When babies are born, new parents often realize that they don’t know the first thing about taking care of an infant’s teeth! When do you start brushing? Do you use toothpaste? When are they supposed to start going to the dentist?
Thankfully, new parents aren’t alone when it comes to caring for your infant’s teeth!
Warr Pediatric Dental Associates has a simple framework for parents who want to build healthy habits for their infant dentistry patients. Infant dental care is as easy as A – B – C!
AT BIRTH CONSISTENTLY. . .With all the newness of having a little one, infant dental care can fall by the wayside. Diapers, bottles and sleeping can crowd your mind but don’t put dental care on the back burner. It all begins at birth!!
As soon as you get your child home, you should begin wiping or massaging their gums. Before your child’s teeth start coming in this is an excellent way for you to get familiar with your child’s mouth and keep their gums clean. Wiping down their gums with a clean damp washcloth will help get them started on their journey to great infant dental care.
Using a clean damp washcloth is the best way to start but a finger brush is best for tiny mouths when the teeth begin to erupt. Most babies begin teething between the age of 6-8 months. However, all babies begin (and end) teething at their own pace.
AT BEDTIME CONSISTENTLY. . . Plan to brush your infant’s baby teeth twice each day. It’s especially important to establish a bedtime routine. Since many children like to nurse or have a bottle before bedtime, it’s always important to make sure that the teeth are clean before you lay your baby down.
After nursing or their bottle, you should wipe or use the finger brush to clean their teeth. There are also many different types of baby tooth wipes developed especially for a baby’s mouth that make this step easier.
AVOID BEDTIME CONSUMPTION . . . Another important part of a child’s bedtime routine is to make sure that they are NOT sleeping with a bottle or at-will nursing while sleeping. Nursing or bottle caries are very prevalent and one of the chief causes of Early Childhood Caries (ECC).
While nursing is strongly encouraged it is important to unlatch and wipe the teeth before allowing your little one to sleep through the night. Human milk and formula both contain sugars which can cause decay. Keeping your baby’s teeth free of those sugars will help keep ECC away.
At the age of 2, your child may begin to use fluoride-free, safe-to-swallow toothpaste. Use a child-sized toothbrush that will fit in your toddler’s mouth and a tiny amount of toddler toothpaste (a smear on the tip of the brush) to help with their brushing.
Adult toothpaste is too abrasive for infant teeth and is not safe to swallow. Even though toddler toothpaste is safe to swallow, you should still encourage your toddler to spit (or drool) when you are brushing their teeth.
Once your little one has two teeth next to each other you should begin flossing. Basic dental floss works just fine. You can also purchase the individual dental flossers, which can be a bit easier to manage.
As your child grows older they tend to want more independence but we recommend that you brush after them until the age of 6 and help them floss until they are about 8 years old.
ALWAYS BRING COMFORT . . . There are many different thoughts and opinions about teething. It can be daunting to find out what works best as you read online and get advice from family and friends. The key is to find what works for your baby.
Some toddlers enjoy warm things while others prefer cooled teething rings. Some children respond better to Tylenol or other over the counter pain relievers while others do better with homeopathic remedies.
It may be a bit of a guessing game but it’s important to find out what works best for your baby and your family. Always pick what makes you and your toddler comfortable. Teething is a season and not a disease to be cured.
When does an infant need to start going to the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend that your child should have a dental home by the age of one year of age. Studies show that children who go to the dentist early have fewer dental problems, which means more cash for you and your family.
The first infant dental visit is very important for you and for your baby. This is what we do at that first visit:
- Oral hygiene habits. We will show you how to brush your child’s teeth and some much needed tips on flossing, toothpaste and other hygiene habits. It is important to help your child start with good habits and we will show you how.
- Oral habits. Pacifiers, thumb sucking and other things that babies love to do may be keeping their jaws from developing correctly. Your pediatric dentist will decipher and decode the puzzle to make sure that you know which habits are detrimental to your child’s development and when to stop those habits.
- Dietary habits. We will give you advice on foods that are good for your baby and other nursing and feeding tips. With all the excitement of a growing baby we want you to be ahead of the game when it comes to knowing what is best.
- Family history. If you have had a hard time with your teeth it is important to start early with your child. We will explore any dental issues that you may have in your family and stop any weak areas that we see developing in your child. Studies show that early detection of cavities or areas that are more prone to cavities are easier and cheaper to treat.
Getting your infant accustomed to his or her dentist from a very early age will also help your little one feel less afraid of going to the dentist as they grow up. This will give them a positive view of dentists!
Infant Dental Emergencies
It is heartbreaking when a child comes to our office for the first time with a dental emergency! It is always harder for these children to adjust to coming to a dentist when their first visit is all about trauma. We encourage you to find a dental home for your child by age one. This relationship is especially important if your child has an injury or a fall. It will always be important to contact your pediatric dentist if your child experiences any type of trauma.
Here are some tips for you if your child should take a tumble:
- Call your pediatric dentist. It’s important for you to get the advice of a professional before you go to the emergency room or dismiss the accident because you think that only the adult teeth are affected. Your pediatric dentist will make sure that your child’s adult teeth are protected and that you are doing what will help your child’s mouth heal. Most of the time we may be able to help without coming to the office! The magic of technology has opened up a door for teledentistry. Call us to see if we can help you!
- Make sure that there is no trauma to the head, neck or other vital areas. If your child is bleeding uncontrollably, dazed, confused or not acting normally you should call your pediatrician to make sure that there are no other underlying issues that need to be treated first.
- Stay calm. Remember that if you are calm, your child will be calm. If we need pictures or feedback from your child we will be able to obtain it much easier if they are collected and calm. Take a deep breath and carefully assess the situation. When you call us there is a lot of information that we will need to help you.
For other tips please visit our emergency care page.
CLICK HERE for a coupon for a FREE first visit with us. All first visits for children 2 years and under is absolutely FREE!
- If your infant or toddler has a dental emergency, please call our office emergency line for immediate assistance.
- How about when your little one is no longer an infant? Check out this blog post for tips on getting children of all ages more excited about their dental hygiene.