Good oral care begins before a baby even cuts their first tooth. Believe it or not, your baby actually formed teeth while still in the womb. These baby teeth lie just below the gum line until teething begins and they pop their way through. Since your child is born with these teeth, it is necessary to begin good oral care even before those first teeth can be seen. Learn more here about what it takes to become a pediatric dentist.
Birth and Toddler
The minute your baby is born, you should be sure to properly take care of their teeth. Immediately after eating, take a clean, damp towel and wipe it over the baby’s gums. This helps to remove any bacteria that could be present from a bottle or breastfeeding. Once the baby’s teeth puncture through the surface, apply a fluoride toothpaste using an infant toothbrush and massage it gently over the teeth. Only use a very small amount of toothpaste to avoid swallowing too much. Be sure to do this twice daily. After the baby has developed more teeth and the surfaces actually make contact, begin to use floss between the teeth to remove additional bacteria.
At two years of age, kids can be taught to spit to avoid swallowing toothpaste. There are a few things you can do as a parent to ensure they don’t swallow too much toothpaste. First, don’t allow them to use more than a small dab of it on their toothbrushes. Second, monitor the activity. Third, don’t encourage them to use a glass of water to clean out their mouths afterward.
Once your baby is able to hold their own bottle, don’t put them to bed with it. Doing so can promote tooth decay in infants and cause them a number of dental issues. Also, only keep babies on a bottle as long as necessary. Try to encourage them to use a cup as soon as they are able to sit up and hold it on their own. Sippy cups and regular cups with straws are much better for maintaining a baby’s oral health.
As your child gets older, have them avoid sugar when possible. Substitute healthy snacks for sugary snacks. Substitute water for soda and juices, especially between meals. Prevent them from eating foods that are high in acids to prevent the decay of tooth enamel. If they eat any of these types of food, have them brush immediately after eating to avoid the sugars from lying on their teeth and causing decay that can lead to cavities and other dental problems.
Encourage Good Oral Habits
From the start, encourage good oral routines with your kids. Once they are able to walk and hold the brush on their own, have them brush at least twice a day. Have them brush right after breakfast in the morning and again at night right before they go to bed. Encouraging a third brushing in between after lunch is helpful too. Encourage them to floss as well once a day before bed.