their children’s teeth once again every day.
Healthy meals are just as important as a correct brushing technique. Some of the bacteria found in the mouth turn sugars and carbohydrates into aggressive acids which can attack enamel. The more frequently and the longer these acids remain in the mouth, the faster dental caries develops. It is not the amount which is important but rather the other factors, such as:
time: Neither sugars nor carbohydrates do harm when you don’t eat between meals and brush your teeth after each meal.
frequency: Short acid attacks can be held off by saliva. However, many snacks between meals, especially those rich in sugar, impede this function.
duration: If the teeth are constantly washed around by sweet drinks (fruit juices) this may have disastrous results. Prolonged sucking from a teat bottle can completely destroy a child’s teeth within a few months.
consistency: Gluey sweets like honey, nougat, dried fruit or bananas stick to the teeth and in between and can hardly be removed by saliva.
There is no need to completely abstain from sweets. Search for a smiling little man with umbrella which more than 120 „teeth-friendly“ sweets have been marked with by now. Give your child wholemeal products, milk and milk products, low-fat meat and fish, fruit and vegetables. Prefer firm foods which strengthen jaws, gums and mastication muscles and stimulate the chewing function and the salivation which is essential for the self-cleaning function of the teeth. Use fluoridated salt when cooking because fluoride is known to prevent dental caries in children and adults. Please ask your dentist and your paediatrist whether your child needs additional fluoride, e.g. fluoride tablets (for little children combined with vitamin D). Even little children should visit their dentist for biannual check-ups.
The first dental appointment should take place when all primary teeth are in the mouth, at the latest, i.e. at the age of 2.5. Don’t wait until your child gets toothache. Give your child the opportunity to become acquainted with the dentist and the practice when it doesn’t have pain.
Source: AOK Clarimedis - the AOK health consultants Rheinland/Hamburg