Even though they won’t be around forever, little teeth are important too. Start taking care of your baby’s teeth early on and set him or her up for a healthy mouth.
Here are the top baby teeth care tips you should remember as a new parent:
1. Wipe Toothless Gums
Even before your baby gets his or her first tooth, use a soft cloth or rubber finger cover to wipe their gums. This wipes away excess food and gets them used to having their mouth cleaned, preparing for toothbrushes and flossing later on.
2. Limit Bottle at Bedtime
When a baby takes a bottle to bed, he or she will often fall asleep while sucking, leaving liquid pooling in the mouth. Milk–or worse, juice–in a bottle at bedtime can cause tooth decay when the sugars in the liquid are left to sit on teeth for extended periods of time.
3. Drink Water
Rinsing baby’s mouth with water after every meal helps remove sugars and starches from the mouth, especially most baby foods. Offer baby water after every meal time to help minimize the time sugars are left on teeth.
4. Avoid Sugar
Babies are not born with a natural sweet tooth, and are happy with foods that are naturally flavored, even those adults would consider bland. Avoid foods with added sugar, and dilute even fruit juice to start teeth off healthy.
5. Start the Toothbrush
At around age 2, or whenever your baby has multiple teeth, start using a soft toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste to clean teeth. Help him or her learn the brushing movements, but make sure to brush more thoroughly for them as they practice.
6. Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by fighting bacteria that causes plaque. Topical fluoride is the most effective way to give your teeth fluoride and is now recommended by the American Dental Association for infant’s teeth. Use a small smear on the toothbrush for children under 3 years old, and a pea-sized amount for children over 3.
7. Visit the Dentist
The American Dental Association recommends your child visit the dentist for the first time within six months of getting their first tooth. While every child’s dental needs will be a little different, taking good care of all teeth even before your first trip to the family dentist will help keep them healthy.
Think of the Consequences
Even though it may not seem to matter as much as adult teeth, taking care of baby teeth is extremely important for oral care now and later. Not taking care of these first teeth can cause issues with permanent teeth later on as well as:
- Causing cavities – Teeth can grow in with improper enamel development which make even the permanent teeth more prone to cavities
- Forming bad habits – Deprioritizing healthy teeth now will be a hard habit to break later on. Show your kids that their teeth matter now for a lesson they will remember.
- Time-consuming and traumatizing – When a child has multiple cavities, they must be filled at separate visits, as young children cannot handle extensive work in a single sitting. This is often difficult to accomplish for parents’ schedules and upsetting for the child to have to undergo multiple times.
- Long-Lasting anxiety – Almost all adult patients who have dental anxiety can link their distress as a direct result of poor childhood experiences
It’s never too early to think of your little one’s tiny, pearly whites. Set your baby up for a healthy mouth and worry-free tooth care by starting early and starting strong.