New parents may be unfamiliar with the oral hygiene tasks needed to care for a baby’s teeth and gums, but if you’re even asking the question, you’re off to a good start on taking care of your child’s teeth.
You actually can begin to clean the mouth even before your baby’s first teeth erupt. Wiping down the baby’s gums with a warm, wet washcloth after each feeding is important for eliminating food debris that oral bacteria can feed on. You can also give your child water to drink after each meal, which also will help to clear away any food that might linger in your child’s mouth.
After your child’s first tooth erupts, you can use a soft toothbrush and water to keep the teeth clean. Your pediatric dentist will also recommend that you add a small amount of un-fluoridated toothpaste when your baby turns two. When your child is old enough to understand that toothpaste shouldn’t be swallowed, you can introduce fluoridated toothpaste.
When you establish this early oral hygiene routine, it sends a signal to your child that this is an important activity that should be completed every day. It can establish the foundation of a lifetime of good oral health habits.
In addition to cleaning your child’s smile, a children’s dentist will also recommend that you limit your child’s exposure to bottles of milk or juice (which is even worse since many juices contain added sugar) outside of feeding times. For example, if you give your child a bottle prior to a nap, it can easily cause cavities.
Keep in mind that your baby should first see the children’s dentist for an initial exam around the time of his or her first birthday. This allows the dentist to establish a baseline from which the child’s dental development can be monitored. You and the dentist can then determine how frequently your child should be seen thereafter.
If you need further guidance on how to care for your baby’s teeth, don’t hesitate to call our office and consult with one of our knowledgeable staff members.