For many years, a common misconception prevailed about baby’s teeth. This misconception was that oral hygiene for infants wasn’t important, that there was no point in taking care of a newborn’s gums as they have nothing to keep clean.
This is, of course, completely false.
Make no mistake, your child’s mouth still needs to be kept clean, as it will still harbor numerous bacteria that can prove harmful to the growth of their teeth, and potentially painful for your little one. If they should suffer from infected gums or gum disease, then the results can include anything from the teeth growing improperly to decaying and falling out entirely.
And it’s never too early to teach your child the basics of oral hygiene. Children learn from the day they are born. One of the most important lessons that you as a parent can instill in them is the importance of their personal oral hygiene. These lessons should begin from birth.
This will ensure that the child has the best possible start in regards to both their general health and their oral hygiene, providing strong, healthy teeth, immune system, gums and bones, but the work doesn’t stop there.
Cleaning Tiny Teeth
A small gauze, or light, non-abrasive cloth, should be given a small wash with warm water and used to clean the gums, wrapping the cloth around the tip of your finger and gently massaging the gums.
Never leave them alone with this cloth, as they may accidentally swallow it and choke. Try to avoid using toothpaste until after your child has developed their own teeth and is eating solid food. By this stage, they will have built up enough resistance to avoid being hurt by the toothpaste.
Typically, teeth will begin to erupt at six months. At this stage, you should be changing how you look after your infant’s oral hygiene. Complementing the gauze (which you should continue to use while your baby is bottle-feeding), you should introduce an extremely soft bristled brush. As said above, until the infant is eating solid food, keep away from toothpaste. Many brands of toothpaste have children-centered products, and these should be looked at, as their alkaline levels tend to be lower.
Your Child’s Dental Education
Something that should become a core part of your baby’s oral hygiene routine should be teaching them how to take care of their teeth themselves. Infants copy what they’re shown. So even as you are cleaning their gums, show them how to do it themselves. Make sure that the water you use on your cleaning cloth is drinkable and the cloth is clean, as there is a high chance your child will suck on it while they are learning how to clean their gums.
Once your child has started to master finer motor-skills and can handle the dexterity necessary behind brushing their teeth, you should start getting them to clean their teeth on their own as soon as possible. You can teach them the necessary movements beforehand simply by gently guiding their hand during cleaning sessions, which helps them learn and memorize the motions.
Brush your teeth in front of your child. Be thorough and careful, as poor or rushed brushing during instruction will lead to worse brushing during the child’s imitation. Your child will put as much emphasis on their own oral hygiene as you do, and for this reason, you should be giving them as much careful instruction and care as they deserve.
Poor oral hygiene may lead to issues down the line later in life, both in regards to their health and their own self-image. A healthy baby is a happy baby, after all.
Building Healthy Habits
There are certain bad habits a child can fall into at an early age. A sweet tooth is one of them. A baby should primarily be given milk and water. If you give them juice, be sure to dilute it with water, as the large amount of sugar contained in most concentrated juices is extremely harmful to the child’s developing gums.
Another thing you should never do is give a child soft drinks, as this not only destroys the teeth of infants but also potentially causes damage to developing gums.
There are other certain bad habits one can seek to break for an infant. Bottle-feeding should be carefully monitored. A child who is left to self-feed will probably take as much of whatever they are drinking as they can, and continue to suck from the bottle even after the substance is gone.
This can cause problems for teeth, as the child will probably chew the bottle’s top and damage their developing teeth and gums.Always feed your child yourself where possible, or watch closely and remove the bottle the moment it is empty. A child should also be slowly weaned off pacifiers, much for the same reason, but also because excessive sucking can eventually warp the developing gums.
Above all, watch out for any brown spots on your infant’s teeth, and call for a dentist immediately should they appear. This could be a sign of tooth decay or an infection, which may well damage your baby’s teeth entire and trigger gum diseases.