Taking care of your baby’s mouth both before and after they get their teeth is so important. By the time your baby is a year old, he or she should have some teeth and will need to see the dentist for their first checkup!
Cleaning your baby’s mouth can help remove bacteria and keep their oral cavity clean. Through proper care, your child’s teeth will be healthy when they arrive and your baby will be used to regular cleanings. This is an important part of ensuring he or she will better adjust to tooth brushing when they are a bit older. Here’s how you can effectively and safely care for your infant’s mouth.
Before Tooth Eruption
You can easily clean your child’s mouth before they have any teeth. This is usually before the age of six months, but it could be until 9 months or more until your child has his or her first tooth. To clean your infant’s mouth, take a clean piece of gauze or a clean washcloth and get it damp with clean water. Run this along both rows of gums in your baby’s mouth. It’s important that your hands are clean in addition to the cloth or gauze you’re using. The best position to do this is with your baby in your lap with their mouth below you so you can see properly into their mouth. This task is best done after each feeding!
After Tooth Eruption
When your child first starts to develop teeth, forgo the cloth or gauze and get a toothbrush. It’s important that the toothbrush is the appropriate size for your infant—many stores sell these small toothbrushes that help you easily clean inside your baby’s mouth.
It’s also crucial that the toothbrush be soft-bristled. Hard bristles are more damaging to teeth, and your baby’s new teeth should be protected. You can help by choosing a brush with very soft bristles to gently brush your child’s teeth. You can also begin using a very small amount of toothpaste, just a light smear on the brush is more than enough. When you begin using a toothbrush for your child’s mouth, you can switch to brushing teeth twice a day rather than after each feeding.
Continuing Care and Flossing
It’s important to remember that as soon as your child has teeth, they are susceptible to tooth decay. This is why taking care of their teeth is so important, especially since they’re unable to do it themselves. Once your child has two teeth that touch, you can begin flossing.
Using the proper amount of toothpaste—about the size of a grain of rice for infants—in addition to daily brushing and flossing will help them to develop healthy teeth. Once your child reaches the age of three, you can begin using more toothpaste and teaching them how to brush on their own. During this time, regular dental visits are also imperative to ensuring your child has healthy teeth for life!
You can take care of your infant’s mouth daily no matter what age they are. Begin with a clean cloth or gauze shortly after birth. Continue care by brushing and flossing once teeth come in—and as always, visit your dentist to ensure decay isn’t present in your child’s mouth!