One of the first major milestones for an infant is teething. As that first little tooth erupts from the gums, your child’s life is forever changed…and yours is too!
When parents think about baby teeth growing in, they often think of the momentous occasion of the first tooth poking through. However, did you know that good oral care starts far before the first tooth emerges? Watching your baby’s teeth coming in is certainly a milestone, but you should be laying the groundwork for this day far before it happens.
We love babies at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental! Although we enjoy treating all children, we have to admit that one of our favorite types of appointments is baby’s first visit to the dentist. But, before that momentous appointment, what kind of preparations can you make to help as baby teeth begin growing in?
Cleaning The Mouth Before Baby’s Teeth Are Coming In
When most people think about oral care, they obviously think about brushing teeth. So, if an infant doesn’t have teeth, there’s nothing you need to do for your child’s mouth, right? Not quite!
Although an infant doesn’t have teeth, their mouth still needs to be kept clean. Formula or breast milk that remains in the mouth after feeding can aid in the growth of bacteria. Over time, this buildup of bacteria could cause an infection. Additionally, if a mother is breastfeeding, this bacteria can be passed to her, causing issues such as mastitis.
How do you keep baby’s mouth clean before they have any teeth? Simply wet a soft, clean cloth with warm water. Then, gently wipe the baby’s mouth to remove any residue of formula or milk. Remember: they’re not ready for toothpaste yet, so just use water to cleanse their mouth. If you’d rather, you can also use a small rubber mouth cleaner that fits on your finger to clean your baby’s mouth. These devices can typically be found in the baby department of most big-box stores.
Soothing Sore Gums Before Baby’s Teeth Are Coming In
Has your typically happy child suddenly become irritable? If you’re desperately trying to figure out what caused your baby’s change of mood, take a look at their gums. Do you see any signs of redness or swelling? Is your baby drooling more than normal? Are they trying to chew on anything they can get their hands on? If you’re observing these symptoms, it’s likely your child is teething and their gums are preparing for baby teeth growing in.
If your baby is teething, don’t despair! There’s several things you can do to make them feel more comfortable:
- Give your baby a gum massage with a clean finger. You can even use rubber gloves if you wish. The slight pressure from the finger can give your child’s gums some relief.
- Allow your child to chew on something. Teething rings are a popular choice, and your baby can chomp on them to their heart’s content without any issues. Another popular option is to wet a clean washcloth, roll it up, and place it in the freezer from thirty minutes to an hour. Your child will enjoy chomping on this cool cloth— just make sure that the cloth doesn’t totally freeze, as that could actually cause them even more pain.
- If your child is drooling excessively, wipe their mouth as often as possible. This will help ensure that they don’t get a painful rash on their face.
- If your child has started eating solid foods, teething biscuits can be a good option for your baby as well.
Having a plan before baby teeth start growing in is important. Remember, they have 20 primary teeth under their gums that will eventually pop up, so you’ll go through this routine many times over!
Oral Care When Baby’s Teeth Are Coming In
Congratulations! Baby’s first tooth has finally emerged! You’ve well prepared for this moment by providing excellent infant oral care, as well as by soothing your child as they began teething. Now, however, you’re entering a new phase of oral care for your child. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Purchase your child’s first toothbrush. When choosing a brush, purchase one with a smaller head and soft bristles, made specifically for children.
- Choose a kid-friendly toothpaste. Make sure that it contains fluoride to aid in strengthening the teeth.
- Brush baby’s teeth twice a day. In the morning and evening after they have eaten, put a small amount of toothpaste (less than the size of a pea) on the brush and gently brush the tooth. Although baby may want to grab the brush, they are still too young to brush their own teeth at this point.
Some parents think that oral care while baby’s teeth are coming in is unimportant. After all, the baby teeth will be falling out eventually anyway, so why is cleaning them so vital? Although it’s certainly true that these 20 primary teeth will eventually be replaced by 32 permanent teeth, this type of thinking is short-sighted. A baby’s teeth can decay just as much as an adult tooth’s can. In fact, two out of five children develop cavities before kindergarten. This decay can lead to painful infections, which can be avoided by simply caring for the baby’s teeth as they emerge.
Visiting The Dentist When Baby’s Teeth Are Coming In
Once baby’s first tooth comes in (usually from six months to one year of age), you’ll need to call a pediatric dentist for an appointment within six months. At this first appointment, your dentist will not only clean and inspect your child’s mouth, but they’ll also give you valuable insight and guidance about how to care for your child’s developing smile.
If you live in the Reno area, schedule your baby’s first dental appointment at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental. With six convenient locations, we’ve got an office close by. Contact us today for more information. Don’t delay a visit when baby’s teeth are coming in, stop by and see the loving team at Toothfairy!