The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that tooth decay is the single largest disease impacting children. In fact, tooth decay is more widespread than other common illnesses like asthma. As a parent, you can help establish habits that will lead to a lifetime of optimal oral health for your child. Essential oral health care practices start during infancy. Don’t wait for your child’s teeth to begin erupting before considering their oral health.
1. Clean Gums, Healthy Smile
Before your infant has teeth, it is important that you clean their gum tissue. This can be done by using a clean, damp cloth and gently wiping your child’s gum line. This cleans off any residue from food and drink. When left uncleaned, your child may be at risk for developing gum disease. Our team suggests cleaning your child’s gums at least twice a day.
2. Introduce Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
Many parents find it helpful to introduce the flavor of toothpaste to infants after establishing a routine of cleaning their gums. Consult our team before using any toothpaste on your child’s gums. A small amount of toothpaste may be rubbed onto your child’s gum tissue. The amount of toothpaste used should be significantly less than what you might put on your own toothbrush. This will get your child used to the flavor and texture of toothpaste in their mouth.
3. Use a Toothbrush Once Teeth Erupt
Once your child’s first tooth erupts, it is time to begin brushing. We recommend selecting a soft bristled toothbrush made for infants. A pea-sized amount of child-friendly toothpaste should be used. Gently brush your child’s tooth, and be sure not to neglect their gums.
4. Schedule Your Child’s First Visit
When your child’s first tooth erupts, it’s time to visit our team. Their first dental examination should be scheduled within six months of the eruption of their first tooth. Children should receive at least two regular dental examinations each year, or more if they are at a higher risk for oral health complications.
Proper oral health practices are vital for infants and children. Your role as a parent is to shape your child’s habits to set them on a path for a healthy smile that will last a lifetime. Don’t wait for your child’s first tooth to erupt before considering their oral health. If you have concerns about your infant’s oral health or need to set up their first dental visit, give our office a call.