How to care for your newborn’s mouth
Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! This is such an exciting time for new parents; there are so many firsts to experience.
With all of the things you need to know to care for your infants well being, their mouth is not something most parents even think of or talk much about.
It used to be we were told to bring your child to the dentist around age three. Times have changed, now we know there is more we can do to give our kids a good start to a healthy life beginning with how we take care of their mouth.
Start protecting your baby’s mouth a few days after birth even before any teeth appear, by wiping your baby’s gums to reduce bacteria growth.
Wipe your child’s gums with a soft wet washcloth or a clean gauze pad after each feeding and especially before bed.
You can help reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay. Cavities are preventable if you create good oral hygiene habits.
Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle; this can cause what is known as bottle mouth caries.
Never allow your infant or toddler to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices or sweetened liquid. If you need to put them to bed with a bottle, use water.
Don’t dip a pacifier in sugar or honey. If your infant or toddler needs comfort between regular feedings or at bedtime, give them a clean pacifier to bottle with plain water in it.
The bacteria from your mouth can pass to your baby’s mouth. So part of taking care of your newborn’s mouth is caring for your oral health too. You can find articles for or against cleaning the pacifier in your mouth before putting it back in your baby’s mouth. I do not recommend it. I have done it, desperate times and all; you need to do what is right for you…no judgment here.
Begin brushing your child’s teeth with a little water soon as the first to appears in your baby’s mouth. Using a smear of toothpaste is ok. My daughter did not like toothpaste, so I did not use any until she was three. It had to be watermelon, which was very hard to find. So we used very little or none at all. Whatever it takes to get the job done.
Parents and caregivers may not realize that (baby) primary teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth. Brushing twice a day to disrupt and remove the plaque and biofilm and balancing the pH of the mouth is what will prevent decay.
The four front teeth—two lower and two upper usually erupt first, beginning as early as four months after birth. Most children have a full set of primary teeth by the time they are three years old.
Tooth decay in infants and toddlers sometimes is called early childhood caries, baby bottle tooth decay or nursing mouth decay this happens when a child’s teeth are exposed frequently to sugary liquids for long periods without being brushed.
Instead of treating the disease, we should be focusing on prevention! Cavities are 100% preventable.
Consider and understand the variables that cause the disease in the first place. This is what will prevent the disease from occurring.
So what causes cavities?
- Lack of education
- Poor oral hygiene
- Poor diet
- High sugar intake
- Acids on your teeth
Get as much information as you can to help you on your journey of preventing cavities for life.
A healthy mouth not only prevents cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. A healthy mouth can keep your body healthy as well and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, low birth weight, and much more.
It is not easy to establish and maintain a routine. You will need to make a conscious decision to eat healthily and brush in the morning and before bed.
It will be worth it to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. A few minutes a day can keep your child healthy and save time and money in the future.