Parenting is tough, particularly during the first few months when you are figuring out feeding schedules and attempting to get your child to sleep through the night. During this tricky time, your child’s oral health may not be top of your priority list. However, even before your baby has teeth, it is important to take steps to keep their gums healthy.
The following are five tips you can use to establish a good dental hygiene routine right from the moment your baby is born.
1. Gently Clean Your Baby’s Gums
Even before babies develop their first teeth, their gums are vulnerable to harmful oral bacteria. Gently clean your new baby’s gums with a damp cloth to keep bacterial growth at bay and encourage healthy gum development. The best time to clean your baby’s gums is immediately after you feed them, as sugars from the milk can linger and encourage bacterial growth.
Cleaning your child’s gums has an added benefit: It helps your child get used to having their mouths handled in a loving and gentle way. This familiarity will make it easier for you to establish a teeth-cleaning routine when the time comes, as well as help to prepare your child for their first dental visit.
2. Don’t Share Bacteria With Your Child
You can help your baby maintain a clean mouth by avoiding passing on your own oral bacteria. Do not share utensils or toothbrushes with your baby. If the baby’s pacifier falls on the ground, do not put it in your own mouth to clean it. Instead, wash it with soap and water and rinse well before giving it back to your child.
3. Prevent Milk Bottle Cavities
Some parents like to give their child a bottle of milk or juice when they go to bed because they believe that having something to suck on will help the child to settle. Unfortunately, the natural sugars in the juice or milk encourage the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
Rather than give your toddler a bottle when they lie down, give milk only during feeding times. Do not give your child other sugary liquids, such as fruit juice, in a bottle, as these can promote bacterial growth. Stick to milk and water only.
4. Use Fluoride Toothpaste to Clean Your Child’s Teeth
Some parents worry about the effects of fluoride on their child’s health, but dentists insist that this common toothpaste ingredient is perfectly safe. In fact, using a toothpaste that contains fluoride could help to strengthen your child’s enamel, protecting them from cavities.
As soon as your child’s first tooth emerges, use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste on a soft toothbrush to clean the tooth and the surrounding gum tissue. Press very gently so as not to cause your child any discomfort. Once your child is three years old, you can increase the amount of toothpaste you use to a blob roughly the size of a pea.
5. Take Your Child to the Dentist
Regular dental checkups are very important for children. A good family dentist can check that the child’s teeth are developing normally and look for early signs of tooth decay. Dentists recommend that your child has their first dental checkup before their second birthday, but you may want to bring them in earlier to get personalised advice on caring for their teeth.
Dental Smile Clinic has many years of experience putting children at their ease during their first dental checkup. We cater to patients of all ages, so get in touch today to schedule appointments for your new baby and the rest of your family.