Caring for your baby’s oral hygiene is just as important as other aspects of your child’s healthcare. Yet, it is one of the easiest to overlook.
Your baby’s teeth are preparing the way for their adult teeth. Those tiny teeth are holding space for your child’s adult teeth. Good oral hygiene should begin early to guard against tooth decay and oral infections.
Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth: Clean Teeth Early
As soon as your baby’s teeth come in clean them at least once a day. If your water supply is treated with fluoride you may simply use a little water on a soft, clean cloth. It is also easy to clean your baby’s teeth with a baby toothbrush that slips on the end of your finger and has a few very soft bristles. Gently rub your covered finger against your child’s teeth.
If your water is not fluorinated your dentist or pediatrician can give you a prescription for fluoride drops to use when you clean your baby’s teeth.
Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth: When to Visit the Dentist
Our dentist would not see the children until they were about two years old. Until that time our pediatric dentist advised us to continue to clean the teeth daily. Other dentists will see infants around the age of one.
The first visit to the dentist will simply be a quick check.
Before the age of two, if your baby’s teeth are discolored schedule a dental visit. It’s better to err on the side of safety. If you are unclear on how to clean your baby’s teeth, this will give you an opportunity to talk to your dentist or hygienist about cleaning your baby’s teeth correctly.
Caring for your Baby’s Teeth: Time to Brush
When the child reached the age of two, it’s time to use a dot of fluoride toothpaste on a small, soft child’s toothbrush.
Your child will probably want to try to brush their own teeth. It’s fine to give them a turn, as long as you supervise closely so that the child doesn’t jab their mouth with the toothbrush.
Do not leave the job of cleaning their teeth up to your small child. In order to ensure that their teeth are clean you should help your child brush their teeth until they are able to understand and complete proper brushing. Some dentists say this should be between the ages of 6 and 8.
Your child may be able to brush their own teeth sooner with supervision. As your child matures take the time to explain how to brush – front, back, sides, teeth, and gums – and help them learn to hold their toothbrush correctly.
Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth: Toothpaste
It only takes a small drop of toothpaste to clean your baby and growing child’s teeth. A huge benefit to parents these days is the availability of tasty flavored toothpastes, like watermelon and berry. It’s much easier to get small children to brush their teeth with flavored, fluorinated toothpastes.
Even if they are eager to use the toothpaste on their own, you should continue to assist and supervise when young children brush their teeth.
Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth: Keep Sugar out of the Baby Bottle
Sugary drinks, including soda and sweet tea should not be given to your baby. Even juice, milk, and formula have sugar in them. Once your child has consumed their milk, juice, or formula put the bottle away. Your baby should not be given their bottle as a pacifier throughout the day.
The bottle can become a breeding ground for bacteria that leads to tooth decay. Sugar feeds bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth: Don’t Dip the Pacifier in Sugar
Just like a sugary bottle, a pacifier dipped in honey, sugar, or a sugary substance becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that cause tooth decay.
As a parent, I found this one of the biggest battles to overcome with family and friends. It is important, regardless of what others think, to protect your child from painful tooth decay.
The object is to provide good oral health and prevent tooth decay and cavities. Decayed teeth can be painful and can become infected. Decaying teeth lead to cavities, which must be filled.
“A Healthy Mouth for Your Baby,” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
“Pediatric Tooth Decay,” Yourdentistryguide.com