Caring For Your Baby’s Oral Health
Helping your child establish good oral health habits can ensure that they develop a healthy set of primary teeth. This will not only help them chew properly, but it can also aid in speech development and the formation of healthy adult teeth. You do not even have to wait for your child’s first tooth to help them care for their teeth and gums.
Gum Care for Infants
You can care for your baby’s gums beginning at birth. Use a soft, moistened piece of gauze or a washcloth to gently wipe and massage your baby’s gums a minimum of twice a day or after feedings and at bedtime. This helps eliminate bacteria that can cling to the gums. These bacteria create the sticky plaque that can damage baby teeth as they develop. Cleaning your child’s gums will help them get used to the process of oral care so that it will be easier to transition to a toothbrush when the time comes.
The Teething Process
It can take up to two years for all of your child’s teeth to work their way through the gums. The process can be quite uncomfortable and is often characterized by swollen gums, a slight temperature, irritability, and drooling. Teething rings, rubbing the gums with a clean finger or cloth, and infant pain relievers containing acetaminophen can help alleviate the discomfort.
Caring for the First Teeth
Once that first tooth erupts, your child is ready to graduate to a toothbrush. You should choose a toothbrush that has a small head, large handle, and soft bristles. You can start by just wetting the brush to let your child get used to the sensation. After that, you can use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste that is approximately the size of a grain of rice. You can start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste at about age three. You should continue to assist your child with brushing their teeth until they can hold the toothbrush and rinse and spit on their own. You can also help prevent tooth decay by not giving your child bottles filled with sodas, juice, or other sugary drinks. Children should not be given bottles or sippy cups when put down for naps or to bed at night to avoid a phenomenon known as bottle tooth decay.
When to See the Dentist
You should contact a dentist if you have any questions or if you see any signs of decay. Cavities will typically appear as pits or white or brown spots on the teeth. Children should receive their first dental checkup by age one. This is an excellent opportunity to ask your dentist about issues such as teething, thumb sucking, fluoride treatments, and general care for primary teeth. Contact South Temple Dental today for more information!