A Parent’s Guide to Infant Oral Care
We receive a lot of questions from new parents about when is the right time to start bringing your children to the dentist and what should be known about preparing infants for a long life of healthy teeth.
Most children develop their first tooth around the age of six months; however, oral care should start shortly after birth. Here’s what you should know!
Start cleaning your baby’s mouth around three months of age to prevent gum infections and to help them get used to the process. Use your finger wrapped in a clean, damp washcloth to wipe down their gums and teeth. Alternatively, you can use a silicone finger toothbrush.
Wait to use toothpaste until your child has teeth. Choose a product with fluoride, use a small amount and make sure they spit it out. Additionally, you should start flossing you child’s teeth once they have teeth that touch each other.
Remember to always clean your child’s mouth before bed. This will prevent bacteria and food particles from lingering on their teeth all night.
Schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist before their first birthday or within six months of getting their first tooth. When you arrive, the staff will introduce your child to the sights and sounds of the clinic. The dentist will also check your child’s mouth to make sure their development is on track.
Afterward, you should return every six months so your child can benefit from regular cleanings and fluoride treatments. This will also ensure the early detection of any problems and help limit your child’s apprehension about dentist appointments.
While most children develop their first tooth around the age of six months, your infant could start teething as early as three months. Here are a few signs that your child has started teething:
- Increased irritability and crying
- Excessive drooling
- A tendency to bite hard objects
- Trouble sleeping
- Gum swelling
Your child’s last tooth should come in by the age of three. Until then, you can ease teething discomfort by massaging their gums with a clean finger or damp cloth. Alternatively, let your child chew on a clean, cold washcloth or hold a cold spoon against their gums.
In addition to establishing a proper oral care routine, here are a few things you should be aware of when it comes to your infant’s oral health.
- Early childhood tooth decay
Frequent exposure to sugary liquids such as breast milk, formula, cow’s milk and fruit juices can weaken your baby’s teeth. In particular, you should never put your baby to bed with a bottle. Contact your dentist if you notice dull, white spots or lines on your child’s teeth.
- Pacifier use
Prolonged or excessive use of a pacifier can alter the shape of your infant’s mouth and lead to problems with tooth alignment. To prevent this, only give your child a pacifier at bedtime and stop using it by the age of two.
- Thumb sucking
It’s normal for your infant to suck their thumb, and most children will ease up after their first few years. However, vigorous thumb sucking can hinder oral development, particularly if it persists once your child’s permanent teeth start growing in.
Visit Your Family Dentist in SE Calgary
The friendly staff at Forest Lawn Dental Centre is proud to offer dentistry services for the entire family. For more information about your child’s oral health, or to schedule their first dentist appointment at our SE Calgary clinic, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.