Baby Oral Care – Now Is The Time To Start Healthy Oral Habits
|February 26, 2010||Posted by healthsmartmom under Healthy Kids|
Well, all those things I thought I was done with are starting to come back to me now. There is so much involved with taking care of a baby, that sometimes I don’t remember how I managed it all. And although genetics does have a role in the health of your child’s teeth, the main ingredient is proper oral care.
You can help take some of the strain of oral care off of you by teaching your children the importance of good oral care. And a lifetime of good dental care begins when your children are small. Actually, when they are too small to do it themselves, and even before they have teeth!
Newborn to 6 months
You can start your baby on the road to proper oral care by gently massaging their gums before they even have teeth (or after if they happen to be born with them!) You can purchase a special tooth brush or finger cover to do this with. Don’t use anything other than a clean brush at this stage. Make sure you clean the brush off after each use. This will not only help to get your baby used to having something strange in his mouth, but it will feel good on those developing gums.
6 months to 1 year
When your child is around about six months of age, they will usually start to show signs of impending tooth eruption. Of course, this is just an average, some will already have teeth, some won’t make their appearance until later. Some children may sprout teeth seemingly overnight and without any pain or discomfort (lucky parents!) Others will have a more difficult time with the process, and as a result, it can be a trying time for the parents as well. Once well-established routines are now all out of whack, and will continue to be interrupted as new teeth come in.
For those babies that do exhibit signs of teething, common signs include drooling, coughing, chin rash (likely as a result of drooling), biting and gnawing, cheek rubbing, ear pulling, diarrhea, low-grade fever, not sleeping well, and cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, etc. Some doctors disagree that diarrhea and low-grade fever are associated with teething, but I’ve certainly seen it in mine. The important thing to remember is that diarrhea and fever can also be symptoms of other illnesses, and should not be dismissed as a part of teething unless you and your doctor have ruled out other causes. In addition, diarrhea can cause an infant to become dehydrated, so if your infant exhibits this symptom with teething, remember to increase the babies fluids accordingly to help prevent things from becoming worse.
Once the tooth is fully showing, it is time to take care of it. For an infant, using a wet washcloth or specially designed brush or finger cover to clean the tooth is all you need. Do not use any tooth paste or gel in your baby’s mouth, unless it is specially marketed for infants (child tooth paste does not qualify – it is not made for infants – so don’t use it.) As with older kids, you will need to clean any food or debris from their tooth and mouth each morning and before they go to bed at night. You will continue to do this with all your babies teeth until they are ready for standard brushing.
If you don’t already have a dentist, you will want to find one and see what their recommendations are for your baby’s first visit. My children see a pediatric dentist now, although when the older two were infants we all saw the same general practice dentist. You will have to see what you are most comfortable with. Some prefer to wait until the child is two years old before the first visit, others will want to check on your baby’s teeth around one year to make sure there aren’t any developing gum issues or problems with their new teeth.
This may seem like a lot of work, especially for such small teeth and a sleep-deprived mom. But believe me, proper oral care at this stage will help to prevent dental problems in the future and you’ll be glad you took the time to help your child develop good oral habits.