Even though your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, it’s important to start thinking about oral care early to set the tone for a healthy mouth. It has been found that 42 percent of kids between the ages of 2 and 11 have tooth decay. This is why it’s important to get your infant used to taking care of his or her teeth immediately.
Even baby’s need some level of dental care. Use our parent’s guide to learn about infant oral care and the rest of the early years.
Cleaning The Gums
You don’t need to use a toothbrush or toothpaste, but wiping the gums after eating helps remove sugar and bacteria from the mouth. You just need a clean, damp washcloth on your finger and gently rub your baby’s gums after eating. This will also help your baby get used to you cleaning his mouth and may prevent some fuss as he gets older.
Watch What Goes In The Mouth
It’s very important to be careful what goes in your baby’s mouth-not only for safety from bacteria as well as choking. Bacteria causes cavities and tooth decay, so it can be considered an infection.
If your baby puts unclean things in his or her mouth, bacteria could spread. Make sure you always clean your baby’s bottles and pacifiers with water and not your saliva to prevent spreading germs.
Infant Oral Care With Teething
Even though your newborn does not have teeth you can see, there are some partially developed teeth waiting to pop out above 3 to 9 months from birth. Your baby will get all 20 primary teeth by age 3.
Teething begins with the lower two front teeth. Then the four incisors on both the lower and upper jaw begin to emerge. Molars come next and then the eye teeth.
Babies may get really sore gums when teething starts. You can help ease teething discomfort by using wet gauze and gently massaging your baby’s gums. You also try giving your child a clean teething ring to chew on.
Care for the First Teeth
Getting that first tooth is pretty exciting, but you may wonder how do you take care of that tooth. After your baby gets her first tooth, you need to get some starter toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should use a fluoride-free toothpaste with a mild flavor to keep your baby safe if she swallows some toothpaste.
Make sure you get a baby toothbrush that fits easily into a smaller mouth. You should brush your baby’s teeth at least twice a day once that first tooth arrives.
Get all sides of the tooth with the brush and the gums around it. If your baby has multiple teeth, you could try gently flossing to remove any debris in between the teeth.
It’s important to take good care of these baby teeth, so they don’t fall out too soon. Healthy teeth guide the permanent teeth, and bad teeth can cause gum issues. You want your baby to have healthy teeth to chew and talk properly.
Watch Out for Thrush
There are a few mouth diseases to watch for with your baby. Thrush is a common yeast infection in the mouth of infants. This infection is irritating but treatable.
Symptoms of thrush happen suddenly and include:
- White patches in the mouth, on the tongue, and inside the cheeks
- Tissue under these patches may bleed
- Redness around the white patches
- Pain in the mouth
- Cracked corners of the mouth
- Patches of white that resemble milk but can’t be cleaned
If thrush goes untreated, these white spots or lesions will begin to grow in size and number. They can be rather tricky to get rid of with treatment.
With treatment, thrush should disappear after 2 weeks. You will probably still have to monitor the condition.
The doctor may prescribe gel or drops to prevent the spread of thrush in the mouth. You cannot put this medication on the tongue. If you breastfeed your baby, you may have to treat your nipples to prevent the infection from spreading between you and your baby.
If your child uses a pacifier, be sure you use all the safety precautions. Don’t fasten a string around your child’s neck. Your child could accidentally get strangled.
Get a pacifier that has nontoxic material and ventilating holes on both sides. It should be one large piece that your child can’t accidentally swallow instead of several parts.
Never put anything sweet on the pacifier like honey or sugar. That bacteria and sugar stays in your babies mouth and can cause cavities. Make sure there are no rips in the pacifier so bacteria can’t get in these holes and then spread in your child’s mouth.
Bottles and Tooth Decay
If you know what causes baby bottle tooth decay, you can prevent it. If your baby has sugary substances like formula, fruit juice, or milk on his teeth for a long period of time it can lead to cavities.
This is why it’s important to always wipe off your child’s teeth before he or she goes to bed or takes a nap, especially right after having a bottle. These cavities can develop on any tooth and cause problems down the road.
The First Dental Visit
Once your baby gets his or her first tooth, it’s time for another first-a visit to the dentist. The American Dental Association recommends taking your baby to the dentist before age 1.
This gives you adequate time to discuss any concerns and make sure you are caring for your baby’s teeth correctly. Infant oral care is the beginning of good oral hygiene for your child. If you are worried about your baby’s teeth, the dentist is there to help you.
Doug Lewis Dentistry is here to be your family’s dentist. We can treat all members of your family and also assist you with any cosmetic dentistry.