Try recalling how happy you were when your child’s first baby tooth appeared, your anxiety when he was still missing teeth on his first birthday or the surprise when your baby had his first tooth much too soon! So should all the fuss about the arrival of your baby’s teeth end as soon as all the teeth have erupted? Should it also be not of equal importance to take care of your child’s pearly whites once they are there to stay?

Teething is considered as one of the hardest times for a parent. As a paediatric dentist, I often see anxious parents express concern regarding their child’s irritability, lack of sleep and inexplicable habit of putting everything they come across in their mouth!

Refer below for a quick guide on the teething stages of a baby:

The important stages of Teething
The important stages of Teething

But what is actually harder is the time after all the teeth have finally erupted. Parents lament that their child refuses to brush, takes less than a minute when forced to do so, and eats chocolates and sweets all day! So who is to blame for all this? If brushing is made a punishment and a mind numbingly boring task for the child, do you think he will be happy to comply? When parents and grandparents demonstrate their love for children with an endless supply of chocolates, is it realistically possible that the child will resist them?

The era of the chocolate kids!
The era of the chocolate kids!

The importance of oral health of a child must be understood by every parent. Brushing twice daily, rinsing the mouth after every meal and eating fibrous food over sticky, starchy food is well known to everybody but just hard to implement. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Association (ADA) support the concept of a “Dental Home”. Establishing a Dental Home means maintaining a child’s oral health care in a comprehensive, coordinated and family-centric way by a licensed dentist and the parents. The introduction of a paediatric dentist in a child’s life at the age of one, helps in implementation of preventive strategies which can prevent tooth decay and incorporate oral hygiene regimes as part of their daily routine.

Tooth decay, if left untreated even in the earliest stages of life, will have far reaching consequences for a child’s health and well-being. Early preventive care is a sound health and economic investment. Parents may not take young children to the dentist for a variety of reasons, yet studies have showed that the dental expenses for children who have their first dental visit before age one are 40 percent lower in the first five years than for those who do not visit a dentist before their first birthday.

Some parents feel that decayed milk teeth or primary teeth are not pressing concerns, since they will eventually be replaced by the permanent teeth during the growing years of childhood. One must remember that primary teeth are extremely important as they help the child in chewing, smiling, speaking, looking good and most importantly, guiding the permanent teeth into their right place. In addition, without preventive care, the impact of tooth decay on child development can be significant. Childhood cavities have been linked to lower than ideal body weight and time lost at school. The effects of poor oral health may be felt for a lifetime.

The notion of treating decayed baby teeth in a child is yet to be fully accepted by the Indian population. The lack of speciality paediatric dental practice, ignorance even in the medical fraternity, and malpractice by incompetent dentists has worsened the situation. Consciously ignoring an active source of infection in a child’s mouth can never be justified.

Poor Oral Hygeine
Poor Oral hygiene is a very serious thing!

 So what is to be done???

Step 1:  ASK QUESTIONS! BE INQUISITIVE! GOOGLE!!! Do not blindly believe what your neighbours or relatives tell you about your child’s teeth.

Step 2:  A paediatric dentist is a dentist specialized in the care of your child’s oral health….consult one of them!

Every parent has the right to know what is best for their child, and just a little effort will be a long way in ensuring that your baby always has a beautiful smile!

About our expert :

Dr. Pritika Rai
Dr. Pritika Rai

Dr. Pritika Rai is a paediatric dentist, practicing in Delhi. She completed her graduation from Government Dental College, Mumbai in 2009. Intrigued by the vast field of Paediatric Dentistry, she worked and trained for brief periods in various hospitals of eminence, including Naval Institute of Dental Sciences, INHS Asvini Campus (Mumbai), The Army Dental Centre, The Research and Referral Hospital (New Delhi), Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (Chandigarh) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences ( New Delhi). Motivated to provide the best quality of dental treatment for children, Dr. Rai completed her postgraduation in Paediatric and Preventive Dentistry from the prestigious King George’s Medical University, Lucknow. The range and quality of clinical training received there has provided her with an array of treatment options for patients facing complicated dental problems with the latest advancements in dental practice. Passionate about her field, she has undertaken to spread awareness and change the traditional beliefs and practices about Paediatric dentistry in the Indian population.

5 Comments

  1. Archana says:

    very informative article!

  2. Smitha says:

    In my opinion, getting a sole pediatric dentist in India is difficult.

    1. Dr Rai says:

      That might be true ma’am in some parts of the country. But I can assure you that all big cities would definitely have practising paediatric dentists. More than the specialist, the correct treatment plan for your child is what is important, even if it can be provided by a non paediatric dentist. I recommend people to go to the paediatric dental department in government dental colleges if they have one in their city, and get their suggestion if they are unsure about the treatment plan provided by your doctor. These non profit organisations can help guide you and verify the treatment you are getting.

  3. Aparna says:

    Great piece! Thanks for the read

  4. Nalini says:

    A must read article for all parents and grandparents.

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