Caring for Your Newborn’s Teeth
When your baby starts teething, the first question that comes to your mind is how to soothe him as he endures the painful process. But shortly thereafter, you may start to wonder just when and how you are supposed to start cleaning his teeth. You don’t want to start brushing too early, when his gums may be too sensitive. But you certainly don’t want him to suffer tooth decay or poor oral health because you waited too long. Are toothbrushes for babies even offered? How soon should you take your infant to the dentist? And what if your baby isn’t covered by your dental insurance? Do children under a certain age receive cheap dental care because they have fewer teeth? These are all questions that plague first-time parents, so remember that you’re not alone. Here are just a few tips to help you learn how to care for your baby’s teeth.
For starters, you need to know when to start taking your baby to the dentist, and a good rule of thumb is to go by the time your child has his first birthday (although you should really make an appointment with a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in). Most parents don’t realize that tooth decay can begin as soon as a baby has teeth, and especially once he starts consuming foods and beverages other than milk. In fact, even milk can be a problem if his mouth isn’t rinsed with water afterwards, or he’s allowed to fall asleep with a bottle in his mouth.
Your dentist will be able to advise you regarding a routine for proper pediatric dental care, as well as warning you of potential problems you might encounter should you fail to care for your baby’s teeth properly. You may be surprised to learn that you can actually attend to a newborn’s oral health from the moment he’s born by gently rubbing his gums and tongue with a clean cloth or even an infant toothbrush and toothpaste. And once his teeth begin to come in, you need to start brushing twice a day. Just remember that teething (generally occurring between six months and three years of age) can cause sensitivity, so be careful not to brush too hard.
So how do you go about brushing an infant’s teeth? You should start by purchasing a super-soft infant toothbrush (with a small head). Until the age of two, you should smear a little bit of toothpaste on with your finger. Since you’re advised to use a fluoridated paste, you don’t want your child to be able to swallow too much. After the age of two, it is recommended that you use a pea-sized amount. You should continue to brush your child’s teeth until the age of five, or until you are confident that he can do a good job on his own. And if he’s still sucking his thumb past the age of two or three, you need to wean him of the habit so that it doesn’t affect his bite.
Until your kids are able to care for their own oral health it is your responsibility to ensure that they are free of tooth decay, gum disease, and any other threats to their valuable chompers. So talk to a dentist and set up a healthcare routine as soon as possible. Your child will thank with a brilliant smile for years to come.