According to the CDC, 41% of children under the age 11 end up with tooth decay in their baby teeth. Since tooth decay is such a problem in children, it's important that parents begin oral care before the first tooth appears. If you have a new baby, take care of your baby's oral health by following these oral care tips.
Even before teething occurs, parents must begin taking care of their baby's oral health. From birth, clean your baby's gums after each feeding. To clean your baby's gums, moisten a soft washcloth and wrap it around a finger. Use the moist washcloth to massage the infant's gum tissues gently.
Since the bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transferred between individuals, never test a baby bottle using your mouth. Avoid cleaning bottle nipples or pacifiers by placing them in your mouth.
Baby bottle tooth decay is a problem in infants. To prevent this problem, never allow your baby to go to bed with a bottle of juice or formula.
After the First Tooth
The first baby tooth usually comes in when babies are six to eight months old. Once your baby has a tooth, you need to change your baby's oral care. While you should continue cleaning your baby's gums, you'll also need to begin brushing the new tooth. Use a soft-bristled, child's toothbrush on the tooth with a bit of water.
As your baby begins eating solid foods and drinking from a cup, start promoting healthy eating habits. Limit sweetened foods and beverages to reduce that risk of tooth decay. Parents also need to begin checking out the baby's gums and teeth regularly. Look for any small brown or white spots on the teeth, which could be signs of cavities.
Your baby's first oral exam should be scheduled before your child turns one or within six months after your baby has his first tooth.
Special Oral Care Products for Babies
A dentist may recommend some special oral care products for your baby. If you want to get your baby used to using toothpaste, talk to your dentist about a tooth cleanser that is safe for babies to swallow. Until your child is two or three years old, you should not use toothpaste that contains fluoride. However, fluoride is important for your baby's oral health, so talk to your baby's dentist, like Jeffrey S. Thaller DMD, about infant fluoride supplements if you don't have fluoridated water.