Parent's Guide to Baby Teeth
There's so much on your mind after you have your first child, it can be overwhelming. You're probably thinking about all the basics, such as what you're going to feed them, how you'll dress them and where you'll send them to school. However, while all these things are obviously important, you also need to make sure to keep the dental health of your child in mind from the second he or she is born.
According to the American Dental Association, baby teeth are just as important as permanent ones. Primary teeth hold space in the jaw for permanent ones, and they help your child chew and speak - two things that you certainly want them to learn to do properly.
Let's review some of the dental care basics for babies:
- Before Teeth: BabyCenter.com states that bacteria can still grow in a baby's mouth before teeth appear. This is why, after feedings, you should gently wipe your baby's gums with a clean cloth soaked in water. There's no need to use any toothpaste yet; this is just to get rid of leftover food particles.
- First Tooth: Studies have shown that many parents do not take their children to the dentist until they are two or three years old. However, a baby's first visit to a dentist should take place when they turn one, or when their first tooth comes in, whichever is first. At this visit, the dentist will simply make sure that the baby's mouth and jaw are developing correctly, and give you advice for how to care for your child's developing baby teeth.
- Tooth Decay: The minute teeth pop up in your baby's mouth, they are vulnerable to bacteria that can cause tooth decay. When the first few teeth appear, you should gently brush your child's teeth with a toothbrush designed for babies and water. According to the ADA, children over two can use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- To Floss or Not to Floss: You may be wondering when the best time is to introduce flossing to your kids. According to BabyCenter, your young child's teeth are probably too far apart to worry about flossing. Most dentists recommend that you hold off on flossing until tooth surfaces begin to touch.
- Bedtime Snacks: The crib is no place for a snack! If you put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice or milk, you may be damaging their oral health. The sugars in these drinks are not healthy for a baby's teeth as they sleep, and can cause "baby bottle tooth decay."
Be sure to ask your dentist for more tips on taking care of your baby's teeth. What do you do to ensure your child’s teeth stay healthy? Share with us in the comments below!