Is your infant teething or getting ready to teethe? Want to make sure he or she has healthy teeth right from the start? Here at Redwood Dental, we encourage parents to start caring for teeth before their child’s first teeth come in. Infant dental care doesn’t take a ton of work. It just requires a little practice. Here are some tips to care for your child’s teeth as they come in.
Clean Your Child’s Gums Twice a Day
My child isn’t eating real food and doesn’t have teeth yet. Why should I be cleaning them? Because your child’s mouth can still harbor bacteria. Also, getting in the habit of cleaning your child’s gums now will make the transition to teeth cleaning that much easier. Use a rag or a finger brush to gently clean your child’s gums twice a day. You may use a tiny dab of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. Just make sure it is safe for babies. You may ask your pediatric dentist which toothpaste they recommend for infants.
Use Bottles for Breast Milk, Formula or Water Only
Your babies should not be drinking juice or other beverages until they reach the sippy-cup stage. Bottles should only contain breast milk, formula, or water. Minimize the exposure to sugary drinks until your child gets a little older. This will protect his or her developing smile.
Do Not Leave Bottles in the Crib
Never leave a bottle in your baby’s crib before bed. Some babies fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth, leaving their teeth exposed to a constant drip of milk. This can cause “baby bottle tooth decay,” which affects teeth at their earliest growth stages. If your child needs something to suck on for comfort, consider a pacifier instead.
Prevent Thumb Sucking When Possible
Thumb sucking can cause your child’s teeth to grow in incorrectly. The most common issue is an overbite, where the child’s upper teeth protrude further forward than they are supposed to. This is why we encourage parents to deter their children from thumb sucking. This can be a difficult habit to break, so it is best to avoid it altogether. You can get teething mitts that go over your child’s hands. If your child wishes to suck on something, there is a built-in teething ring right there. You may also use pacifiers or other comfort solutions to help your child get through this stage.
Schedule Your Child’s First Dentist Appointment
Your child’s first dentist appointment should be within six months of the first tooth eruption. However, you may set up an appointment before your child’s first tooth comes in. This will help your child get familiar with the dentist office and prevent dental anxiety. It will also give you a chance to build a relationship with your child’s dentist and ask any questions you may have about infant dental care.
Redwood Dental offers pediatric dentistry, family dentistry and emergency dentistry at several locations in Michigan. Give us a call at (800) 462-2222 to schedule an appointment with a child dentist near you.