It’s no secret that taking care of your teeth is essential for proper oral hygiene and health. It’s even more important to begin proper oral care as early as possible in young children. Setting the foundation of proper oral care will benefit them for the rest of their lives!
The general theory of when to start dental care in a child is as soon as possible! Even before your baby starts to grow his first tooth, would be a good time to create the habit of “brushing their teeth”. Of course, since the teeth don’t exist yet, it’s mostly brushing of the gums. This can be done with gauze or a very soft, wet washcloth. A few simple wipes of their gums during bath time can go a long way in removing bacteria. It should be noted that bacteria doesn’t normally harm the gums before the teeth arrive, but getting your child used to having their mouth cleaned will improve the transition of toothbrushing at a later age.
Usually around the six month mark, your baby will start to develop his first tooth. However, some child don’t receive their first chomper until 15 or 18 months after birth (every child is different!).
When that tooth does appear, you should begin brushing it immediately. Toothbrush selection is essential and you should purchase a brush that has a very small head, but a grip suitable for the size of your hand.
Using a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste, you should brush your child’s teeth (or tooth) twice a day and even brush their tongue to help remove additional bacteria. Most dentists believe that rinsing is not required since you should be using a small amount of toothpaste. Don’t forget to replace the toothbrush as soon as the bristles become worn.
The development of your baby’s teeth can benefit from a little fluoride. It is a mineral that can help strengthen tooth enamel while preventing dental decay. Your baby can receive fluoride from toothpaste or even your tap water.
Most towns have water supplies that include adequate fluoride but you should always call your local government to find out for sure. If your town does have fluoride in the water and you use that water in your baby’s formula, they will receive it from their bottle feedings. Some pediatric physicians recommend not giving a child water until they are over six month old. Prior to that ages, they get all the nutrients and hydration they need from breast milk or formula.
Be careful, however! Too much fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis which causes white spots to show on your child’s adult teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to the dentist within six months of their first tooth breaking the surface or by their first birthday, whichever comes first.
When you do take your baby to the dentist, make sure to relay how much fluoride your child receives and anything else you’ve seen with the development of your child’s teeth.
Get you child started with healthy teeth as early as possible!