Babies typically develop their first teeth between six months and one year of age, explains the American Dental Association (ADA), though a good oral care routine should start from birth. To set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health, carefully look after her gums and developing teeth.
How To Care For Baby Gums And Teeth
To keep your baby's gums healthy, wipe her upper and lower gums with a clean, wet washcloth after every feeding. Terry cloth finger cots, which fit over your fingers and are designed for cleaning your baby's gums, can also be used.
If your baby fusses, keep trying. She'll get used to the sensation of having the gums cleaned, and many babies may even learn to enjoy it.
Brushing is important because babies can develop cavities just like adults. In the early stages, cavities appear as white spots on the teeth. As the cavities get larger, you may see black or brown spots on your baby's teeth. Bad breath can also be a sign that your baby has a cavity.
Even though your baby's teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced with permanent teeth, it's still important to seek dental care for cavities. Baby teeth help your baby chew and speak, explains the ADA. They also save space in the mouth for permanent teeth, so if the baby teeth are lost too early due to decay, the permanent teeth may emerge crooked or crowded.
If plaque builds up inside your baby's mouth, she could develop gum disease. When you're cleaning your baby's mouth, check her gums for signs of this condition. Red, swollen gums are a sign of gum disease. Bleeding baby gums are another sign of gum disease; you may notice bleeding after brushing.
Gum disease can be treated with a good oral hygiene routine and professional dental cleanings. If it's not treated early, more invasive treatments, like deep cleaning or surgery, may be needed.
To keep your baby's gums and teeth healthy, start following an oral hygiene routine soon after birth, and make sure to take your baby to the dentist before her first birthday for a checkup.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.