Baby Dental Care

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A Parent’s Guide to Teething Woes

Did you know that babies are born with a full set of 20 baby teeth already hidden in their gums? Even before baby teeth start to appear, it’s important to start a regime of dental hygiene. Begin by carefully wiping your baby’s gums with a clean gauze or face flannel a couple of times each day.

Baby teeth usually appear between the age of three months and one year. Normally, the first teeth to appear are those in the middle of the lower jaw, although there is no specific rule for this. Once the first teeth appear, continue your daily routine of cleaning your baby’s gums twice a day, still using that gauze or face flannel wrapped around your finger. Pay attention to the front and back of each new tooth, but remember to be gentle, as the area around the newly emerged teeth will be particularly sensitive.

If your baby seems to accept this cleaning without fuss, you can move on to a tooth brush designed for children under two years. Go for a tooth brush with bristles that have soft and rounded tips.

Most dentists recommend that you don’t use toothpaste to clean your baby’s teeth until the age of eighteen months. When you are ready to start using toothpaste, go for a low fluoride brand and don’t use too much; a pea sized amount on the tooth brush is ideal. Brush the baby’s teeth with a gentle motion, moving in circles around each tooth.

Dental hygiene should extend to your baby’s tooth brush. Rinse the tooth brush in tap water, and store it in an upright position in an open container to allow it to dry. Be careful that the bristles of other tooth brushes stored in the same container don’t touch each other to avoid the possibility of cross infection.

It’s a good idea to begin taking your baby to the dentist before the age of two. That way, it will be possible to make a good assessment and to catch any developing problems early on. Also, this will get your baby accustomed to the idea of a dental examination.

The use of fluoride supplements has been the subject of much debate, but the common consensus appears to be that fluoride supplements are not recommended before six months, while the use of supplements between six months and three years depends on the level of fluoride present in your drinking water. Your dentist will be able to offer more advice.

One final point. Prevention is better than cure, so try to avoid cavity causing foods, such as sugary drinks as well as dried fruits and other titbits that can stick to teeth. Furthermore, do not kiss your baby on the mouth and never share spoons, forks, and other utensils with babies, as this can transfer tooth decay bacteria. (This is also a reminder to keep your own teeth and gums healthy.)

Follow these tips and your baby will have an excellent dental start to life!

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