When should parents start worrying about oral hygiene for their child? Right away! The truth is, your oral health includes more than just teeth. Even if you are a parent of a newborn, there are steps you should be taking to ensure your little one’s mouth is clean and healthy.
Many new mothers do not realize the importance of brushing their baby’s gums after each feeding. Whether your baby is breastfed or bottle fed, you should take a clean, soft washcloth (or dental wipes) and gently wipe your baby’s gums. Not only is this needed to remove harmful bacteria, but it is also teaching your child at the earliest age to be comfortable with tooth brushing habits and an oral hygiene routine.
It is now suggested that parents start using fluoride toothpaste as soon as you see your child’s first tooth erupt. This is typically around 6 months of age. Remember that only a tiny amount, the size of a grain of rice, is needed. Make a point to brush both day and night.
First Dental Visit
The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend taking your baby to the dentist by the age of 1 or within six months of the first tooth that emerges. Dental visits at such a young age are primarily designed to help the child develop good oral habits (brushing and flossing) as well as evaluate and treat any decay. The benefits of early cavity detection and prevention are profound considering that about 40% of children have tooth decay by the age 5!
It may seem insignificant to spend time tending to your baby’s oral health needs when they only have a few teeth or no teeth at all. However, establishing health habits as a baby can go a long way in making sure your child adopts diligent brushing habits as they grow. As much as your treasure your baby’s smile, why wouldn’t you do everything you can to protect that gummy grin?