Good habits are best to start as early as possible. Which is why, when thinking about how to keep your baby’s teeth as healthy as possible you should start thinking about two things: food which helps protect the teeth of your child and a good oral health regiment.
As a board certified pediatric dentist and mother, I was lucky enough to come across Little Spoon when my son started solids at 6 months old. I loved how the meals were made out of organic fresh food choices and completely free of preservatives. It was like farm-to-table meals for my little one.
Believe it or not, almost all foods (from milk products to vegetables and fruits) have some naturally occurring sugar. Once the first tooth erupts, a combination of that sugar and poor oral hygiene routine can make your child’s mouth an ideal place for cavities to form.
I’ve been asked many times on when to start to address a baby’s oral hygiene. It’s never too late to establish oral hygiene habits, but you want to start as early as possible. Even before your child has teeth, there are a couple of things you can do.
To start, you can use a wet gauze, finger brush, or Banana Brush for no more than 10 seconds to massage and wipe the gums of your baby twice a day. This helps to remove any milk residue. Once your baby has teeth, I like to start using a child’s toothbrush with soft bristles to begin the brushing routine. Keep in mind your child’s first dental visit should be by 12 months old or within 6 months of tooth eruption.
It’s important to establish a dental home during that time because by 3 years old, your child will typically have twenty baby teeth. If a good oral hygiene routine is not established early on, cavities can result and usually persist into the future.
Here are some tips with brushing:
1. Start early and be consistent
2. Make it part of your child’s routine
3. Don’t be discouraged with crying
I always tell parents the first dental visit is like a visit with the pediatrician. The goal is to establish a comfortable setting with the dentist and receive lots of education about diet and good oral hygiene habits. During this first visit your dentist is essentially there to answer all of your questions and make you comfortable!
During this first appointment we’ll assess the overall health of the teeth (if they’re present) and discuss if fluoride is needed. Sometimes, if plaque is present a cleaning may be necessary, but mostly we’ll discuss topics that impact teeth development: bottle, pacifier and thumb habits, diet, teething, brushing, flossing and everything oral health related.
Instilling good dental hygiene and healthy eating at a young age can make all the difference in your child’s health. It’s never too early!