So your baby begins acting cranky, and one morning you notice a tooth poking out of their little gums. Finally! This explains why they were acting this way. Now comes the challenge – how do you take care of these new infant teeth? How do you prevent tooth decay? Here are 6 tips on how to take care of your baby’s teeth.
1. Start Early
You don’t have to wait until the first tooth pops out. You should start getting your baby used to having their mouths cleaned on a regular basis. You can do this by using a damp cloth and wiping your baby’s gums and gently massaging them. There are also contraptions you can buy that look like thimbles you put over your finger. Both ways are just as effective.
2. Take Care of Infant Teeth Right Away
Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. They are place holders until the permanent teeth come in and if these place holders are taken out, it can negatively affect the permanent dentition. Once you notice that your baby has sprouted some pearly whites, please take care of them right away. This means brushing them on a regular basis, twice per day. You don’t need toothpaste, however if you want it, make sure it’s not fluoridated.
3. Avoid Cavities
Doing dental work on small children is no easy task. Along with brushing your child’s teeth regularly, it is important that you do not put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk. Milk has sugar, and when the milk pools in your child’s mouth, it will start the decay the teeth. It will begin as discolouration, followed by pitting and possible discomfort for the child. Also, limiting sweet juices helps.
4. Give Water After Meals
Just like adults, when we have something sugary or acidic – it’s a very good idea to have some water to wash away and food debris and neutralize the mouth. When a child is little, it is easy to help them clean their mouth after every meal. Simply offer water, and that will take away most food particles that can cause tooth decay
5. Start with Toothpaste at Age 2
Around age 2 is when you may need to make brushing more fun. This is when the child can get picky around brushing their teeth. However, flavoured non-fluoridated toothpaste can help them make the process a little bit more fun. Do not use fluoridated toothpaste until at least age 3 – this is when the child can spit out the toothpaste. However, sometimes that can be later on, around age 4 or 5.
6. Schedule a Check-Up
You can have your child become more comfortable in a dental chair by taking them to your appointments and letting them “ride in the chair”. They can see that the dentist isn’t a scary place. Of course try not to use phrases like “don’t be afraid” as that may give them a reason to be afraid. Most dentists like to see children around their 3rd birthday provided there is good home care.
If you have any questions about how to care for your child’s teeth, please call our office or ask your Dental Hygienist at the next visit!