As you cradle your infant in your arms and gaze into his cherubic smile, you might naturally wonder when your little one will need to see a pediatric dentist. It is a common misconception that parents should wait for baby teeth to appear before learning about infant dental care.
Does My Child Need Infant Dental Care
All infants benefit from daily oral cleanings. Simply use a soft cloth moistened with warm water, and gently wipe your baby's gums. This removes any lingering formula or milk and prevents bacteria buildup.
From the age of 6 months to 3 years, baby teeth will begin erupting, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. This is when you should start using a soft-bristle baby toothbrush with a small smear of child-safe fluoridated toothpaste, such as My First Colgate® for children ages 0–2 to cleanse the teeth twice a day. Once the child reaches age 2, a larger, pea-sized dab of toothpaste is recommended.
Teeth ordinarily start to come through the gumline at 6 months of age. Most children will visit the dentist before they celebrate their first birthday. Baby teeth will gradually appear until the age of 3.
When you notice teeth buds protruding through the gums, call your pediatric dentist for an initial examination. Although your dentist cannot see many teeth, he will do a preventive checkup on everything that is visible. Even baby teeth are at risk for decay, especially since the teeth are regularly covered with milk or juice from routine feeding. The dentist will also look at tooth and bite alignment if the baby sucks his fingers.
As your little one develops teeth, infant dental care is imperative. Avoid giving a bottle filled with juice at nap time. This can promote tooth decay. If your baby won't fall asleep without a bottle, fill it with water to avoid any dental damage. Try to limit juice to mealtimes so that the sugary liquid gets naturally rinsed away by eating.
Your baby's mouth may become sore and uncomfortable during teething. Provide relief by using a chilled teething ring and by wiping the gums with a cold washcloth before and after meals.