Good oral care for kids actually begins during pregnancy, as baby teeth begin to form before birth. A mom’s healthy pregnancy, including a well-balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals, can be the starting point for a child’s health, including healthy teeth.
After a baby is born, oral care should start before any teeth come in! Gently wiping the gums with a washcloth after a feeding is a good idea. This will protect the mouth from harmful bacteria, and can help protect the teeth when they begin breaking through (around 6 months old.)
Other tips for babies include:
- Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle filled with milk, formula, or juice – the sugars and acids are notorious for causing baby tooth decay
- Gently brush baby teeth as soon as they appear, and make tooth brushing a regular part of your morning and bedtime routines
- Keep your child away from secondhand smoke, as it can contribute to the development of tooth decay, gum disease, and other health problems
- If you (as a parent) have active tooth decay or gum disease, avoid sharing spoons, forks or other utensils with your child since harmful bacteria from a parent’s mouth is easily transferred this way
- Using toothpaste is not necessary until about age 2.
Your child should visit the dentist for the first time around 12 months of age. During a child’s first visit to our office, we’ll do a gentle evaluation of your baby’s dental development, existing baby teeth, and oral tissues. We’ll also sing songs, give plenty of praise and let them know from the very beginning that visiting the dentist can actually be fun!