By Dr. Craig Young
I receive lots of questions from new parents about their infants and their teeth. As soon as teething begins, parents start calling our practice asking about proper brushing techniques, and whether they can use toothpaste on their child’s sensitive gums. These are all great questions, but the path to good oral care starts well before your baby even develops their first tooth. Since the mouth is the gateway to overall body wellness, we recommend that oral care begins right after your child has their first feeding.
Caring for Baby's Mouth
A good habit to begin with your baby is daily oral cleanings. After feedings, use a clean moisten cloth to gently wipe baby’s gums. Many parents wait to clean a babies gums once the first tooth erupts. If you start cleaning a baby’s mouth from a very early age, the transition to a toothbrush will be much easier when the time comes. By cleansing the gums, you will remove any lingering milk or formula and avoid the buildup of bacteria in your baby’s mouth. Avoid putting baby to sleep with a bottle and encourage baby to drink water after their feedings.
What is Baby Bottle Decay and How Can I Prevent It?
Decay or carries as it is known in dentistry, can be caused by frequent exposure to liquids containing sugar. Milk and formula sitting on baby’s teeth and gums are the cause of baby bottle decay. It takes as little as 24 hours for bacterial plaque to grow on a clean tooth surface. Follow meals with water and avoid putting baby to sleep with a bottle in their mouth to keep the plaque levels down.
When Should I Start Brushing My Baby’s Teeth?
When your child’s first tooth erupts, you can use a soft baby toothbrush to gently cleanse their gums. Brushing with water alone is sufficient as you introduce your child to their oral care routine. You can begin using a pea-size amount of non-fluoride toothpaste once baby is about 2.