Dental Care for Your Baby

Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your baby’s first tooth? Follow these guidelines and your baby will be on his way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Caring for gums

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, his gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breast- 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 practice both clears your little one’s mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process of building a good habit of daily oral care.

Baby’s first tooth

When that first tooth makes an entrance, 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 or a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case, the bristles are soft and few.

At this stage, toothpaste isn’t necessary; just dip the brush in water before brushing. If your little one doesn’t react well to the introduction of a toothbrush, don’t give up. Switch back to a damp washcloth for a few months, then try the toothbrush again. During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything. A baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.

Brushing with toothpaste

When a few more teeth appear, you can start using toothpaste with your child’s brush. For the first two years, be sure to choose toothpaste that does not contain fluoride unless advised otherwise by your dentist. Too much fluoride can be dangerous for youngsters. At this stage, use only a tiny amount of toothpaste. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing to prepare him for fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste should not be swallowed at any age.  In addition, you should begin to floss teeth that touch.  Any flossing aids found at your local drugstore may be used.

Avoiding cavities

Don’t give your baby any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars present in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular tooth and gum cleaning is vital. Also, make sure your baby never goes to bed with a bottle. Sugary liquids in prolonged contact with teeth are a guarantee for early-childhood decay, also called baby-bottle caries.

First visit to the dentist

It’s recommended that you bring your baby in for a visit within six months of the first tooth’s eruption.  This visit usually takes place around his first birthday. Because decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely he is to avoid problems. We’ll look for any signs of early problems with your baby’s oral heath and discuss with you the best way to care for his 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 talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and he’ll intuit at an early age the importance of your good habits. As soon as he shows interest, give him a toothbrush of his own and encourage him to brush with you. (You’ll find toothbrushes with chunky, short handles that are easy for him to grip.) Most children don’t have the dexterity necessary to thoroughly clean and floss their own teeth until they’re nine years old, so you’ll have to help him brush and floss at night before bed. Try different tactics to make brushing and flossing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush/flosser with a favorite character on it, or singing 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!