New parents often tell us that they thought they prepared as much as possible, but were still amazed at how much nobody told them. We’ve all been there. That’s why here at Kids Dental Center, our pediatric dentistry specialists, led by Dr. Bosede Adeniji, want to cover a few of the main things that you need to know about when it comes to your baby’s oral health.
Checkups should start early in life
The American Dental Association says that the ideal time to start oral health care checkups is when your baby’s first tooth breaks the gums, or when your baby turns 1 (whichever comes first).
At our office, the first checkup is a “getting-to-know-you” visit, with a basic exam of your baby’s mouth and a discussion about their oral health care.
Our goal during this visit is to evaluate your child’s jaw and teeth and make sure they’re healthy and primed for proper development. Dr. Adeniji and our specialists also take the time to discuss proper oral health care at home. Here’s where to start:
Clean your child’s gums, even before they have teeth
Your child’s gum health is equally important to their tooth health. Making sure your baby’s gums are healthy and free of harmful bacteria is the best way to prepare their mouth for tooth eruption.
Cleaning your baby’s gums is easy and painless: use a bit of soft gauze or other clean cloth. Dip it lightly in lukewarm water and gently wipe all gum surfaces.
When your baby’s first tooth erupts, they might understandably be a bit fussy. Using cool (not frozen solid) gauze to clean their gums during this time can provide some relief while also keeping their gums healthy.
Brushing starts when their first tooth appears
As soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts, it’s time to start brushing with an infant toothbrush that’s super soft and gentle on your baby’s teeth and gums.
The American Dental Association recommends using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste until age 3 and then using a pea-sized portion thereafter. Fluoride can be extremely protective, reducing your child’s risk of cavities dramatically. In fact, we talked about the importance of fluoride treatments in last month’s blog.
Some seemingly harmless habits can lead to oral health issues
Many infants develop habits like thumb-sucking and falling asleep with a bottle. Both may seem harmless on the surface, but when you look a little deeper, those things are actually dangerous to your child’s oral health.
Thumb-sucking and pacifiers aren’t generally considered harmful in the first couple of years of life. But, if your child continues to suck their thumb or rely on a pacifier after they start developing teeth, it can cause problems.
In the long term, these habits can alter tooth alignment, the roof of the mouth, or even jaw structure. Your child may develop problems like overbite, open bite, speech issues, and difficulty chewing as a result.
Falling asleep with a bottle can lead to a much higher risk of tooth decay. Formula, milk, and other drinks contain sugar, which can coat the teeth and remain there until you brush them the next day.
Along with tooth decay, falling asleep with a bottle may cause ear infections, breathing problems, and other issues. So, it’s a habit that you should avoid starting if possible.
Our Kids Dental Center specialists are here to help with all your baby’s oral health care, and we’re happy to answer questions and discuss concerns. Give us a call or contact us online now.