How to take care of your child’s teeth

In this mind-numbingly, opinionated age of WhatsApp groups, various topics are discussed with a lot of fervour, which are vitally important than those excruciating “good morning, your face is as resplendent and unstable as plutonium and it is going to implode spreading all that lovely radiation” messages. It’s just toxic. Some of the topics we discuss are things related to our respective child(ren)’s health, development and progress.

At some point dental health came up. Every set of parents had something to share but a couple of them really got our attention. A few narrated their harrowing experience of how their kids’ teeth started rotting by the age of TWO! Baby Z had just turned two and this was clearly a red flag for us.

Even though we introduced brushing to her by 18 months, we noticed that whatever little teeth she had, were turning yellow. Before they reached Stage Brown we had to step in and take charge, also Google doesn’t have a dental degree.

We went to Dr. Harsh Vyas (Mumbai), highly recommended. He had the cutest clinic I had ever seen. An open balcony converted into play area dedicated to all those unsuspecting and screaming children. Baby Z made full use of that area smiling and flashing those semi-pearly whites, but I knew that was going to fade away soon.

The doctor was punctual, professional, pleasant-looking and had a very soft demenour, for obvious reasons. You don’t want your kid’s dentist looking like the clown from the movie IT. Forget the kid, I would get nightmares for years.

He instructed me to sit on the patient’s chair with Ziya on my lap so he could take a look at her mouth. She clearly knew she wasn’t getting a glorious toy, doubt crept in and I could tell she was about to bawl. He took exactly 7 seconds to open her mouth check the teeth. She didn’t make it very easy with all that crying, naturally he was prepared and was deft and quick.

Now the verdict that we were all waiting for. My wife and I were like the two finalists at beauty pageant, waiting for the winning announcement, clasping each others’ hands, mouthing dramatic good lucks, promising not to pull out each others’ hair. “Baby Z’s teeth are fine” he finally declared. Jubiliations! We were just happy that the teeth won.

He then took time out to explain, in detail, about Baby Z’s dental health. We too had our set of questions, which he very patiently answered.

It is no cause for alarm if kids dont get all their 20 milk teeth by the age of two. Some don’t get them till they are three and half (Baby Z has 12 teeth).

He was happy to find out that we had already started brushing her teeth, it is anyway recommended that brushing should be started by the age of 2. Initially it can be just for 10-15 seconds, eventually it needs to be standardized to 1 minute. Even if the kids want to brush their teeth all by themselves, it’s fine, but he asserted that the parents should be the last to brush the child’s teeth, they have to get used to that.

Ensure that you are not over-zealous while brushing their teeth as the little gums are still tender and they will end up fearing brushing altogether and avoid it as aggressively as possible.

Use less flouride toothpaste, don’t go for the no flouride ones. Flouride, he said, is the essential requirement for the health of teeth even more than the act of brushing. Even
if the child swallows the paste or foam it’s okay. That’s why you must push the paste all the way into the bristles as opposed to just squeezing it on top because kids will just eat it up.

Night brushing is absolutely important after which the child should not eat anything, put them straight to bed.

We had a specific query on thumb-sucking to which he said not to force them to get off the habit because it’s soothing for them and there is no point upsetting them. It’s fine if they do it till the age of 6 or 7, eventually by 10-11 they are bound to stop. And if it affects the teeth drastically it can always be corrected.

That ended well. No teething problems… so far.


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