An infant’s toothless grin will bring most grown men to their knees. Within the first six months, that precious smile will transform into a toothy grin. Most toddlers have about 20 teeth by the time they’re three. With the proper care and attention, a baby’s pearly whites will stay healthy. Early intervention also helps develop good dental habits early in life. Here are smart practices for your baby’s teeth to encourage healthy dental habits.
Begin Cleaning Baby’s Mouth Immediately
Some babies begin to teethe very early in life and others will start to sprout teeth as late as 12 to 14 months. Babies will need help brushing their teeth until they’re almost ready for kindergarten. The best way to get you both comfortable with this is to start cleaning their mouth before their teeth begin to erupt. Wiping a baby’s mouth can be done as soon as immediately after birth and is best done with a wet washcloth or gauze. It’s important to repeat this process after each feeding.
Don’t Neglect Baby Teeth
Baby teeth will eventually fall out, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about them. Preserving each baby tooth is necessary to maintain space for permanent teeth. If cavities are left untreated, children can develop gingivitis or lose baby teeth, which could compromise the placement of their adult teeth.
Avoid Letting Baby Sleep with a Bottle or Pacifier
You may be tempted to let a baby fall asleep with a bottle, or be afraid to take a bottle of juice out of the mouth of a sleeping baby to avoid waking them up. But, there are so many reasons you shouldn’t do this. Milk and juice can both contribute to plaque and cavities. If a baby falls asleep with a bottle or pacifier on a regular basis, their teeth could begin to decay, and the nipples itself could push the front teeth forward.
Start Using Fluoride Toothpaste at 2 Years Old
When your toddler celebrates their second birthday, it’s time to start using fluoride toothpaste. Use an age-appropriate toothbrush and prepare yourself and your child to let you brush their teeth. Make sure you only use a bit of baby toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) and have them spit it out and rinse properly.
See the Dentist Regularly
You’ll probably be jumping up and down when you see or feel baby’s first tooth. You’ll likely show all your friends and try to catch a glimpse of the inaugural pearly white whenever you can. What this milestone also means is that it’s time to see the dentist. Babies should have their first dental check as soon as their first tooth erupts or baby’s first birthday – whatever happens first.
The first few dental exams won’t require a great deal of interaction, but it does establish a relationship between your child and the staff and helps alleviate fears as the child grows. As a bonus, it lets the dentist and staff watch your child’s early tooth development, which could help prevent problems before they become significant problems. By following the smart practices for baby teeth mentioned above, you are paving the way for your child or children to have a healthier smile.
Is your child ready for their first dental exam? Are you located in the Cool Springs or Hermitage areas of Tennessee? If so, call Snodgrass-King pediatric dentistry. Our professional staff will help you schedule the appointments you need to establish a lifetime of healthy dental habits.