Oral Care Tips for Babies – Cleveland Clinic

If your baby’s chin is constantly drooling and she suddenly wants to put everything in her mouth, her first tooth is probably on its way.

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While you may be focused on relieving her gum pain and keeping her as comfortable as possible while she’s teething, it’s also important to think about taking care of those little pearls.

Here’s why: If a baby has teeth, those teeth can get decay and cavities. And children with cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to get cavities in their permanent teeth. So it’s important to start a dental care routine early, says pediatric dentist Trista Onesti, DDS.

How do you do that? Dr. Onesti has some tips.

Oral care for infants

It is important to know that one of the reasons some children are more prone to developing cavities is due to a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. It is the main culprit behind tooth decay, as it feeds on sugar and produces acid that dissolves the protective enamel on the teeth.

Babies are not born with this bacteria, but studies have shown that they can get it early on through the saliva of a parent or caregiver.

“Kissing a baby on the lips, or sharing a spoon, or using your mouth to clean her pacifier can cause a child to Streptococcus mutans,” Dr. Onesie explains.

And the more cavities-causing bacteria in the adult’s mouth, the more cavities-causing bacteria the baby will have.

“We encourage parents or other adults not to use their mouths to clean a pacifier or share eating utensils or a toothbrush,” says Dr. Onesti.

Feeding habits can also contribute to the health of a baby’s teeth. Babies who fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice in their mouth, or with a pacifier dipped in honey or sugar, may be at risk for tooth decay in the baby’s bottle. This happens when sugar collects around their teeth as they sleep and eat Streptococcus mutans bacteria, causing spoilage.

Oral hygiene also plays a role at this age. Once a baby’s first tooth comes through, it’s time to start brushing. Use a small, soft toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste on it — the American Dental Association recommends a dollop the size of a grain of rice until age 3 — and gently brush around the teeth.

Use a small, soft toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste on it — the American Dental Association recommends a dollop the size of a grain of rice until age 3 — and gently brush around the teeth.

The fluoride in toothpaste helps strengthen the enamel on the teeth so they can resist tooth decay.

“When kids are young and can’t spit, if you’re using toothpaste with fluoride in it, you’ll want to wipe off the excess toothpaste with a piece of wet gauze,” says Dr. Onesti.

The fluoride is not harmful to their health, but when developing teeth get too much of it, they can develop a chalky white appearance known as dental fluorosis.

Children should also start visiting the dentist on their first birthday, or six months after their first tooth erupts.

Brushing teeth for toddlers

Until your little one develops the skills to brush their own teeth, you need to take the lead.

For young toddlers, Dr. Onesti recommends sitting cross-legged and having the child lie on your lap and look up at you. This will give you good access to the back of the teeth.

If your toddler is uncooperative, giving him something to play with or look at can be a good distraction.

At this point, you should brush twice a day and remove excess toothpaste with gauze until the child learns to spit.

Preschool and beyond

Once a child can spit, you can start applying a slightly larger, pea-sized dollop of toothpaste to the toothbrush. Children 3 years and older should brush for two minutes twice a day.

And don’t forget flossing.

“Once they have teeth that are in contact — they’re usually the molars in the back, and for most kids they come in around age 3 to 4 — the parent should actively floss a child’s teeth ,” says dr. says Onesti.

You should continue to supervise your child’s dental routine until age 8. Before that age, they may not have the manual dexterity necessary to reach all parts of the mouth.

If your child is still sucking their thumb after age 3, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends discussing it with your pediatric dentist, as it could lead to crooked teeth or teething problems.

The American Dental Association also recommends replacing a toothbrush every three to four months and visiting the dentist regularly.

Developing good oral care habits as soon as the first teeth sprout can help keep your child cavity-free and pave the way for a lifelong, healthy smile.

Oral Care Tips for Babies – Cleveland Clinic

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