4 Tips for Caring Your Baby's Teeth
Caring for your child's dental health from an early age is important to give their teeth a healthy foundation to grow and develop. Because babies' and toddlers' teeth and gums are much softer than adults', you have to take extra care to prevent decay. Here are four tips to help you care for your child's teeth.
Wash the Gums Before Teeth Grow in
Even before your baby's teeth have grown in, you need to take steps to prevent buildup of bacteria on the gums. Sugars from breast milk and formula and particles from baby food can stick to the gums and allow sugar-digesting bacteria to form plaque on the gums. When the baby teeth do erupt, plaque on the gums can begin the process of decaying the teeth almost immediately.
To keep your baby's gums free of plaque, you can gently wipe them with a soft, damp washcloth or a piece of gauze at least once daily. It is a good idea to get into a habit of doing this every day at bath time or after your baby has been fed the last time for the day. Toothpaste is not required, as plaque clings much more loosely to gums than it does to teeth.
Use a Baby Toothbrush and Toothpaste
As soon as your child's first teeth start to emerge (usually around six months, but sometimes as late as 12 months), you should start a routine of brushing every morning and every night. Until your child is old enough to spit while they brush, use non-fluoridated toothpaste or only a thin smear of fluoridated toothpaste to limit how much they swallow.
When buying a toothbrush for your child, look for one one with a soft head and grip that will easily fit your child's mouth without causing comfort. You should also make sure the handle is big enough for you to easily hold onto while brushing their teeth.
Never Put Your Baby to Sleep With a Bottle
Understandably, the longer your baby's teeth are exposed to sugars, the higher the chances are that tooth decay will occur. Babies who are bottle-fed and toddlers that frequently drink from sippy cups can sometimes develop a unique form of cavities called baby bottle tooth decay. This type of decay is focused on the front teeth that are in direct contact with the nipple of the bottle or the tip of a sippy cup.
The most important thing you can do to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is to never let your child take milk, juice, or other sugary drinks to bed. Children can fall asleep with the cup or bottle in their mouth, allowing the sugars from the drink to stay on their teeth all night long. Additionally, you can limit sugary drinks by only allowing them with meals and giving your toddler water between meals.
Schedule Your Child's First Dental Visit Early
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child sees a dentist by their first birthday or within six months after their first tooth appears. Starting your child's dental visits early not only helps set a routine of regular checkups and cleanings, but also gives the dentist an excellent opportunity to check for early signs of dental problems.
On your child's first visit, the dentist will look for cavities on your child's teeth, check the alignment of your child's bite, and assess the overall health of the teeth and gums. The dentist will also provide a teeth cleaning if necessary and discuss tips to help keep your child's teeth healthy.
Promoting good dental habits is one of the best things you can do as a parent to keep your child's teeth healthy for a lifetime. For more tips, visit resources like http://www.artofdentistryinstitute.com.