Many parents are of the opinion that a baby does not need any teeth care or hygiene to be maintained as primary or ‘baby’ teeth are temporary and will fall off, being replaced by permanent teeth. But it is equally important to follow a care and hygiene routine for oral health for babies too as there is an equal chance of tooth decay and gum troubles. Besides starting an early oral care regimen will prepare your baby and make him used to brushing and flossing which is vital for oral health as your baby will grow. Ignoring oral hygiene can lead to cavities and plaque in the primary teeth which can not only cause pain which could have been avoided but also gum infections. Early extraction due to tooth decay of primary teeth can also affect normal growth and occurrence of permanent teeth. Caring for your baby’s oral health should start before the emergence of your baby’s first tooth.
- Your toothless baby’s gums can be kept clean by wiping them with a clean, wet washcloth with only water for rinsing, no toothpaste or another thing is required to do so. Wrap the damp washcloth around your index finger and gently rub the gums and teeth of your baby.
- You may use a brush meant for babies or for tender months. Brush softly with water. Your baby’s first tooth can be cleaned in the same manner.
- The use of toothpaste is only appropriate when your child is old enough to spit it out as swallowing it can be harmful. Children learn to spit out toothpaste around the age of three years. Use toothpaste which contains fluoride and use only a small amount to brush their teeth. Children either love to swallow toothpaste or cannot actually spit it out, any which way it can be harmful as excessive fluoride can lead to fluorosis. Use of toothpaste can be postponed till your child turns two years of age.
- Once all the primary teeth of your baby are out, you should start brushing them twice in a day after meals. Brush teeth both on the inside and outer surfaces. Regular brushing is a habit which needs to be inculcated early by the parents, once your child is big enough to brush on his own make it a practice to brush together. Children learn by imitation.
- Flossing is a good practice as brushing alone cannot extract all food stuffs in between the teeth. You can consult your doctor about how early should you be introducing your child to flossing and how to go about it.
Good oral care tips
- Limit your child’s exposure to sugary concoctions or foods.
- Wean your baby from extended use of bottle as it can affect growth of teeth and shape of mouth. Stop night time bottle feeding once quite a few primary teeth appear.
- Never let your baby go off to sleep with a bottle as any sugary liquids or milk can remain pooled in the mouth which is not only dangerous but also affects oral hygiene.
- Always make your baby’s mouth rinsed with water before going to sleep, especially after a feeding.