Just as it is for adults, good oral hygiene and a well-balanced diet are good for children. It’s good for their teeth and it’s good for their overall well being. And good habits start young. So gently clean your baby’s gums after every feeding and give your baby healthy foods.
Even though it may be tempting to let your child fall asleep with a baby bottle in their mouth, don’t. You may not be able to see any baby teeth in your child’s mouth, but they’re there. And they’re just as susceptible to tooth decay. So letting a baby fall asleep with a bottle full of breast milk, formula, juice or any sweet drink is like soaking those developing teeth in sugar. That wouldn’t be good for anyone’s teeth, especially your baby’s, and it can result in baby bottle tooth decay. Good oral health and diet is pivotal to establishing a lifetime full of happy, healthy smiles. All it takes is brushing, flossing, and eating right. The key is to start those positive habits at an early age.
Did You Know...
The AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) recommends that you schedule your child’s first oral hygiene appointment when they reach their 1st birthday.
When baby teeth emerge through the gum, it’s called teething. It can be a bit painful, and it can make your child cranky. But, it’s a very natural process that every developing child goes through. Your baby’s gums may be sore and tender, and they may drool a bit. But there are ways to alleviate some of that pain and make your baby, and you, feel a whole lot better.
To alleviate teething pain:
- Gently rub your child’s gums with a clean finger, a wet gauze pad, or a small, cool spoon.
- Give your child something to chew on, like a cool washcloth or a rubber teething ring.
- Offer your child cold foods, such as applesauce or yogurt, if he or she is old enough to eat solid foods.
If these methods don’t work, you might want to give your teething baby a small dose of children’s pain reliever, but check with your doctor before giving your baby any medication. If nothing seems to be working and your teething baby continues to be cranky and demonstrates signs of pain, call your pediatric dentist or pediatrician.
How to Clean Baby Teeth
Good oral hygiene begins at birth. So it’s wise to get in the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums even before any primary teeth come in. Gently clean your baby’s gums after every feeding using a clean, damp washcloth or a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head made just for babies.
As soon as the first baby tooth arrives, you can start brushing it with a toothbrush and toothpaste. To brush baby teeth, use a small amount of non-fluoride toothpaste (sometimes called training toothpaste). Brush the front and back of your baby’s teeth, and lift your baby’s lips to make sure you get the gum line. You should brush your baby’s teeth twice a day.
Try to have your baby realize that you brush your teeth, too. It can greatly influence their desire to brush like you do.
When should a baby first see a Dentist?
At Chester County Dentistry for Children, we want you to have a lifetime of smiles.
And we want to be with you throughout that lifetime.
That’s why we would like you to make Chester County Dentistry for Children your dental home.
By definition, a dental home is the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient; a relationship that begins with the child’s very first visit around the age of one and includes all aspects of oral healthcare delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way. It also means you’ll be referred to a dental specialist if need be. You get that with Chester County Dentistry for Children, and more.
Our general and specialty dentists all work in the same building, so you not only get referred, but also have extremely easy access, most of the time just down the hall!
Good habits start early. So, establish your dental home with Chester County Dentistry for Children and schedule your child’s first dental visit shortly after the first tooth appears, and no later than your child’s first birthday. Learn more about your child’s first dental visit.
Thumb Sucking and Baby Teeth
Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for children. Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or anything they can get their mouths on can help babies learn to feel safe and secure. Thumb sucking is a soothing action for babies, and can even help them lull themselves to sleep.
Thumb sucking is all well and good until your child’s permanent teeth come in. Then it can cause problems. Crooked teeth and bite problems can result from thumb sucking. Also, the roof of the mouth can become unnaturally constricted or elevated and the jaws may not develop properly. The intensity of sucking matters, too. Aggressive suckers may even develop problems with their baby teeth.
Children usually stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four years old, or by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Which is good news for those emerging adult teeth! But if you have trouble getting your child to stop thumb sucking, try the following tips.
How to stop thumb sucking:
- Limit the time your child sucks their thumb to when they are in their bedroom or only during naptime.
- Praise your child for not sucking.
- If your child sucks their thumb for comfort, try to correct the cause of an anxiety.
- Recruit your dentist in encouraging your child to stop thumb sucking.
- Remind your child of their thumb sucking habit by putting a sock over their hand when they nap or sleep.
Tips for Good Oral Hygiene in Your Infant
- Even before teeth begin to erupt, thoroughly clean your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant washcloth or gauze pad to stimulate the gum tissue and remove food.
- When the baby’s teeth begin to erupt, brush them gently with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. A small amount of fluoridated toothpaste will help to inhibit decay.
- Discourage thumb and pacifier sucking as soon as possible. Most children stop by age two but prolonged sucking can create bite problems, crooked teeth, or even constriction of the maxilla, the upper jaw.
- At age two or three, you can begin to teach your child proper brushing techniques. But remember, you will need to follow up with brushing and gentle flossing until age seven or eight, when the child has the dexterity to do it alone.
- Schedule your child’s first oral hygiene appointment, when they reach their 1st birthday. We’re sure that your child’s first experience will be a very positive experience!