Some people have an idea that dental care for children isn’t important until the child is old enough to start losing teeth. This is nonsense. Dental care for infants actually starts as early as the pregnancy, itself. A mother should be eating healthily, making sure to get adequate amounts of the vitamins and minerals she and her baby need. This is important as it will lead to the formation of healthy teeth in the developing child.
However, you should start actively checking and taking care of your child’s teeth from the time they begin to teeth. Teething usually occurs at around six months of age and is characterized by the teeth erupting from the child’s gums as well as expressions of anxiety, discomfort, and pain in the child. You should be looking to keep these new teeth as healthy as possible, even if they will be lost during their development into young adults. And this is as much for those teeth that will later come in as it is to maintain the health of your child’s baby teeth and tiny mouth. This is because strong, healthy habits are built early – a child who has healthy baby teeth is more likely to have and keep healthy adult teeth.
Your First Steps
For starters, recognize that a baby’s teeth and gums are as delicate as the rest of their little bodies. And they need the same kind of care and attention when it comes to looking after them. But one of the first things you need to do as a parent is to examine your own oral hygiene. Saliva from other people can contain bacteria that will lead to tooth decay, and for this reason you should not share forks, spoons, or any other type of utensil with your baby.
Another thing to watch is how exactly you are sending your child to sleep. While it might be tempting, don’t send your child to sleep while feeding them. Especially when these foods contain sugar, as most baby foods and drinks tend to. If you do have to feed them, try and breastfeed. Remove the bottle as soon as possible, or as soon as the child is done feeding or is asleep, and don’t leave them to sleep with the bottle in their mouth.
When To Visit The Dentist
Teething is a troubling time for babies. You should take them to the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts, as this will make it far easier for the dentist to make sure that there are no issues that require their immediate attention. This is usually just to start cataloging the early dental development of your child, but any issues that may complicate the growth of their teeth or health of their gums and jaw can also be caught at this time. As there are issues with the teeth and jaw that may prove ongoing, this will also establish a history for them that later dentists will need to be able to rely upon.
How To Start Cleaning Their Teeth
There are a few ways to clean a baby’s teeth. The gums of a young infant should be gently cleaned with a soft cloth before their teeth begin to sprout. Nothing other than water is needed, so don’t worry about toothpaste or dental gel. Your baby might react badly to this at such a young age, and you could foster a negative association with the hygiene habit that you won’t need when it comes to teaching them to brush their own teeth.
When their teeth do finally come up, be smart about how you care for them. Harder bristle brushes can cause lesions within the more delicate gums, while adult toothpaste can be very strong to a child’s more sensitive taste buds. Use a very soft bristle brush and very child-friendly toothpaste. If you’re in doubt, ask your dentist who will usually have a specific recommendation to fit your needs.
Instill Healthy Dental Habits
Try and get your child into good dental hygiene habits from a very early age. Encourage them to brush by themselves as soon as their young hands are able to do this, and try and have them with you while you are brushing your own teeth, so they know that it is what they are supposed to do.
You should also begin flossing with them early. Show them how it is done carefully, make sure they don’t wrap the floss around their fingers too tightly, and be sure to keep the floss out of reach when you aren’t using it to avoid them choking on it. Take time and care when your child is learning how to brush, because this is a delicate part of their lives and they need to pick up the right habits.