Oral Health for Babies—3 Things You Should Know
Did you know that your baby’s first set of teeth is already present at birth? Though they’re safely tucked away within your baby’s gums, it’s important to start proper oral care as early as possible. Not only do your baby’s gums require regular cleaning, but once teeth begin to erupt, they need proper care, too. Not sure how to go about maintaining healthy oral practices for your baby? Keep reading for a few tips on how to care for your little one’s fledgling teeth.
It Starts Early
As early as the first few days after your baby’s entrance into the world, it’s important to begin cleaning his or her gums. Using a soft, clean cloth or a piece of gauze, gently wipe down your baby’s gums after each feeding. Bacteria can thrive in the warm, moist environment of your baby’s mouth, and without proper gum cleaning, these bacteria can form a film on your baby’s gums. When his or her teeth finally erupt, this bacterial film can initiate early tooth decay. As well, when you introduce gum cleaning early on, your baby will become accustomed to having his or her mouth cleaned, making the tooth brushing process much easier when the time comes. When your baby’s first teeth finally make their appearance, it’s important to stay on top of regular teeth cleaning to prevent early tooth decay, according to Mouth Healthy. Choose a very gentle toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head to brush your baby’s teeth. You can begin brushing with water alone, and after your baby is accustomed to the new sensation, you may graduate to infant toothpaste. Use only a minuscule amount of toothpaste – about the size of a grain of rice – and use a gentle, moist cloth to wipe down his or her gums.
Don’t Put Your Mouth on Baby’s Things
Your adult mouth is far dirtier than your baby’s mouth will ever be. Filled with millions of tiny microbes, your oral cavity is a breeding ground for harmful germs and other bacteria. According to Murfreesboro Family Dentistry, parents can expose their infants to infections by putting their mouths on a baby’s bottle, sharing utensils, or other items that the baby will put in their mouth. To protect your baby’s oral health—and overall well-being—it’s best to either boil or thoroughly wash any items that regularly end up in your baby’s mouth. Most harmful germs cannot survive temperatures over 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Say No to Sugar
As your baby grows, you’ll begin introducing new beverages into his or her diet. But beware: Many beverages contain excessive sugar that accumulates on teeth and gums, contributing to tooth decay. According to the Wisconsin Dental Association, to prevent early cavities, you should avoid giving your baby sugar-laden drinks like fruit juice and soda. Even cow’s milk contains a substantial amount of sugar which can settle in your baby’s mouth, providing ample sustenance for damaging bacteria. Fill your baby’s bottle or sippy cup with water, formula or breast milk to avoid introducing too much sugar into your little one’s mouth. If you are in the habit of giving your baby a bottle at naptime, make sure to fill it with water alone.
Taking care of your baby’s oral health from the start will help set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. During your child’s first few years, you are the primary teacher in his or her life, so make sure you start teaching healthy habits as early as possible!
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