Months before, your baby was on its way. Today, the little joy is in your arms, smiling gleefully at you. While preparations for the oncoming joy was what took most of your day then, today its care is what keeps you busy for most part of the day and night. For, your little one is but just a baby and not an adult to take of its need itself. Thus, right from putting the baby to sleep to waking it up, feeding, cleaning, grooming, playing and caring, a baby comes with a plethora of activities that keeps parents, especially mothers, occupied and busy throughout the day. One aspect which though might seem very nominal but requires intensive care and concern is a baby's dental health, for if not well taken care of, a baby may suffer from bad dental hygiene all through its life. The appearance of its first tooth is the most painful and exhausting job for a mother. Your baby will need you by its side all the while until it starts breaking its first set of teeth through munching on the teething toys. That’s not all. The emergence of the first tooth is quite painful. The teeth tear part the gums and appear little-by-little through those soft and red gums, leaving the baby extremely restless and impatient. While the first appearance of teeth varies from baby to baby, it generally begins between 4 and 7 months of age. When a baby turns about 4 months old, excessive drooling starts. This is indicative of the first sign of teething, with the first ones being the two front teeth on the lower jaw. Though they are baby teeth, or milk teeth, and will break soon allowing the permanent teeth to fix in, but pediatric dentistry is significant for your baby’s shiny teeth and health gums. After all, you want the best for your little one. To ensure that your baby gets the best possible dental care, go through the following guidelines.
Baby Dental Care
Though a baby’s first teeth appears around 4-6 months of age, but that doesn’t relieve you from not taking care of your baby’s gums. When the foundation is strong, the building is bound to be sturdy and tough. The same rule applies to the gums of your little one. With your careful attention, the gums of your baby can highly benefit, allowing the first tooth to appear easily. After breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or a piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby’s gums. Doing so will remove any fragments of food from your baby’s mouth and start building a good habit of daily oral care.
First Tooth Care
Using a clean washcloth or piece of gauze works well until your baby breaks out its first tooth. Thereafter, you need to upgrade these techniques with a baby toothbrush with few and soft bristles. You can choose from any of the two alternatives - a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time or a finger-puppet-like brush that fits on the tip of your pointer finger. However, you do not have to start using toothpaste at this stage; a simple toothbrush dipped in water would do the job. You may find difficulties in getting your baby accustomed to this habit, but do not give up, even if it isn’t accepting it. Leave the toothbrush aside and switch back to a damp washcloth. Try the toothbrush after a few weeks again. During the teething process, babies become restless and may chew on anything that comes across their way. As such, a toothbrush with a teether can help your baby get adjusted to the brush.
After you notice some more teeth appearing in your baby’s mouth, you can introduce toothpaste on the brush. Squeeze out just a tiny amount of toothpaste or smear it on the brush and let your infant practice the habit of spitting out the toothpaste after brushing and not swallowing it. This will prepare your infant for using fluoride toothpaste, to be used at a later stage, which should not be swallowed at any age. Nevertheless, never use a toothpaste containing fluoride for the first two years, unless advised by your dentist, as fluoride can be harmful and dangerous for young children.
Avoid serving your baby with any kind of sweetened liquids, such as flavored drinks or soda. Sugars present in fruit juice, formula milk, and even in breast milk can cause tooth decay; thus, cleaning of teeth and gums on a regular basis is essential. You should also avoid allowing your baby to go to bed with a bottle in its mouth, as sugary liquids, when in contact with the teeth for prolonged periods, can contribute to early-childhood decay, also known as baby-bottle caries.
First Dentist Visit
Your baby’s first visit to the dentist should be around its first birthday, that is, within six months of its first tooth’s eruption. Tooth decay is likely to occur even in the smallest of the teeth; thus, it is essential for you to take your baby to the dentist at an early age to avoid any kind of teeth problems. The doctor will examine the baby’s oral health and advise you with the best care for its teeth. Every visit to the dentist will make your child comfortable with brushing and attending regular checkups.
Be a Good Example
Young ones are mimicry experts and follow their elders instantly. Take advantage of this fact and set a good example for your child to follow. Brush and floss daily, ensuring that your child is watching you. Doing so will induce him to inculcate the same habit from an early age. Buy him a separate toothbrush as he starts showing interest in brushing and let him follow you while you are cleaning your teeth. Most children do not get habitual of brushing their teeth until they turn 6 or 7 years of age. You can apply different tactics to make brushing fun, such as offering flavored toothpaste, presenting a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, or singing songs about brushing. Your main objective should be to encourage good oral habits from an early age, so that your child grows up into an adult with healthy, cavity-free teeth.
Let your baby develop a lifetime of healthy smiles with the above dos and don’ts of dental care. Practice good oral habits at an early age and increase the chances of a healthy mouth of your baby through adulthood.