Early Infant Oral Care
At Where Smiles Grow, we believe that prioritizing your child’s dental health right from the beginning will set them up for a lifetime of proper dental hygiene! We recommend that you bring your child to a pediatric dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. While teething can begin as early as 3-4 months of age, it can vary for every baby. The early stages of your child’s dental development are essential for establishing good oral hygiene habits and preventing dental problems. Even though baby teeth are temporary, they play a vital role in your child’s overall oral health and development.
The Why’s and How’s of Early Infant Oral Care
Why Start So Soon?
You might be thinking that dental care doesn’t start until your baby actually has teeth to care for, but that is incorrect! Even without teeth, your baby’s mouth can still accumulate bacteria and plaque. Cleaning their gums with a soft, damp washcloth or a silicone finger brush helps remove these harmful substances, reducing the risk of oral infections and decay. By clearing away bacteria, you’re promoting a healthy oral environment for when their teeth begin to emerge. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends starting early infant oral care even before your baby’s first tooth erupts. Simply wipe their gums with a soft, damp cloth or gauze twice a day to ensure that their mouth is clean and bacteria isn’t left to build up.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Caring for Your Child’s Teeth
Introducing the Toothbrush
As soon as your baby’s first tooth makes its grand entrance, it’s time to acquaint them with the toothbrush. Choose a soft-bristled, age-appropriate toothbrush and wet it with water—no toothpaste is needed just yet.
The Right Amount of Toothpaste
When your little one turns two or begins spitting (whichever comes first), introduce fluoride toothpaste into their oral care routine. Use a rice grain-sized dollop for kiddos under three and a pea-sized amount for those aged three to six.
The Art of Brushing
Brush your baby’s teeth in gentle, circular motions, making sure to reach every nook and cranny. Don’t forget the gum line and tongue! You’ll want to brush their teeth twice a day: once in the morning and again before bedtime.
When to Call It Quits
As much as we’d like to keep an eye on our kids’ oral hygiene forever, it’s essential to teach them independence. Start encouraging your child to brush their own teeth around age three or four but keep supervising until they’ve got the hang of it—usually by age six or seven.
Early Infant Oral Care Tips and Tricks
Make it fun!
Sing a song, tell a story, or use a timer to keep your child engaged during toothbrushing time.
Be a role model!
Show your little one that you brush and floss regularly to emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene. Schedule regular dental checkups!
Plan your child’s first dental appointment around their first birthday and continue with regular visits every six months thereafter.
Healthy Habits for a Healthy Smile
Besides brushing and flossing, it’s important to establish healthy habits for your child’s overall oral health. Encourage a balanced diet, limiting sugary snacks and drinks. Provide water instead of juice and teach your child to use a straw to minimize contact with their teeth. These small steps can go a long way in maintaining a healthy smile.
Dealing with Teething
Teething can be a trying time for both baby and parents. To help soothe your little one’s sore gums, provide a chilled teething ring or gently massage their gums with a clean finger. Early infant oral care is crucial for setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. By starting early, making it fun, and teaching healthy habits, you can give your child the best chance at maintaining a radiant smile. Don’t forget to schedule regular dental checkups and be a role model for good oral hygiene. With a little effort and a lot of love, you’ll be well on your way to helping your child develop a healthy and beautiful smile for life. Contact our Where Smiles grow team today to learn more about early infant oral care.