Expert speak: Dr M S Saravanakumar M.D.S (PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY)

Dr M S Saravanakumar received his Masters in Pedodontics& Preventive Dentistry (MDS) from College of Dental Sciences (CODS) Davangere, Karnataka 2007.


He is a Best Outgoing student (MDS) with a University rank holder (RGUHS, Bangalore).He received Fellowship award 2014 from Indian Society for Dental Research. Received various national awards Best pediatric laser dentist, pedo master award & doctors choice award. He is a senior consultant in Chennai Apollo hospitals. He has guest lectured extensively and conducted work-shops in PediatricDentistry, Published many articles in various journals. Prime Area of interest is infant’s oral health.

1. Tell us how to take care of new-borns and baby’s oral hygiene before teeth erupts Infant’s oral health:

we start anticipatory guidance for infant oral care during pregnancy itself. Studies have shown that Mothers oral health will affect the baby’s oral health. Vertical transmission of mutans streptococci (MS), which is principal group of bacteria responsible for dental caries transfer from mothers to infants, is well documented. So mothers have to take care of oral health before they plan for a baby. Horizontal transmission of MS from sibling, father and family members, like sharing of spoons is also possible.

Oral hygiene of new born before teeth erupts; MS colonization of an infant may occur from the time of birth. So cleaning the gum pads (before teeth erupt) and tongue using a wet gauze or clean cloth after feeding has to be done. Breastfeeding has to be given till 6months to 1 year for overall wellbeing of the baby. Prolonged breast feeding more than 7 times after 1 years or bottle feeding during night time may lead to baby bottle tooth decay or ECC early childhood caries.

2. When should the child’s first dental check-up be scheduled?

First dental visit should be as soon as the first tooth erupts or not late as first birthday of the baby.

dental care

3. Any tips to ease the discomfort in teething babies and also what diet should a baby take while teething

Teething is a physiological process of tooth eruption. Some may have sore gums, drooling and discomfort during eruption of teeth. This can be overcome by soothing the gums with cold teething ring or cold carrots etc. wipe the lips with soft tissues. During teething there may be inflammatory changes in the body which may lead to rise in temperature or loose stools. Pain during teething can be managed with paracetamol drops or syrup. There is no particular restriction of diet during teething process.

4. Some parents always complain that their child doesn’t like brushing. Any tips for such moms

First, start using finger brush when first teeth erupts then slowly into kids toothbrush which is colourful, cartoons and lights on it. We have to introduce bushing as a game the way child like it.

5. There is a lot of doubts regarding fluoride in baby’s tooth paste .What is your opinion

Fluoride reacts with the tooth surface and strengthens the tooth. Initially when the first tooth erupts we can use wet toothbrush alone, then slowly add smear or rice sized fluoride toothpaste for less than 3 years and pea-sized paste for 3 to 6 years. Apart from fluoride, diet rich in calcium phosphorus vitamins and minerals will also strengthens the teeth.

6. What precautions should a parent take to prevent decays?

baby teeth

Try to prevent vertical transmission of MS from mothers. Mother’s oral health is important. Make sure your baby takes his/her first dental visit. Avoid bottle feeding during night times. Reduce carbohydrate diet; avoid sticky sugar diet, no aerated drinks and no snacking between meals. Gargle after each food intake, brush before sleep.

1+ 1 = 0 (i.e) 1 pediatric dentist visit + at 1 years of age = zero cavity.

7. What parents can do if child has a toothache?

To comfort your child, rinse his/her mouth with warm salt, water and apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth on your child’s face if it is swollen. Do not put heat or pain balm on the sore area, but you may give the child acetaminophen for pain. Visit dentist as soon as possible.

8. Which paste and brush should we use for our children? When to change from finger toothbrush to the normal brush

Fluoridated tooth paste is good to prevent dental caries. Most of the available tooth paste has 500ppm of fluoride. Brushing must be supervised till 6 to 8 years of age. Because neuro-muscular coordination (swallowing) gets completed by 6 to 8 years of age. Finger brush can be used till 1 years of age, when baby get more than 2 teeth we can shift to infants tooth brush.

9. Does low calcium in diet lead to cavities.

Calcium is important for the calcification process of bone and teeth during intra uterine and after birth. Strongest calcified part in body is tooth. Calcium, other minerals and vitamins are important for pregnant women. Recommendation of Calcium 400 to 600mg/day and phosphorus 200 to 400 IU/day is for infants. Breastfeeding is vital for infants, which provided the essential nutrients. Low calcium in diet leads to low calcium in saliva, which in turn affects the remineralising ability of the tooth.

10. Some babies are slow teethers (teeth not coming.).When should a parent worry?

Chronology of tooth eruption is first tooth erupts at the age of 6 months to 8 months in the lower jaw. Sometimes the teeth will erupt slowly in the lower first or vice versa, so no need to worry till 12 months. If teeth are not erupted till 12months, then it’s better to consult a pediatric dentist. There may be some congenital or local factors affecting the tooth eruption. Eruption of complete 20 primary teeth occurs by 2 to 3 years of age.

kids teech solutions


Take home message:

  • Oral health of mother affects baby’s oral health.
  • Anticipatory guidance for infant oral health.
  • No bottle feeding during night times.
  • Avoid sticky sugar diet and snacking between meals.
  • Use fluoridated tooth paste after 6 years.
  • Establish first dental visit with a pediatric dentist.


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