For parents with a new baby at home, it is important to remember that infant oral care starts early. While newborns don’t yet have teeth, there are still some steps you can take to monitor your baby’s oral development, create good habits and to help care for their first teeth when they do arrive.
Before your child receives their first tooth around 4 to 6 months of age, they will start teething. This process is how teeth first arrive and it may be painless for some babies. For others, you may notice your infant is fussier than usual, restless or in pain. To alleviate or soothe the pain from teething, give your baby frozen strawberries cut in half to suck on, or even a cold cloth to suck on. These can help sooth pain from teething and also distract your child from the discomfort in their mouth.
Mothers do not have to stop breastfeeding if their child is teething. The last thing you want is a baby that is teething and also hungry!
After feeding, you can always wash your baby’s gums with a wet cloth or finger sponge to keep the gums clean. These simple techniques also prepare you and your child for oral care practices once their teeth arrive. This is because your child will rely on you to help them brush and care for their teeth until they are old enough to do it on their own. Oral care for infants really relies on the efforts of mom or dad!
Your child’s first tooth
Once the first tooth arrives, parents need to start brushing the tooth at least twice a day. Be sure to book an appointment with a pediatric dentist by your child’s first birthday. This will allow a proper checkup for any oral health issues and also will help to familiarize your child with the dentist.
Limit night time milk and juice
Try to avoid giving your child milk or juice before bedtime. This is because these liquids contain a lot of sugar and can cause tooth decay if they are left on the teeth overnight. If your child is thirsty before bedtime, give them water if you can. This will also help to habituate them to quenching their thirst with water and not juice or other sugary liquids that can be bad for their teeth and diet in the long run.
Pacifiers and infant oral care
While pacifiers are useful for calming infants, they can pose some issues for oral development. Overuse of a pacifier can cause issues with tooth alignment in some cases, and even changes in the overall shape of the roof of the mouth. In order to reduce the risks, ensure that children stop using pacifiers once they reach the age of 2. Additionally, ensure the pacifier is always clean prior to use and that it is not being shared with other children in the house. Finally, ensure that it is mostly used for when baby is going to sleep. Constant use throughout the day can increase the risk of the above issues developing.