How To Care For Your Baby’s Mouth
New parents everywhere have one thing on their minds: keeping their little one healthy, happy, and comfortable. Unfortunately, caring for a baby is one of the biggest challenges of parenthood, involving constant care and extreme attention to detail. Although some aspects of early parenthood are relatively straightforward, others are not—including early dental care. Here are five tips for taking care of your baby’s mouth until they are old enough to do it themselves.
1. Wipe Down Their Gums
Although some people mistakenly assume that your child doesn’t need any type of oral care before they develop teeth, parents should wipe down their baby’s gums with a moist cloth twice a day.
This action serves multiple purposes. For starters, it helps to clean sugar residues from milk and formula off of your child’s gums. Second, it helps your baby to get used to you touching their mouth, which will come in handy when you start brushing their teeth a little later.
When you wipe down your baby’s gums, focus on being exceptionally gentle and using a very clean cloth. You might be surprised—some babies even like the sensation of having their gums gently massaged, especially when they start to teethe.
2. Don’t Offer A Bottle At Bedtime
Your child is too small for dental implants in Boston, so they can’t afford to lose teeth–which is why you should take that bottle away from your kiddo before they go to sleep. Although letting a child drift off to sleep while sucking on a bottle of milk or juice used to be commonplace, it bathes the teeth in sugar all throughout the night, causing a condition called baby bottle tooth decay.
Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when multiple teeth rot simultaneously, leaving the child with inflamed gums, extreme dental sensitivity, pulpitis, and sometimes even dangerous infections called abscesses. Baby bottle decay is exacerbated by the fact that saliva production slows down when you fall asleep. Since saliva is responsible for neutralizing bacterial acids and rinsing away food residues, nighttime bacterial attacks are especially damaging.
To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, don’t give your child a bottle when you put them down to bed, or only fill the bottle with clean, unflavored water. Although it may take a few nights to get your child used to no bottle or a simple sippy cup filled with water, making this crucial change will help your child to avoid this painful condition.
3. Focus On Early Dental Hygiene Habits
As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in, you need to start teaching them good dental hygiene habits. Children should also visit the dentist by the time they are a year old or when their first tooth comes in, whichever occurs first.
Parents should help their toddlers and children to brush their teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch each other, you should begin showing them how to floss properly. Tools like colored floss or character-themed flossing picks can come in handy to keep kids happy with the process. Show your child how to swish water in their mouths and spit it out properly.
To get your child excited about dental hygiene, consider letting them choose their own toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss. Make trips to the dentist fun by offering activities before or after the dental office, or by giving your child non-food rewards like stickers or small toys for having a great checkup.
4. Watch Out For Utensils and Kisses
Parents everywhere get creative at mealtime. Some parents make the mistake of sharing spoons or forks with their kids—which means they’re also sharing oral bacteria.
Babies aren’t born with the type of oral bacteria that causes dental cavities, but research has shown that parents typically colonize their children’s mouths with these bacteria by the time kids are 2 ½.
To keep your child’s mouth free of enamel-destroying oral bacteria, avoid the temptation to share spoons, blow on your child’s food, or kiss your kids on the lips. Avoiding these kinds of actions could help you to keep your child’s teeth in perfect condition.
5. Schedule Preventive Care
One of the most powerful ways to care for your children’s teeth is by scheduling preventive care, such as well checks. During these semi-annual exams, your dentist in Boston will look for issues with your child’s smile, including evidence of oral decay, problems with their bite, or issues with diseased gum tissue.
Preventive care can do more than help you to have your kid’s cavities filled early. Since over 120 serious illnesses show symptoms in the mouth, having your child seen regularly by a dentist can help you to spot general health problems that could end up being serious.
Preventive care can also help you to save money, since early dental care is typically a lot less expensive than more involved treatments. For example, while a filling typically costs under $50, dental crowns can cost $300 and up for a single tooth. Preventive treatments like sealants can help your child to avoid dental decay altogether, so that they can keep their teeth strong and healthy.
For more information on caring for your little one’s smile, talk with your Boston dentist today.