How to care for your baby’s teeth

Post by: / November 7, 2016

How to care for your baby’s teeth

There is so much to worry about as a new parent that dental health can fall by the wayside. Besides- baby teeth don’t come in until around 6 months of age, so at least you get a break from dealing with your child’s oral health from the start, right? Not really. It is important to care for child’s mouth from the time they are born. Developing healthy habits from the start, with oral health as with anything else, is important. Here’s a breakdown of how to care for your child’s teeth from the time they start to erupt to the time they have all 20 of their baby teeth.

Birth- first tooth

While it may seem funny to care for a mouth that has no teeth, it is still important to care for your baby’s pre-dental gums. Wipe their gums with a wet washcloth in the morning and before bed. Not only will you wipe away extra milk that may be hanging around, but you will get your child used to having someone cleaning their mouths. This way, when it comes time for you to brush their teeth, it will not seem so foreign to them.

First teeth- with spaces between them

Yay- your child has their first teeth! Usually the lower 2 front teeth are the first to cut through. Once you have gotten over the pain of teething (it probably hurt you more than it hurt them!) it is time to start brushing. Use a soft toothbrush made for children twice a day, in the morning and before bed. At this point, brush with water. No toothpaste, fluoridated or not, is necessary. It is easiest if you lay your child down in your lap, pull their lip back, and brush from this angle. You do not have to brush for long, just long enough to wipe all of the teeth with the brush to get the food and milk debris off. It helps to sing a song to distract your child as you are doing this, or give them their own toothbrush to “help” (i.e. hold) so their hands stay out of the way.

Back teeth coming in- teeth are touching

By this point you and your child will have a great routine down for caring for their teeth- great job! Now that the back teeth are touching it is time to add flossing to your dental routine. It is the only effective way to remove the plaque between the teeth, therefore preventing cavities from developing where the teeth touch. Although it may seem difficult, it will get much easier with time and practice. Once again, it is easier to floss with your child laying down in your lap, and you can do this before or after brushing. If your child is at high risk of cavities, it may be appropriate to introduce a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste for brushing (the size of a grain of rice). Your dental professional can determine if fluoride is needed at this point or if you should still be brushing with water.

Once a child can reliably spit- usually around age 3

Once a child can reliably spit it is time to introduce fluoridated toothpaste to your routine. The amount of toothpaste does not have to be big, though! Toothpaste the size of a green pea will do the trick. The reason you want your child to be able to reliably spit is because if they swallow their toothpaste, they will be ingesting fluoride in greater amounts than is recommended. This can cause white spots to develop on their teeth, called dental fluorosis. It is important to supervise your child’s brushing: not only will you make sure that they are spitting out the excess toothpaste, but also making sure that their teeth get properly cleaned!

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