A lifetime of good oral health begins during the first stages of life, even before the first teeth emerge. Parents who are well-educated in dental care for babies and toddlers can more adequately ensure that a child’s oral care needs are met.
The best way for parents to become knowledgeable about infant oral care is by taking them to an infant dentist. From an early age, pediatric dentists serve as partners in oral health and prevention, answering questions and providing helpful information about teething and at-home oral care.
Start Dentist Visits Early
Early visits to the dentist are highly informational and supportive. Children should visit the dentist for the first time within six months of getting their first tooth and no later than age one. This helps get your child comfortable with seeing the dentist and lets them perform an initial examination to establish a baseline of oral health for your little one.
Choose an infant dentist who specializes in dental care for babies and toddlers. Keep in mind that the initial dental visits for children and adolescents are primarily educational, but have a significant long-term impact on your child’s oral health.
At-Home Infant Oral Care
Infants do not have teeth to brush or floss. However, they do have gums that should be cleansed gently with a damp cloth each day. Once the first tooth emerges, an age-appropriate sized toothbrush can be used to carefully brush and prevent the buildup of plaque. Your infant dentist can help teach you the proper way to care for your baby’s teeth at home.
When should I start oral care with my child?
You can start your child on the path to a healthy mouth right away! You don’t have to wait for their first tooth; a baby’s gums need care, too. After feeding, gently wipe down their gums with a damp, soft cloth to remove any leftover food particles and keep their gums clean.
My child just got their first tooth! What should I do?
Congratulations, the teething process begins! Most importantly, schedule their first dental appointment. Your dentist can advise you on the proper way to care for your child’s new tooth and establish a baseline of oral health. It also helps get your child used to the dentist so they feel comfortable going.
Does my child need fluoride?
The short answer is yes, fluoride is an essential component of healthy tooth enamel. Depending on your child’s age, be sure they’re getting a source of fluoride, whether that’s from the local drinking water or in their toothpaste.
What are some safe remedies for teething pain?
Always consult with your pediatric dentist or doctor before giving any pain remedies to your child. That said, some common remedies include child-safe acetaminophen, gently massaging your child’s gums, frozen beaded necklaces, or frozen teething rings.
What about mouthwash?
Your child may benefit from mouthwash if they’re old enough. If they’re six years old or older, they can attempt to use mouthwash under your supervision. Have them practice swishing without swallowing with water first. Once they reliably understand they have to spit it out, you can try mouthwash.
Preventing Early Childhood Tooth Decay
Did you know that 2 in 5 children have at least one cavity by the time they go to kindergarten? In fact, early childhood caries can appear shortly after the first tooth appears. Once a baby has some level of tooth decay, he or she is more likely to develop additional cavities over time.
In addition to cleaning your infant’s teeth and gums, you can help prevent tooth decay by ensuring your child is getting a source of fluoride—whether in your local water source, via fluoridated toothpaste or by way of professional fluoride treatments from your infant’s dentist.
In addition, do not allow your child to go to bed with a bottle, as doing so can lead to a condition known as “baby bottle decay.” This occurs when children go to bed with a bottle. The formula or milk has sugars that stick to the teeth and, because they’re going to sleep, don’t get washed away by brushing, so it can lead to cavities.
To get your child started on the road to lifelong oral health, make an appointment at Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental. As an infant dentist, we specialize in dental care for babies and toddlers alike. Contact us at 775-909-4356 or send us a message and our staff will be happy to help set up your baby’s first appointment.
Call 775-800-4117 to Book Your Appointment