5 Questions Every New Parent Has About Infant Dental Care
You have questions about caring for your baby.
Your little bundle of joy is growing rapidly. Developmental milestones are quickly followed by firsts and more milestones. You want to provide your child with mindful, intentional care. You want to be present and confident in the choices you’re making for their future every day. Taking care of your baby’s teeth is a part of that.
We’re honored to answer a few of your questions.
1. What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?
To help a baby’s teeth grow healthy and strong, you should begin cleaning them before they first appear. That’s right! Wiping down your baby’s gums twice a day, especially before bed, will keep bacteria at bay. It will also help both you and your little one begin to develop an oral health hygiene routine together.
Once your baby’s teeth first appear, start brushing. Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush made for little mouths, and brush in gentle circles.
2. When should I take my child to their first dental appointment?
Healthy habits are important to build from the beginning, not to mention seeing the dentist helps ensure that your child’s teeth grow strong and healthy.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to see a dentist within six months of the first tooth erupting or about age one. Despite this, most children don’t see a dentist for the first time until about two-and-a-half years of age.
Even if the first visit seems quick, remember you’re helping to build a positive relationship between your child and the dentist, which is important for when they get older.
3. Are baby’s teeth really that important?
Absolutely! Some people think that because baby’s teeth fall out within a few years, it isn’t necessary to take proper care of them. But baby’s teeth help your child in a number of important ways.
For example, they help a child learn to speak and eat correctly, avoiding bigger problems later on. With healthy teeth, they are also able to chew and eat the variety of foods they need to get proper nutrition.
Furthermore, baby teeth stand as a marker and space-saver for permanent teeth. When their permanent teeth start coming through, they will follow the path forged by your child’s baby teeth.
4. Is thumbsucking and/or pacifier use harmful to my baby’s teeth?
Excessive and prolonged thumbsucking or pacifier use can be detrimental to a child’s oral health by not allowing permanent teeth to grow in properly. Particularly aggressive thumbsucking can negatively affect the child’s baby teeth as well. However, this is generally only a problem when it goes on for too long.
Thumbsucking plays an important psychological role for children when they are seeking comfort. It’s a part of how many children learn to provide for their own comfort and fulfill their needs. It’s the first step in self-reliance. Most children will stop sucking their fingers on their own. If your child is still going strong after age three, talk with your dentist about mouth appliances and other options that can help them break the habit.
5. When should I begin using toothpaste for my baby’s teeth and how much?
You can use a tiny smear of toothpaste as soon as you begin cleaning your child’s teeth, i.e. once they appear. Begin using a bit more as they grow older, and once they are three to six years old, you can start using a pea-sized dollop. Work with them on spitting out the excess toothpaste as much as possible.
Remember, small children won’t do an adequate job of brushing their teeth and should always have help from an adult. Most kids can start brushing their teeth on their own around seven or eight years of age.
Finding a Pediatric Dentist
Brushing your child’s teeth daily is critical for the healthy development of their teeth and overall health. We hope that answering these common questions about infant dental care has taken some of the mystery out of this aspect of your child’s care.
As always, another vital aspect of proper oral care is to see a dentist regularly. In the case of children, you may wish to take them to a pediatric dentist who specializes in caring for children’s teeth.
Ready for your baby’s first dental appointment? Give us a call here at Must Love Kids. We love children and have a whole host of tricks up our sleeves to help them relax and not fear the dentist’s office.