Before you go gaga with all the things you need to do for your newborn baby, do not forget that he has soon-to-emerge teeth and delicate gums that you have to deal with as well. Caring for a newborn is no easy job and every little part of him should be given attention, and this includes his dental health. Knowing and learning how to care for your baby’s teeth and gums as early as now is one sure way of gifting your child with good oral health and a perfect set of teeth when he grows up.
Here are some helpful pointers that you can follow in every stage of your little one’s oral growth.
1. Even though a newborn infant doesn’t have any visible teeth yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can ignore the insides of his mouth. Healthy gums result to healthy teeth and since a fetus has already grown tooth buds within the gums during his 6th or 7th week inside the womb, keeping his gums clean and well is like setting a good foundation for the actual teeth to grow in after 5 to 6 months. Simply use a clean damp gauze or cloth to wipe the gums clean by gently rubbing it. You may also use your fingers as long as they are clean. Do this every time he takes a bath.
2. When baby starts showing his first tooth during his 5th or 6th month, then you can also buy his very first toothbrush. Baby toothbrush should have a small head, very soft bristles and a big handle which makes it easier for you to hold and control. Like his first 6 months without teeth, you can still do away without using toothpaste as long as you clean your baby’s teeth, gums and mouth every day. The proper way to do this is to move the toothbrush along the surface of the teeth, both in and out. Also, do not neglect to swipe the tongue once to remove food residue and prevent bacteria from proliferating. Do this twice a day and do not forget to replace the brush once it looks worn out. Moreover, if you choose to use baby toothpaste, choose a brand that does not contain fluoride.
3. From 6 to 12 months old or as soon as your baby is showing some teeth, you may also start bringing him to the dentist. The family dentist or one who specializes in treating children’s teeth (pediatric dentist), can help drive tooth decay away. Baby teeth that are tooth decay-free result to stronger and healthier permanent teeth. Introducing your little one to the dentist at an early age is a good way for him to learn about the value of having good oral hygiene and help develop a relationship with the dentist. This will also pave the way for early detection of dental problems that your oral healthcare provider can help correct before it ruins your baby’s smile.
4. A child’s developing set of teeth needs just the right amount of fluoride to avoid tooth decay. It helps toughen tooth enamel that enables it to resist acid and bacteria better. But an important note to remember is that fluoride toothpaste should only be used by children from age 2 and up or as soon as they understand that it should not be swallowed. A tiny pea-sized amount is enough. You must know that fluoride is also present in municipal water and even in bottled water. This should help you understand that it is very easy for a child to take in too much of this mineral which may result to fluorosis. It is a condition that causes white spots to appear on your little one’s permanent teeth. If you don’t want your kid to have spotty teeth, then watch the fluoride!
5. Never let your baby sleep with a feeding bottle in his mouth. Milk can collect in the mouth and cause tooth decay. This goes the same with sippy cups. Don’t leave it with your baby inside the crib or allow him to toddle around with it especially if it contains milk or juice.
Kids do not know any better when it comes to taking care of their teeth and gums. So, it is the parents’ duty to teach their kids about proper dental care and to help them develop healthy teeth and gums as they grow older.