Did you know that when babies are born they already have 20 teeth? These teeth are already formed and sitting just below the gumline. When your baby is around six months old, these teeth begin to emerge, starting with the lower front incisors.
You don’t need to wait until all 20 teeth have erupted before focusing on their oral health. At The Woodlands Dental Group in The Woodlands, Texas, David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, are proud to offer family dentistry for all your family members, including the littlest ones.
Start from the beginning
Oral hygiene refers to all parts of the oral cavity, not just the teeth. This means that you can improve your baby’s oral health even before their pearly whites pop up.
Clean your baby’s gums
Take a damp baby washcloth and wipe your baby’s gums after feeding. This will help remove some of the sugar from the milk or formula.
Avoid “bottle rot”
Avoid sending your baby to bed with a bottle. If your baby falls asleep drinking milk, the milk can pool. This can allow sugar to sit on your baby’s teeth.
Offer comfort during teething
Offer teething rings or chilled teethers when your baby is showing signs of teething. Signs can include drooling, fussiness, and excessive chewing.
These forms of dental care may seem simple, but they are some of the best ways to promote oral health from an early age.
Use the right tools
Part of good dental care means using the right tools.
Choose the right toothbrush size. Sizes come in infant, toddler, and child.
Before 2014, most parents were advised to use fluoride-free toothpaste until age 2. Now the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using a smear of fluoride toothpaste when teeth emerge. A “smear” is the size of a grain of rice.
As soon as two teeth touch, you can floss your child’s teeth. Preflossed flossers might make the job easier.
You should be in charge of brushing and flossing until your child can take over the job responsibly. Depending on the child, you might need to supervise until they’re age 8 or so.
Model good oral hygiene
In addition to providing the right tools and encouraging good habits, you can improve your child's oral health by modeling good habits yourself. When children see that oral care is a part of the everyday routine, they’ll be more likely to keep up with their own oral care habits.
You can model good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, using mouthwash, avoiding bad oral habits ― such as chewing on pens ― and staying consistent with your regular dental checkups.
It’s never too early for dental exams
The American Dental Association recommends routine dental exams twice yearly for adults and children. The earlier you start dental exams for your child, the more accepting they’ll be as time goes on. They’ll learn that dental exams are important, safe, and maybe even fun. Furthermore, early exams will help us spot any potential red flags before they snowball into a bigger issue.
If you want great dental care for you and your family, we’re a call or click away. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with The Woodlands Dental Group today.