Babies & Toddlers

Teething Trouble?

Some signs that your baby may be teething:
-Red cheeks or rash on cheeks
-Increased saliva and drooling
-Loss of appetite

Teething may make your baby restless and irritable. If fever, vomiting, or diarrhoea occurs, do not relate this automatically to teething, as it is not generally the cause of these conditions. See your doctor first.

What can I do about it?

  •  Let your child chew on a cold, hard object, such as a teething ring. The coldness helps ease the discomfort and the hardness will speed up the eruption of the tooth.
  • Massaging your child’s gums with a clean finger can help reduce pain and discomfort during teething.
  • Teething gels or ointments (ask your pharmacist for a brand name) are used to numb the gums and reduce the discomfort.
  • Teething biscuits are not a good choice as they contain sugar and may lead to tooth decay.

 Baby’s First Teeth

Usually, the first baby teeth to come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. They begin to appear when your child is about 6 to 8 months old. The 4 upper front teeth follow them. The remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically, usually in pairs on each side of the jaw, until the child is about 2 1/2 years old. By that time, all 20 baby teeth will most likely have come in. From this point on until the child is 5 to 6 years old, his or her first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth, others don’t.

The importance of Baby Teeth

Even though baby teeth will eventually be lost they are just as important as the adult teeth. They not only hold the space for incoming permanent teeth, but also are important for biting and chewing food, speech, and physical appearance. Early tooth loss due to dental decay can have a serious impact on your child’s self-esteem and self-confidence in their appearance. For that reason, it is important to teach your child from an early age the importance of a healthy diet and good daily oral hygiene practices to maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime of smiles.

Thumb Sucking?

Thumb, or finger sucking, is a habit that occurs with many infants. Your child will usually give it up naturally by the age of four. If the sucking habit continues beyond the time when permanent teeth start to erupt, your child may develop crooked teeth and a malformed palate (roof of the mouth). This results from pressure applied by the thumb on the teeth and roof of the mouth.

The severity of the problem depends on frequency, intensity, duration and also the position in which their thumb is placed in the mouth. The relationship between the upper and lower jaws may also be affected. Speech defects can occur from misaligned teeth resulting from thumb and/or finger-sucking.


The best prevention is to get your newborn to take up a dummy instead of thumb or finger sucking. Although prolonged use of the dummy can lead to similar problems, it at least is not attached to the child and can be removed.

Children should be helped to give up the habit before they enter school to prevent teasing.

Timing of treatment is important. Your child should be willing to give up thumb or finger sucking. If your child is not willing to stop, therapy is not usually indicated. Pressure you apply to stop may only lead to resistance and lack of cooperation. Try again later.

Give your child attention and understanding and gently discourage the habit. Reminders such as a band-aid on the thumb can help.

Offer rewards for days when your child is successful. Praise your child when successful.

After daytime sucking is controlled:

Help your child to give up the sucking habit during sleep. This is usually an involuntary process and a glove, sock, or thumb/finger guard can help stop the habit.

Take one step at a time. Encourage your child not to suck during one daytime activity, like story time or television watching. Gradually add another activity until daytime sucking is controlled.

If these actions are not successful, see us for further support. By the time your child’s permanent teeth begin to erupt (at around 6 years of age), it should be brought to our attention. We may have other suggestions such as a reminder bar appliance that sits where the thumb is usually placed. This breaks the habit very quickly.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay in infants and children is called “baby bottle tooth decay”. It most often occurs in the upper front teeth and can destroy the teeth. Other teeth may also be affected.

What causes baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Decay occurs when sweetened liquids are given, and are left clinging to an infant’s teeth for long periods. Many sweet liquids cause problems including milk, formula and fruit juice. Bacteria in the mouth use these sugars as food. They then produce acids that attack the teeth. Each time your child drinks these liquids acids attack for 50 minutes or longer. After many attacks the teeth can decay.

It’s not just what you put in your child’s bottle that causes decay but how often and for how long a time. Giving your child a bottle of sweetened liquid many times a day is not a good idea. Allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle during naps or at night can also harm their teeth.

Why Are Baby Teeth important?

Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a good-looking smile. Baby teeth also keep a space in the jaw for the adult teeth. If a baby tooth is lost too early the teeth beside it may drift into the empty space. When it’s time for the adult teeth to come in, there may not be enough room. This can make the teeth crooked or crowded.

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Sometimes parents do not realise that a baby’s teeth can decay soon after they appear in the mouth. By the time the decay is noticed, it may be too late to save the teeth.

You can help prevent this from happening to your child by following the tips below:

  • After each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad.
  • Begin brushing your child’s teeth when the first tooth erupts. Clean and massage gums in areas that remain toothless.
  • Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice or sweetened liquids.
  • If your child needs a dummy between regular feedings, at night, or during naps, fill a bottle with cool water. Never give your child a dummy dipped in any sweet liquid.
  • Avoid filling your child’s bottle with liquids such as sugar-water and soft drinks.
  • If your local water supply does not contain fluoride (a substance that helps prevent tooth decay), ask us how your child should get it.
  • Start dental visits by your child’s first birthday. Make visits regularly. If you think your child has dental problems make an appointment for your child to see us as soon as possible.