Baby dental care is an important start to a lifetime of good oral health. Even before your baby sports their first tooth, get into the habit of wiping their gums with gauze or a soft wet washcloth during bath time.
Don’t worry about using any toothpaste just yet; a simple wipe down of the gums is sufficient enough as the bacteria in the mouth usually can’t harm the gums before the teeth emerge. Getting your baby used to having his mouth cleaned as part of their daily routine should make it easier to transition into tooth brushing later on!
Your child’s teeth start to appear around 6 months but sometimes it can be hard to tell when the teeth are starting to push through. If your child is healthy and still hasn’t sprouted his first tooth by the end of his first year, don’t worry – some children don’t start getting teeth until 15 to 18 months.
When your little tyke does get those teeth cutting through, you’ll want to look for a baby toothbrush with a small head and grip suitable for your hand.
Using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) gently brush on the inside and outside of each of your baby’s teeth, and if they’ll let you, try to brush the tongue as well. There is no need to rinse because you’re using such a small amount of toothpaste. Try to do this twice a day if possible.
When it comes to flossing, your baby’s teeth are probably far enough apart that you don’t have to worry about flossing. There’s no evidence that flossing baby teeth makes a difference. Flossing should begin when tooth surfaces touch and at the point that you can’t clean them with a toothbrush.
In concerns of fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to acids and harmful bacteria, your baby’s developing teeth can benefit from a little fluoride. However, while a little fluoride is a good thing for your baby’s teeth, too much of it can lead to a condition called fluorosis, which causes white spots to show up on your child’s adult teeth. This is why it’s important to use only the tiniest amount of toothpaste until your child is old enough to learn to rinse and spit it out.
For the most part, the amount of fluoride your baby gets from toothpaste and water should be sufficient enough. Most municipal water supplies are fortified with adequate fluoride. (Call your local water authority to find out about yours). If yours isn’t, or if you get your water from a well, you might consider buying a test kit from your local health department, a hardware store, or a pharmacy.
It’s a general rule of thumb that it’s not a good idea to give your baby water until they’re about 6 months old. Until then, he’ll get all the hydration he needs from breast milk or formula. If the water that you use to make your baby’s formula contains fluoride, they’ll get fluoride from bottle feedings.
If the results show a fluoride content of less than .3 parts per million, ask your child’s doctor or dentist whether you should give your child a fluoride supplement. (The amount recommended for children under 3 is .25 milligrams per day). The doctor can prescribe fluoride in the form of drops that you can add to your baby’s bottle or cereal once a day.
Starting your child on a healthy dental routine from the get-go of teeth cutting will enforce the importance of good oral health and will help your child avoid dental problems through adolescence into adulthood. Read more about making tooth brushing a fun experience for the whole family!
– Toothy 😀