A lot of new parents find themselves wondering what to do about their baby’s oral health. After all, baby’s have no teeth to investigate, clean, or discuss with a dentist, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t coming soon nor that the baby’s mouth should be ignored. Starting practices for genuine good oral health as early as the first few months is the best way to start a lifetime of hygienic practices to keep your child on track throughout the eruption of their baby teeth and eventual growth of their adult set. Here is a list of things to keep in mind with your young baby and the future of their teeth:
- First visit by first birthday – Your child is at risk for tooth decay early on, so make sure that by the first birthday they’ve had a proper visit with a dentist specializing in pediatrics.
- Decay can start early – as soon as your baby’s diet includes anything other than breast milk, decay is possible. One major reason for this is the bottle. The constant sucking, bad habits, and the type of liquid being used in the bottle all play into creating decay. Juice should be avoided in the bottle–it’s better to offer it with a meal or snack–and your baby should never be allowed to fall asleep with their bottle. It’s also important the bottle be stopped within the proper time usually around 12-14 months of age. If you have concerns, discuss them with your dentist.
- Thumb sucking: Thumb sucking is more than common among infants, it’s expected. Most infants will quit this habit by the age of 2, but it’s very important to keep an eye on it as thumb sucking is heavily linked to further problems of decay. Pediatric dentists have strategies to help you with your little one’s bad habit if it continues beyond the normal age. Usually at age 3 is when you should seek the help of a professional.
- Cleaning: Your baby obviously can’t hold a toothbrush, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep their mouth clean! Grab a soft cloth and some water and start gently brushing their gums after every feeding. once the first teeth appear, you can find small toothbrushes made for their mouths and use a peas-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste.