As parents, we are often confused about taking care of our baby’s teeth. We know taking care of our little one’s teeth is crucial during the early days to protect them from decay. But how exactly do we do that? Though we know we want the best for our babies, there are times when we don’t know how to do so. You might have several questions looming in your mind: ‘When should I start brushing my kid’s teeth?’, ‘Which toothpaste should use?’, and ‘Should I visit a dentist for my baby?’ Here we answer all your worries and doubts so that you can give your child the best dental care possible.
When Should You Start Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth?
You should start practicing dental care before your baby’s first teeth appears. Though you may not be able to see them, baby’s teeth start developing way early, in your second trimester of pregnancy. When a baby is born, they will be having 20 primary teeth in their jaw which may not be visible. Here are a few tips that you can follow to ensure your baby’s teeth remain healthy (1).
- Damp a clean washcloth and run it over your baby’s gums every day to steer away from harmful bacteria.
- Once your baby’s teeth begin to appear, brush with an infant toothbrush. Use a grain size amount of toothpaste and a little water to brush.
- While selecting the toothpaste, make sure it is a fluoride one that has the approval of the national dental association.
- Once your baby is 1-year-old, brush your baby’s teeth twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste.
- Babies should start learning to spit while brushing their teeth around 2 years old. It’s best to teach them this without giving water to swish and spit as they are more likely to swallow toothpaste this way.
- Your kid can start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to brush once they are 3 years old.
- Kids below the age of 8 are likely to swallow toothpaste while brushing. So make sure there is someone to supervise them while brushing.
Preventing Tooth Decay In Babies
Tooth decay is one of the most common infectious diseases of childhood that can appear even in babies. Hence it is important to be aware of the causes and signs of tooth decay and learn about its prevention (2).
Tooth Decay: Causes
Tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria which infects the mouth. These bacteria can be passed on by parents or caregivers to babies through saliva. Sharing spoons, cups, or testing food before feeding them are some of the reasons that bacteria can spread to babies. It also occurs when babies’ gums and teeth are exposed to sugary foods throughout the day. Letting your baby go to sleep with a bottle of juice, milk, or formula is another main reason for tooth decay.
Tooth Decay: Signs
If you find white spots on your baby’s upper front teeth’s gum line, it could be tooth decay. Consult a dentist immediately if you notice these spots to prevent it from spreading further (3).
Tooth Decay: Prevention
Taking good care of your baby’s teeth by practicing good oral habits early on is crucial to prevent tooth decay. Here are a few other steps that you can follow to ensure the same (4).
- Never let your baby go to bed with a bottle of juice, milk or formula.
- Don’t give your child a sippy cup as a pacifier.
- Don’t let your child carry a sippy cup or bottle with juice for long periods. You can fill it with water instead.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup once they celebrate their first birthday.
- Avoid giving too many sweet snacks or candies in between meals.
- Avoid giving juice to babies below 6 months of age. For babies past 6 months, dilute it with water and limit their intake to 4 ounces per day.
Your baby can have healthy and strong teeth if you start taking care of them right from the beginning. Once they are big enough to brush on their own, make sure they practice good oral hygiene. Also, consult a dentist once your baby is 6 months old and make sure they have routine dental checkups to maintain good oral hygiene.