My child has been breastfed for two-and-a-half years. Can his nightly breastfeeds cause tooth decay? Is there a cure for decay of teeth in Ayurveda?

A proper dental regimen should begin even before your baby’s first tooth appears. Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean moist cloth on a daily basis. As soon as a baby’s front teeth push through the gums, decay can occur. Babies can develop tooth decay if good feeding habits are not practised. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle can harm their teeth; sucking on a bottle throughout the day can be equally damaging to young teeth. Decayed or discoloured front teeth are usually signs of bottle mouth. When the sugars from juice or milk remain on a baby’s teeth for hours, they can eat away at the enamel.

Until your child can brush his own teeth, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush. If fluoride toothpaste is used, use only a pea-size. Many parents think baby teeth aren’t important because they’re eventually replaced by permanent ones. If the milk teeth are not cared for properly they can decay, leading to gum infection and affecting permanent teething too. Meet a dental doctor for proper advice.

Ayurveda suggests using herbs having spicy, bitter and astringent tastes for teeth cleaning. Smoke-burned rice husks (umikkari) made into a charcoal, finely powdered and combined with rock salt or sea salt or clove or cinnamon powder is a commonly used tooth powder in South India.

[Your child may be using too much toothpaste]

You may also use mango leaves, neem powder, khadira (Acacia katechu), and licorice powder, individually or mixed together, for teeth cleaning.

Check at an Ayurveda store for products such as Dasanakanthi choornam and Khadiradi gulika, which can be used as a substitute for toothpaste.

Gargling with sesame oil has been extensively used as a traditional Indian remedy for strengthening teeth, gums and jaws, and to prevent tooth decay or bleeding gums. Gargle daily with a teaspoon of sesame oil added to half glass of lukewarm water after brushing teeth. Or wipe teeth and gums with sesame oil after brushing.

Dr VL Shyam is a Dubai-based Ayurveda practitioner. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.