As first time parents, its such a joy to grow your family! We know giving the best care to your baby is the most priceless feeling in the world. That also includes their tiny pearly whites as these teeth erupt in the oral cavity. We have a few words of advice that could guide you to ensure your baby’s oral health is at its optimal and to prevent any infections (cavities) from developing.
Many parents ask us for advice on how to take care of their baby’s teeth as soon as they start teething. Many of us assume that whatever is good for adult’s dental health translates to baby teeth. Well, children experience completely different issues from birth until their get their adult teeth in. These issues can put their oral health at risk, and informing parents early on is important.
Make sure they snack on healthier food options
Food is such a big part of our lives, and what children eat can affect the health of their mouth and overall body. Most children are drawn towards foods with higher sugar content, such as gummies, cookies and chocolate. Although, we believe in moderation and picking foods that are less sticky and leaving less residue on the teeth, we ask parents to keep an eye out and be the detectives at home! Excessive consumption of processed foods, foods high in sugar content, frequent snacking, and forgetting to clean the food residues in the mouth can lead to microbial build up. This microbial (plaque) build up leads to cavities on the teeth and gingivitis on the gums.
For infants that are being breastfed, or bottle-fed, make sure to wipe the gum of the baby with a damp cloth after each feeding. This cleans the milk residue that sits on the teeth and reduces the chance of early childhood decay. We always recommend to have water or plain milk as the only choices of beverages for your child to sip on.
Make sure you brush and floss them regularly
Eating foods that are high in antioxidants such as “dark” chocolate isn’t the cause of cavities, leaving it around the teeth for a long time is. When food and plaque ( the bacterial biofilm) stay on the teeth for a long time, the bacteria find food and therefore increase the chance of getting decay. The best tool to use for your infants that are teething is a wet washcloth and then you can graduate them to a baby toothbrush (see our favorite on our amazon page). The next level up would be a soft bristle toothbrush with a rice grain amount of ADA approved toothpaste twice a day. You have to be the detectives at home, and whenever you see the teeth touching snug against each other, we recommend flossing to remove the food particles that are stuck between the teeth.
What about a pacifier?
Interesting fact, the intensity, duration of non-nutritive sucking can affect dental occlusion. As pediatric dentists, we always check for growth and development of each patients jaws and teeth. Pacifier use and thumb/finger sucking can cause malocclusion. If you need recommendations for a pacifier that is designed perfectly to reduce any type of dental malocclusion, ask us!
In addition to the above topics, make sure your child has a Pediatric Dentist as their provider for regular cleanings and consultations. It is recommended to be seen at the pediatric dentist at least every six months. This way the dentist will catch oral conditions early and can monitor the growth and development of their teeth and facial bones.