It may be six months or more before you see your baby’s first tooth emerge and several months after that until they have a mouth full of teeth. However, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass on your baby’s oral hygiene until then. Many parents do not realize the importance of early preventative dental care for babies. Here are some answers to common parent questions about their baby’s dental care at home:
- Should I Clean My Baby’s Gums?
- Yes! Believe it or not, your oral care efforts should begin during infancy. Gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, soft washcloth. This will not only remove bacteria on the gums but can also help you baby adjust and be more comfortable with tooth brushing habits later on.
- What Is Best Way to Brush My Baby’s Teeth?
- Start using fluoride toothpaste as soon as you see your child’s first tooth erupt. This is typically around 6 months old. It is important that you only use a tiny amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. When using such a small amount, there is no need to worry about rinsing or spitting. Buy a baby toothbrush with extra soft bristles. Your baby is likely to have other teeth waiting to emerge under the gum line so gentle massaging strokes will probably be more tolerated. As always, try your best to make tooth brushing a fun and rewarding routine, even at such a young age. Make a habit of brushing twice a day!
- When Should My Child Visit the Dentist?
- The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend taking your baby to the dentist as soon as his first tooth emerges. Ask your dentist how early they suggest seeing your child. Gilreath Family Dentistry frequently sees children beginning at age 3. At this age, Dr. Gilreath is primarily concerned with developing good oral habits (brushing and flossing) as well as evaluating and treating any decay. Early detection and prevention is critical when it comes to your child’s teeth, about 40 percent of children have tooth decay by age 5!
Just like adults, your baby’s mouth is a critical component of their overall health. Always talk to your pediatrician or dentist about any concerns you have. Beginning an oral care routine in the very early months of your baby’s life will help establish healthy habits as they grow. Are you doing everything you can to ensure your baby’s smile is a healthy one?
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,