You should start to clean your baby’s mouth before his teeth come in. Be sure to wipe her gums off after every feeding with a wet, warm washcloth or a piece of gauze that have wrapped around your finger and dampened. You can also find soft rubbery, thimble-like devices that go on your index finger to rub off any excess food particles.
Once Your Baby’s Teeth Have Come In
When your baby’s teeth have come in, you will need to take care of them right away. While the first set of teeth will only be in for a little while, it is important to keep them healthy. When you take care of them right away, you ensure the health of your baby’s future permanent teeth and gums. Additionally, if they are not taken care of properly it can lead to to gingivitis, a gum infection, or tooth decay. Gum problems can cause changes in the spacing of your baby’s permanent teeth.
Give Your Baby Water After Meals
Baby foods are typically designed to clean your baby’s teeth with some water after a feeding. However, it is still a good idea to use a toothbrush on your baby so that he or she gets used to having one in their mouth as soon as possible. You will not need to actually brush your baby’s teeth until about he or she is about 18 months and eating table food and has a mouth full of permanent teeth. If your baby has eaten any sugary, sticky foods, you will want to make sure you gently clean their teeth with a thimble-like cleaner or a toothbrush.
Minor pitting and discoloration are the first signs of cavities. It is not a good idea to put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with milk or juice. It can cause cavities. Also, you should not leave a bottle with your baby for extended lengths of time, especially if he or she is using it for comfort and not actually feeding.
Begin Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth With Toothpaste at 2 Years
Use about a pea-size amount of toothpaste that is non-fluoride when your baby is 2 years. Do not use any type of fluoride with your baby until he or she turns 3.
Monitor the Amount of Fluoride Your Baby is Ingesting
Because your baby is not using toothpaste with fluoride, you still need to make sure he or she is getting enough fluoride to avoid any potential tooth decay. When your baby is 6 months, if your home tap water does not have fluoride in it, you can ask your doctor for fluoride supplements.
You Should Schedule Your Baby’s First Dental Exam
Your baby should have his or her first dental examination at the age of 1. That is the recommendation from the American Dental Association. Many pediatricians believe that the first exam can start at age 3 if you are taking care of your baby’s teeth regularly and properly.
Nadia Kiderman is a dentist from NYC.