Infant Dental Care: What you need to know about
Taking care of your child’s oral health is something that begins before your ever see the first tooth. By performing simple daily care and following a few basic rules, you can help ensure that your child’s teeth will emerge strong and healthy and stay that way for a lifetime.
The facts about Infant Dental:
My baby isn’t even teething yet. What kind of oral care can I do?
Beginning when your baby is a newborn, use a wet washcloth or gauze pad to gently wipe the gums after every feeding. This removes plaque and any residue from food that could damage emerging teeth. Plus, the gentle rubbing will feel good when baby begins teething.
I’ve heard about something called ‘baby bottle tooth decay’ What is that?
Baby bottle tooth decay (your dentist might call it “Early Childhood Caries”) happens when you put your baby to bed with a bottle or let your baby suck on a bottle for extended periods. This can cause the sugars in milk, formula or juice to pool around the gums and form plaque, which can harm baby teeth before they even emerge. To prevent it, limit your baby’s use of a bottle to feeding times only.
When should I stop using a bottle altogether?
As a general rule, children should be fully weaned from the bottle by about 14 months. You can begin the transition to a sippy cup at about 6 months. Remember, the same rules about bedtime and extended usage apply to sippy cups.
What can I do to help with teething?
Beginning at about 6 months and continuing to age 3, your baby will have periods of tooth eruption, preceded by teething. Symptoms can include more drooling than normal, mild sniffles, crankiness and sore gums in the affected area. Sucking on a clean teething ring, a cold, wet washcloth or a chilled spoon can really help with discomfort. Some babies like it if you gently rub their gums with your clean finger. Over the counter infant pain relievers or topical pain relief gels can also help-just be sure to check with your baby’s pediatrician before using them.
I finally see my baby’s first tooth! What should I do now?
Just remember this rule: First tooth equals first visit. Ideally, your baby’s first dental checkup should be shortly after the first tooth erupts. This will allow the dentist to evaluate your baby’s overall oral health and create a plan for continuing care, including checkups every six months. Plus, it helps to start getting your baby used to the experience of a dental checkup.
Do I really need to brush that one and only tooth?
It may seem silly at first but its an absolute necessity to brush that one little tooth (which will soon be joined by many more). Use a soft infant toothbrush and water (NO fluoride toothpaste yet). Brush the tooth itself, along with all surrounding gum tissue twice a day.
I’ve heard conflicting information about fruit juice. Is it good for my baby?
Even the healthiest juices contain a lot of sugar that can contribute to tooth decay. Juice is fine in moderation-limit the amount to no more than 1/2 cup (4oz) per day and offered at meal times only; don’t let your baby continually sip on a bottle or sippy cup with juice. Be sure its 100% fruit juice with no added sugar and not a “fruit drink” which is higher in sugar and offers fewer nutritional benefits. Also, check with your pediatrician to learn what age is appropriate for your baby to have juice.
Is it true that thumb sucking can give my baby crooked teeth later?
Sucking their thumbs, fingers or a pacifier is one of the first way babies learn to sooth themselves. It’s perfectly normal and most will stop gradually and naturally around the age of 2. If your child continues past that, begin to discourage it after age 4. If it goes on too long, it can cause crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems.
Is it okay to test temperature of the formula by tasting a little from the bottle?
NO. Doing so can cause the transfer of oral bacteria that leads to plaque. Don’t share utensils or cups with your baby and don’t clean a pacifier or bottle nipple by placing it in your own mouth.
Things to remember:
*Clean your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth after every feeding.
*Sooth teething pain with a teething ring, cold, wet washcloth or chilled spoon.
*First tooth equals first visit to the dentist.
*Schedule regular checkups every six months.
*Never put your baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup.
*Don’t share cups, utensils or place the baby’s pacifier in your mouth.
*Enjoy watching your baby’s smile change as new teeth emerge.
Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Infant Dental Care pamphlet and is credited to them. I have never used the service before but if you ever have any additional information, please call the above numbers.