Baby Dental Care

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Baby Dental CareWhat could be better than a baby’s smile? Although baby teeth are tiny, they’re very important. Not only do they function as placeholders for adult teeth, but a young child can have difficulties with chewing and speaking well if he is lacking a healthy set of baby teeth.

How can we make sure baby’s teeth are getting the right care from the start?

Dental care is critical from very early on. Since babies don’t have teeth right away, parents should care for their gums first. A moistened clean, soft cloth will do the job. Gently wipe baby’s gums after each feeding and before sleeping time. This will help remove any bacteria from the gums and prevent decay. You can also apply a baby teething gel which usually contains extracts from herbs like chamomile and bee propolis to soothe aches and pains caused by first teeth cutting through the gum–massage baby’s gums with this gel a few times a day to keep that baby smile on!

The first baby tooth usually appears around the sixth month in the front bottom area; however this is not a rule–each baby is different and some can have another tooth pop up first.

baby dental care

Teether brush by Brush-Baby

What do I do once teeth arrive?

Even with few first teeth you can continue cleaning with a soft cloth; slowly introduce a children’s toothbrush. Clean your baby’s teeth after each meal or at least twice a day. Around 12 months of age you can start using children’s toothpaste without fluoride. Just add a tiny pea-sized amount and softly brush your baby’s teeth. Try to make it a game so your baby learns to enjoy the process from the start. And don’t forget that babies and young children learn from their parents. They copy everything they see, so if you show them examples of good dental hygiene, there’s a better chance they’ll adopt it naturally.

Which is the best baby toothbrush?

baby dental care

Silicone baby toothbrush by Green Sprouts

The ideal brush has a small head with soft bristles and a large comfortable handle that will be easy to hold in those tiny hands. When your child reaches 2 years, you can introduce fluoride toothpaste. If you prefer to avoid fluoride, there are also natural toothpastes that you can find in a health food or natural grocery store, or you can make your own (see recipe below). Make sure you brush around your toddler’s teeth gently–both front and back–and show him how to spit toothpaste out and rinse his mouth properly while you supervise so there is as little swallowing as possible. If he wants to brush his teeth on his own, encourage him to do so. Offer to help him by holding his hand so you can brush together. If he refuses, make it a game: Turn your toothbrushes into a puppet show, or bring his favorite toy and pretend you are brushing the toy’s teeth.

Parents should oversee this process until a child can brush and rinse without any assistance (usually by age 6).

baby dental care

Baby toothbrushes by Nuby

When should we first visit the dentist?

Some dentists recommend visiting a pediatric dentist after 6 months; you should definitely plan a visit by age 1. Unless your child experiences problems, you should plan for a preventive visit once a year. Home oral exams can be very useful. If you see any signs of baby tooth decay in form of brown or white spots or tiny pits on the teeth, consult your pediatric dentist.

Why is a good diet important for good teeth?

baby dental care

©Photo Lenka U

The food your child eats is not only essential for his proper development, but for his teeth as well. The best choice for healthy teeth are foods rich in calcium and phosphorus, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, meats, nuts and fish. These minerals help build and protect tooth enamel. Also vegetables and some fruits such as apples and pears are good for protection against tooth decay as they stimulate the flow of saliva to help wash away food particles and acids. However, acidic fruits such as oranges, lemons or tomatoes should be added as part of a larger meal to minimize their acid strength.

The worst foods for your child’s teeth are candy and sugary foods and drinks. Not only do they provide little or no nutritional value, but foods that contain large amounts of sugar can stick to teeth and provide a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Be aware that bananas and dried fruit have a high sugar content. Also, some cough drops and children’s liquid medicines contain high levels of sugar to make them more appealing. Brush teeth after consuming them or at least rinse your child’s mouth with clean water to dilute the sugar amount.

Resources and References: WebMD, NHS UK
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