Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for your baby’s first tooth? Follow these guidelines, and your son or daughter will be on the way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Dental Care for Your Baby
Caring for Gums
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, the gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breastfeeding or bottle feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby’s gum tissue. This clears your little one’s mouth of any remaining food and begins the process for building good daily oral care habits.
Baby’s First Tooth
When that first tooth appears, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time and a brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case, there are only a few soft bristles.
Only use a smear of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, to brush your child’s teeth. Spitting is encouraged, however, since such a small amount of toothpaste is used, swallowing is ok.
During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a a chilled teething tool is an excellent option
The AAPD recommends minimizing exposure to any sort of sweetened liquids, such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular teeth and gum cleaning is vital. Also, make sure your baby doesn’t go to bed with anything other than water. Sugary liquids in prolonged contact with teeth are a recipe for decay.
First Visit to the Dentist
We recommend that your child’s first visit occur upon eruption of their first tooth or first birthday, whichever comes first. Since decay can occur in even the smallest teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely they are to avoid problems. We’ll look for any signs of early problems with your baby’s oral health and check in with you about the best way to care for your little one’s teeth. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular checkups.
Setting a Good Example
As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and they will learn early on the importance of good habits. As soon as your child shows interest, offer an appropriately sized toothbrush of their own and encourage your toddler to “brush” with you. Most children don’t have the dexterity to thoroughly clean their own teeth until they’re about 7 or 8, so you’ll have to step in and assist. Try different tactics to make brushing fun. Use flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a fun character on it, or sing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!