Caring for your baby’s teeth and gums are essential parts of a good oral care routine that your child will hopefully carry on into adulthood. However, did you know that proper oral care should happen even before your baby’s teeth come in?
For many babies, teeth will begin to erupt between their sixth and tenth months. But before these baby teeth appear, your child’s gums will need all the care they can get.
From the first few days after birth, begin cleaning your baby’s mouth by wiping the gums with a clean and damp washcloth to clear away leftover milk as well as any harmful bacteria. Do this at least twice a day, especially after feedings and right before bedtime.
When The First Few Teeth Appear
Your baby may be a little cranky at this point. Teeth coming through the gums can be an uncomfortable business. What you can do to ease her discomfort is to give her something to chomp on, like a cold (not frozen!) teething ring or dummy. You can also rub your clean fingers over her gums to ease some of her pain.
As soon as you see tiny teeth appearing, you can begin using an infant toothbrush. Wet the brush thoroughly to soften the bristles even more and use only a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice). Brush gently in circular motions on all sides of the teeth and gums. And finish by brushing the tongue.
The First Year
Congratulations! Your baby is not toothless anymore! As soon as your baby’s tooth comes in and before their first birthday, her first dental visit should take place. Dental cavities can happen as soon as the first teeth pop out, so it’s important to be as proactive as possible about caring for your baby’s teeth and gums.
Since your child can’t brush her teeth properly at this age yet, continue doing it for her until she is able to do it alone.
If you notice two teeth touching, it’s time to floss too!
Three To Six Years of Age
For children who are three years and older, you can start increasing the amount of toothpaste they use to a pea-size amount. Teach them to spit out the toothpaste after brushing, but the small amount should still be safe even if they accidentally swallow it.
At the age of six, your child’s first molars are likely to break through. This is the best time to consider dental sealants. According to the ADA, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars.
The sealants form a thin and hard protective barrier over the biting surface of a child’s molars to protect them from decay. It is non-invasive and non-painful.
Why Caring For Your Baby’s Teeth and Gums Is Important
While baby teeth may fall out and get replaced, it is still important to care for them because they act as the placeholders for the permanent teeth that will be coming in. Losing a baby tooth too early from lack of proper care may cause permanent teeth to come out misaligned or crooked.
Has your child seen the dentist yet? Book an appointment with us. We’re a family dentistry practice and kids have a special place in our hearts. Call us at 541.708.6288.