Parents often have a lot of questions about their newborn babies. Where do I find a good pediatrician? How often should I feed my baby? Should I give my baby a bath every day? How do I clean my baby’s teeth?
Fortunately, we have an answer to the last one and the other common questions parents have regarding their baby’s oral care.
1. How do I clean my baby’s teeth?
Starting at birth, clean your baby’s gums using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head after meals and at bedtime. You can also use a damp cloth or gauze and water to gently wipe clean your baby’s gums and tongue.
2. When should I use a toothpaste and how much should I use?
As soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts, use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste and brush twice daily. For children between 3 to 6 years old, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Teach your child to spit out toothpaste after brushing.
A smear amount of toothpaste (left) versus a pea-sized amount (right)
Photo: Journal of the American Dental Association
3. When should I bring my child to the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that parents take their child for the first dental checkup as soon as the first tooth erupts and no later than his or her first birthday.
It’s not easy to spot tooth decay in infants and toddlers since it often starts with a dull pain that may be mistaken for teething. Most of the time, parents realize that their babies have tooth decay when the pain becomes intensified or when the tooth chips or breaks. This could be avoided with regular dental visits.
Taking your baby to a pediatric dentist early on allows your child to begin lifelong preventative care that minimizes tooth decay. Regular checkups with a pediatric dentist allow you to talk about your child’s oral hygiene, fluoride needs and oral habits (thumb sucking, use of pacifiers or mouth breathing).
4. Baby teeth are temporary, why should we worry about decay?
Baby teeth are susceptible to decay (or cavities) as soon as they appear. Parents often think that baby teeth aren’t important because they are eventually replaced by permanent teeth. Left untreated, a cavity can grow and spread and lead to infection of the nerves and may even cause damage to the permanent tooth underneath it.
Remember, healthy teeth will allow your child to eat and speak properly. Your baby’s milk teeth are also very important in saving the space for the permanent teeth.
5. What can I do to protect my baby’s teeth from decay?
Good oral hygiene will help keep your baby’s teeth healthy and strong. But it doesn’t end there.
Did you know that one of most significant cause of aggressive tooth decay in babies and young children is putting them to bed with a bottle of juice or milk (breast milk or formula)?If you must give your baby a bottle at bedtime, make sure it only contains water.
The AAPD also recommends weaning infants from the bottle by the age of one. Do not let your child drink juice or any other sugary drinks from a bottle or sippy cup for extended periods of time. Prolonged and frequent bottle use can lead to cavities and may encourage your child to drink more than he or she needs.
The road to good oral health for life starts early at home. Good oral hygiene, a healthy diet and regular visits to the dentist are very important in maintaining your baby’s beautiful smile.
If you are looking for a dental home for your child, come visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Enas Alkhadra at the Dental Studio – Umm Al Sheif branch.
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