Posts Tagged ‘hygiene’

Infant Gum Care

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

infant gum careOh sweet, toothless grins! The pearly whites may not yet show up in your baby’s smile, but that doesn’t mean they don’t yet need attention. Caring for teeth now means fewer cavities, infections, and pain down the road.  Taking care of the mouth may also prove helpful in your child’s speech development. Even though they fall out eventually, baby teeth are important for later development and placement of permanent teeth that will later grow in.

Tooth care actually begins with gum care, so from birth babies have dental needs. Use gauze or a soft, moist wash cloth to gently swipe your baby’s gums two times per day, after a meal and before bed. If you’d like a more official toothbrush for your toothless infant, many stores sell a finger cover with soft short nubs to serve as gentle bristles specifically for this purpose. Especially after anything sweet (including milk), baby’s teeth may need attention. Pediatricians also warn against leaving a bottle in your baby’s crib at length as slow-drinking can create an environment where bacteria can thrive.

As soon as teeth appear, baby is ready for a soft toothbrush and continued brushings two times per day. Updated recommendations by the Academy of Pediatrics suggest using a “smear” (rice-sized) of fluoride toothpaste after the first tooth erupts through the gums and a “pea-sized” amount after age three. Your child has no need for rinse or floss until around age six when they are more able to swoosh and begin to have permanent teeth.

Pediatricians vary on when they suggest a child first visit the dentist. Much of what happens in those very early visits (before age 3) mostly involve getting a child familiar with the dentist and establishing care. Waiting until all baby teeth are in around 30 months is appropriate, but most everyone agrees by age three your child should be seen by a dentist. Check with your dental insurance to find out when the first visit is covered.

A child who regularly engages in dental care by daily tooth brushing is much more likely to handle the dentist’s chair well. Consider learning specifically about going to the dentist through a focused book or special, age-appropriate television show on the topic to help prepare for the first trip. If ever you notice discoloration or pitting on baby’s teeth, make an appointment soon. These may be signs of cavities or other issues that need attention now to prevent deeper issues later.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.