Some parents do not start worrying about their baby’s oral care until the first teeth begin erupting in the little one’s mouth, and others do not even think much of it then. However, it is important to begin oral care for your child right away, even before the first baby teeth emerge. Harmful bacteria with the potential to cause tooth decay can begin growing in the mouth as soon as your child is exposed to it. As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, he or she is at risk of developing tooth decay.
Some parents think that the baby teeth do not matter because they will eventually fall out, but this is not true. Problems with baby teeth can impede your child’s speech and make it more difficult to chew, which can negatively affect nutrition. Premature loss of baby teeth can cause permanent teeth to come in crooked.
Care of Baby’s Gums
Your baby’s oral care should start early with cleaning the gums after every feeding. It is important to do this gently with a soft, clean cloth or piece of gauze moistened with water. You can also use a finger brush made of silicone of soft rubber. If you cannot find a finger brush on your own, your dentist or pediatrician may be able to help you.
Brushing Baby’s Teeth
You can continue to use a finger brush once the first sets of teeth start coming in, or you can graduate to a toothbrush as soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts. However, choose a toothbrush that is made for babies rather than one designed for an adult, or even an older child. You should look for the following qualities in a baby’s toothbrush:
- Small head
- Large handle
- Soft bristles
When cleaning the gums or brushing the teeth, it is important not to use anything that is too hard. Stiff bristles could cause pain and irritation, potentially causing your child to fear and resist brushing.
Until recently, experts did not recommend that children use toothpaste containing fluoride until age 2 or 3. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has recently revised this recommendation, meaning that you can use fluoride toothpaste as soon as your child has one or more teeth to brush. As long as you are careful to apply a smear no larger than a grain of rice on your child’s toothbrush, it should not be harmful even if he or she swallows it, and fluoride can help prevent tooth decay.
Do what you can to make brushing as positive and pleasant an experience for your child as possible. This can help to encourage a lifelong healthy habit. For more information, or to request an appointment, contact an office.
Resource: Dental Care