The appearance of a baby's first tooth is a special moment for parents. We are typically very excited for those first pearly whites to appear, and we take great joy and pride in counting each one as they come in. Friends, neighbors and even strangers will comment on the new teeth. It may, however, also be a stressful time for parents as their baby deals with the pain associated with teething. It is hugely important to begin caring for and brushing baby's first teeth as soon as they come in to prevent tooth decay. Brushing your baby's first teeth is essential to establishing early oral health habits.
An Early Start
Even before a single tooth comes in, wiping the baby's gums with a soft cloth, wet gauze pad or infant toothbrush before bedtime is recommended. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, this helps ready the baby for future teeth cleaning.
Once a baby's first tooth comes in, be sure to clean it twice a day with an age-suitable toothbrush. Schedule your baby's first pediatric dental visit around that time to ensure that your baby is on the path to being cavity-free for years to come. It's a great way to establish a dental routine at home and ensure that you are caring for your baby's teeth properly early on. Brushing baby's first teeth will be a task for parents until the child has adequate dexterity to do it alone at around five years of age, as stated by the Academy of General Dentistry. Your baby's dentist can share tips on how to position your child properly in order to get the best angle for brushing while making it a fun and enjoyable time for you and the baby.
Bedtime Feedings and Oral Hygiene
Your baby's bottle of milk or formula may lull them to sleep, but getting your baby to bed with the help of a bottle can wreak havoc on young teeth. It may even cause cavities, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, according to WebMD. If your baby needs a bottle to fall asleep, substitute milk with water to ensure that the teeth remain clean and healthy.
Breastfeeding is wonderful for a baby's health and development. But if your baby is breastfeeding frequently or for long periods of time, it is still recommended to wipe the baby's mouth and teeth clean after feedings. Especially after nightly breast or bottle feedings, be sure to toothbrush or wipe the gums and new teeth prior to bedtime in order to prevent tooth decay.